Who of us has seen and/or used an enterprise software which looks like it was done in the 90s? Chances are a lot of their features were built then, if we are being honest.
Why do you think we allow horrible user interfaces and user experiences in our enterprise software? Especially when we are extremely critical of software we use everyday? Like Netflix, Spotify, social media, etc.
We generally stop using software which has a horrible user experience because there is a better option on the market. Those companies tend to go bankrupt due to no customers/users.
Shouldn’t we have good UI and UX as a focus point in product development for internal software as well? Wouldn’t you like to work with a software that is robust with good user experience?
I think the answer is a clear yes. Yet why does internal custom built software have bad UI so often?
Employees using the software with bad user experience don’t often even realize how much weight it puts on our shoulders.
Imagine going through a long process of writing a blog post or editing on a page for it to just disappear due to some sort of bug? It is a waste of resources from an employee and from an employer perspective. It's demoralizing and frustrating to the employee as they have to do it again and the employer will pay double for the same work.
Requirements and budgeting // RFP
Let's have a look from the angle of budgeting and gathering requirements for the RFP (request for proposal) that you will send out. You have gathered requirements that are crucial for your business with the UI on the backburner - so to speak.
Because the software just needs to get the stuff done and UI & UX is not necessary for this, right?
You might need to pay more for a good design for a software and it will be harder to justify the budget? Question I would ask here is that have you looked at it from the user perspective?
You go ahead regardless and browse through the answers to the RFP. There are many of which you pass along just plainly due to the price tag. Until you come across one that hasn’t mentioned user experience. Also the price tag is less. (Just how things work sometimes)
You choose this company and after a few months the training of the first version of software comes to the end users. The company developing goes through the feedback and goes over the software. There are 60 items in the navigation pane…..
After the implementation of small changes and rolling out the software. For a few days everything is quiet. Productivity is down. It’s a new system after all so it takes a couple of days to get up to speed.
However….that’s when the questions really start rolling in.
“How can I do…”
“Where is the overview….”
“I could do this in the old system easily…”
You send all this back to the company. They fix this and introduce updated documentation on how to use the software. Manual of tens of pages on how to do things.
For sure some will learn it faster than others who will then try to help others. Those who learned it fastest will teach it to new employees down the line.
Think how much resources are going to be needed to get everyone on board, be productive, handle the frustration, demotivation, etc. Are these the costs you want to go pay for in future due to saving minimally on the design?
Cognitive ergonomy for employees (Solution)
Companies pay good money to have your work stations be as ergonomic as possible. To increase productivity. How or why isn't this also the practice for software they will be using? That is where the money is made.
Paying attention to offices, work stations and so on results in much happier employees which in turn increases productivity. Makes sense doesn’t it?
How to go about this? Let us take a look at it from the perspective of UX hierarchy of needs
The UX Hierarchy of Needs
How long is the screen time due to using the software? Is information easy to read for everyone regardless of different eye sights to reduce strain on the user's eyes? How many clicks do you need to find something and is the navigation intuitive? How much does the user need to remember instead of the software guiding them?
Sense of psychological security - do they feel monitored or under scrutiny? Is it online reliably with automated saving so work isn’t lost if something goes wrong? Access to personal information? Can somebody hack it from outside?
Does the software free time from their work and allow them to connect with coworkers? Are people using shared vocabulary? Are they working towards the same goal?
Does the software tell if they have done a good job? These can confirm a sense of satisfaction for the employee to help with motivation. Also seeing if they have overdone themselves or the estimated workload in a day.
Is the software contributing to the organization's mission or detracting from it? Can you measure the impact on the mission? Are there new opportunities for solving problems, giving feedback, and meaning of work?
When gathering requirements to the RFP we often skip the phase where we go to the users and ask what could be better, what is good and what doesn’t work. This is a step that I cannot emphasize enough.
You aren’t the expert in their work so please don’t pretend to know how they work. Go and ask. Doing this makes them also more engaged in the project and to the end result. Making it all in all a better project from start to finish.
When you are planning on building a new software remember to constantly think about design and the end user. End users are the most important people regardless of what the project is.
Think of the whole software’s lifecycle not just until launch/implementation.