User experience remains one of the most important criteria in determining the success of enterprise software. Regardless of the type of app or the audience it is geared toward, poor UX will easily sink a piece of software before it ever has a chance to find its footing. Even if a given application is functionally sound, various factors could tarnish its UX, turning away potential users. Given the high costs involved in both app and software development and testing, business leaders cannot afford to have a program fail in this manner. To avoid such expensive scenarios, development teams should improve UX at every opportunity. Here are three ways to do just that:
1. Develop for the end user
This may sound obvious, but software developers need to create applications that meet the needs of their intended audience. The truth is that many teams lose sight of this basic, yet critical, notion. They spend so much time making sure that an application functions properly and that certain bells and whistles make their way into the final product that UX gets put in the background. Even the most helpful piece of software will fail to find an audience if it is too much trouble to actually use on a regular basis.
“Developers need to create applications that meet the needs of their audience.”
Enterprise software developers should be particularly cognizant of this point and create applications that are geared toward the average employee. Consumers are a shrewd audience, but enterprise users are arguably even more discerning when it comes to adopting an app. Anything that is too convoluted to quickly pick up, learn and effectively wield will likely be dropped in favor of a more intuitive program. By anticipating the needs and demands of these users, developers can craft more effective software that offers better engagement.
2. Bury the hatchet
Developers and designers do not always see eye to eye – that just comes with the territory. However, these two groups need to work in concert if they are to produce a product with flawless UX. A recent study commissioned by Kony found that an inability of designers and developers to get along was one of the most common pain points for software development projects. According to DeveloperTech, some surveyed designers complained that their advice and design expertise is often pushed to the wayside by developers. Without the guidance of design teams, a software project can quickly go off the rails, particularly in regard to critical concerns such as user interface.
Under these circumstances, production teams are essentially left with two choices: spend the additional time and resources fixing resulting UX problems or simply release the app as is. Neither option is ideal since they will both likely lead to lost revenue – or worse. A rushed piece of software with problematic UX could damage an organization’s reputation in addition to the loss of potential sales. For enterprise apps, employees will refuse to adopt such programs, resulting in wasted design, development and QA costs. Furthermore, staff members may be less likely to give future releases a chance if they have lost faith in their company’s ability to create high-quality software or applications in-house.
If designers and developers work together from the outset of a project and focus their efforts on creating an intuitive and easy-to-manage UI, they will put themselves in a much better position to offer end users quality UX.
3. Get agile
When implemented effectively, agile methodologies can be a boon for enterprise software UX. One of the major tenets of agile is that developers should continually listen to user feedback to improve their applications and create finished products that better meet the needs of their intended audience.
Despite the focus agile puts on end-user feedback, some in the development community have worried that the practice could ultimately prove to be detrimental to UX. A recent Zymr blog post noted that because agile processes are typically broken down into smaller chunks like regular sprints, development teams could lose sight of the broader picture when it comes to UX.
However, organizations can happily marry the mindset behind agile with the goal to provide high-quality UX. For one, agile assumes that users can’t really know what they want from a piece of software until they have it sitting in front of them. Because of this, multiple release iterations are built into the agile process, so even if the first version is not up to snuff, developers and designers can gather feedback and make improvements.
“Users can’t really know what they want from software until it’s sitting in front of them.”
The Zymr post suggested that designers and developers take a parallel track approach to UX. This involves the design team working one step ahead of developers, making improvements to the UI while their counterparts write code. Once a particular sprint is released, designers can then check the usability of that build to ensure the UX meets expectations.
UX and customer experience design should always be at the forefront for developers, designers and quality assurance teams when creating any new piece of software. It is important that project stakeholders consider the entire scope of what constitutes UX. UI is one aspect, but so is user engagement, ease of use and the overall value that an app or piece of software offers. By keeping these factors in mind, development teams can create better software that addresses user needs effectively.