Usability and desirability are closely linked in user experience, but each has a very specific focus. In 2008 at The Nielsen Norman Group Conference in Amsterdam, four levels of user experience (UX) were defined:

1. Utility
2. Usability
3. Desirability
4. Brand Experience

Usability is the basis of UX and the creation of memorable experiences. But it is desirability that makes a lasting impression on users. Being aware of each level is imperative when delivering quality UX, so let’s dig deeper.

1. Utility

Utility speaks to the use of a product or service. Is it useful to the user? Does it meet the needs of a user? Does it solve an existing problem? There is no point in going any further if a product or service doesn’t meet the utility requirement.

2. Usability

Usability speaks to the use of the product or service. Is it easy to use? Is it intuitive? Does it have an appealing look and feel? Usability is not to be mistaken for the full user experience. There is more to UX than a product or service that has utility and usability under its belt.

3. Desirability

Desirability speaks to a level of prestige or premium. It clearly deals with the desire that a user has in relation to a product or service. Some products have higher levels of desirability simply because of what they are or what UX designers have portrayed them to be. In some cases, it is brands that command higher levels of desirability, such as the Jaguars of the world versus the VWs.

4. Brand Experience

The brand experience is the overarching feeling that is gained from interactions or presence with the brand. Is the user left with a positive feeling when dealing with the brand or buying one of its products?

All of these neatly packaged together speak to the user experience, and you can understand how each piece fits on top of the other. So, with that knowledge in mind, what is the difference between UX usability and desirability? Usability is the minimum requirement for delivering an experience, without it, there is no user experience. Desirability, however, is the level of need for the product or service that is delivered through the user experience. How badly does a user want it and how can it be defined as a better version than a similar product? How can that be influenced using user experience design?

User experience design is an art form that can take a product, service or application from being a two-dimensional interaction to a fully cosmic experience.

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