This is a comment I wrote to this blog post: The Difference (And Relationship) Between Usability And User Experience.
As a cognitive psychologist, I’m very biased in how I would describe usability and ux.
I would frame the description with the assumption that people would use a product, service, environment or facility because they are motivated in doing so. When I design something, I ask myself (and I try to understand it involving the potential users) what motivates them to use it.
From a sociocognitive point of view, a person can be intrinsecally or extrinsecally motivated. One is extrisecally motivated to engage an experience if it is instrumental for an external goal. In the metaphor, somebody drives the freeway to go somewhere. One is intrinsecally motivated if she likes to engage in the experience: I don’t like very much to drive, but somebody do: they are intrinsecally motivated to drive.
Tough the definition of usability explicitely cites the sactisfation (an intrinsic driver), usability experts, in the past, where much more focused on the ease of use, implicitely assuming that the motivation of the users where mainly extrinsic.
The UX shift
The merit of the ux shift has been to recognize that people can be intrinsecally motivated in using a product, service, environment or facility. The ux vulgata, however, often cites only aspects like excitement or happyness. Yes, sometimes your users can be excited to use what you designed, but usually they engage an experience because they have a reason. If the reason is instrumental, the motivation is extrinsic, and therefore utility and usability are the main factors. The experiential aspect becomes prominent when the reason is not instrumental, but drived by an interest. From a sociocognitive point of view, ux design is about motivating people, where the motivation can be extrinsic (instrumental), intrinsic, or both.