It’s now a prerequisite to have a beautiful UI, gone are the days where you could get by with a clunky ugly interface.
A sleek sexy futuristic format isn’t necessary to please users, most end users just want the experience to be smooth and intuitive. The hassles of feeling lost within an interface can be quite frustrating and the solutions to fix these issues are incredibly simple. Yet, most companies tend to inherit legacy software and are hesitant to step away from what is currently “working” or take a chance on something new. While this line of thinking might have not been an issue in days past, as technology becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives it is absolutely unforgivable for your dishwasher to have a better, less intrusive interface than the accounting software you are forced to interact with 8 hours a day, all day, every day… until the end of days.
These issues might not even be addressed due to some sort of learned helplessness that has been forced onto its users, “Well, what can you do, it is what it is.” or the people/entities/wandering office spirits who make these decisions are too busy or faceless to be concerned with making 6-year-old black box software “look pretty” so millennial Kevin in legal doesn’t get mildly frustrated 4-18 times a day. Sadly, this is an all too common practice within corporations.
However, the patience we have for the digital punch-clock we must use or the Indiana State DMV website’s interfaces completely vanishes when it comes to consumer goods. The pickiness and spectrum of technological competence means that a well-crafted, group tested, artisanal UX/UI for any consumer based product is vital, and failing to address this is a death sentence for any product line. So if design is such an important aspect of development, what can be done to assure steps are being made to appease the end user?
Speak to employees/bosses
By encouraging a free flow of feedback and constructive criticism you will have a greater understanding of potential issues within your company structure. So, open lines of communication and see if there are any applications that are causing loss of productivity or frustration.
Standardize applications company wide
Having SSO access to your systems tools is vital, but so is having a unified look and feel to your applications. Having to remember 3 different passwords and navigating applications that are wildly different can be jarring and lead to disrupting employee workflow. A centralized and elegantly constructed interface allow for much greater ease of use.
Evaluate software annually
All applications, be they internal enterprise level software or a simple digital interface for consumer goods, need constant updates and evaluation. What was good last year, might be obsolete today.
Have it tested by outsiders. If you are intimately knowledgeable about how a certain UI operates its much more difficult to imagine how someone who had never seen the interface would navigate. This type of mindblindness makes it hard to understand how people new to the application will interact with it. This will also give you a broader swath of the public to gather data from, a senior citizen from Duluth won’t have the same tech know-how has a 26 year old from Silicon Valley.
In the pre-development phase you need to hear what is needed from your intended end-user. What needs should be met? What are current concerns or issues with existing software? When you hear directly from the people you are designing for, it’s much easier to anticipate their needs.
Request earnest feedback
Noninvasive and earnest feedback from end users can help give you a better glimpse of how your interfaces are being used and potential blocking factors for users.
Test, test, and test. This is a painfully obvious yet frequently overlooked prerequisite for design. User consternation can be easily mitigated just by putting your design to the test.
Ask your in-house dev team
Don’t forget your own group of in-house nerds, they have a lot of real and valuable insight to help fix potential issues. That is, unless your in-house team are the reason your design is poor in the first place...
Consult an agency
If you don’t have the in house capabilities or are perhaps even blind to the potential shortcomings of your current design, having an outside set of eyes look things over can be hugely beneficial. Making use of outside expertise could circumvent a lot of headache and allow you to work on the more important central issues of your business, like keeping Kevin’s soy milk out of the cappuccino machine.