Why Business Software Should Mirror User Behaviors …and Not the Other Way Around

Posted by Christine Ziebell on 7/5/2017 4:50:02 PM

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Why Business Software Should Mirror User Behaviors …and Not the Other Way Around

Businesses today have to provide fast, flexible solutions to their employees while being mindful of their return on investment and total cost of ownership. However, despite investing significant sums of money on developing feature-rich, powerful software, businesses often remain unable to extract their desired value from their investment because of poor user acceptance.

Prioritizing User Experience 

Too often, business software solutions are designed and developed with a focus on technical specifications and capabilities. As a result, developers tend to overlook the most important aspect of a good software solution — its usability. Creating intuitive, highly functional software is as much about presenting the end-user with an attractive, easy-to-use interface as it is about fancy features and functions.

An effective software solution is one that doesn’t require users to adapt their behaviors and attitude in order to understand and use the software. Instead, it has been designed using a user-centered approach in order to support the user’s existing behaviors and offer them a seamless, intuitive, and efficient experience.

The Benefits of Adopting a User-Centered Approach

Natural selection is ingrained in human nature. This means that users will naturally select the easiest, least complex solution available to them. If they find a particular mobile application or desktop software too confusing, they will lose interest in it quickly, despite the potential benefits it could bring if they invested time and effort into learning how to use it. Therefore, for businesses that want to improve the efficiency of their day-to-day processes by investing in technology, they must focus on developing software that’s not only highly functional, but above all, user-friendly.

It’s also important to understand that the benefits of a user-centered software solution are not just limited to its quick and easy adoption by the end-users. There are a number of case studies that highlight the multi-dimensional benefits of adopting a user-centered approach to the design and development of business software. Some of these include:

  • - Lower Redevelopment CostsAccording to Roger Pressman, a member of the IEEE, every $1 invested in user-centered design offered a return of $2 to $100 by reducing the revisions required during the development process.   

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  • - Increased Productivity — Software with a user-centered design allows users to find their required information or features readily. This, in turn, increases productivity and reduces training costs. Consider the example of StubHub, a company that increased its revenue by 2.6 percent by testing their website with real users and acting on their feedback.

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  • - Increased Customer Satisfaction and Sales — According to the User Experience Survey Report published by Econsultancy, more than 70 percent of businesses believe that user-centered design is the primary driver of sales and conversions.

Just because some of this information relates to consumer software products does not mean it’s not applicable to business software, too. People are people, and they are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to the tools they use at work. It’s fair to say that the requirements for successful consumer software products are becoming increasingly applicable to business software as well.

Should Business Software Mirror User Behaviors?

There’s a maxim in the field of software design: “Know thy users, for they are not you!”

In order to leverage all the benefits offered by software with user-centered design, businesses need to understand that a good interface design doesn’t start with pictures. It starts with an understanding of users’ behaviors. For example, designers need to know why people use or abandon a given app or software, how they interact with software, and what makes them look for alternatives.

Business applications, often with cluttered interfaces, a plethora of fancy features, and clunky, illogical layouts, lack the intuitiveness and ease of use that end-users seek in software. As a result, they not only remain unsuccessful at achieving the desired return on their investment, but also face the risk of creating obstacles for achieving efficiency and productivity.

The downfall of the beleaguered gadgetmaker, BlackBerry, is a great example of why businesses should give up the traditional user-led approach and focus on developing a solution that’s user-centered. Once named as the fastest growing company in the world by Fortune, BlackBerry lost its dominant position in the market because of its inability to anticipate that consumers, not business customers, will lead the smartphone revolution. The company failed to introduce the user-friendly features offered by Android and iOS devices, and therefore, even the most loyal customers of BlackBerry were compelled to look for alternatives.

Conclusion

The primary reason business applications remain unable to fulfill the expectations of end-users is that they haven’t been built using a user-centered approach. Too many business applications have a complex interface that requires extensive training which adds to the total cost of ownership. A razor sharp focus on what the end-user wants can help businesses overcome this challenge and develop a solution that not only fulfills their strategic objectives, but also satisfies users with a smooth, enjoyable experience.

 

Category: Productivity, Tips & Tricks


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