Many years back a client shared their experience with me, and to this day it has a powerful impact on how I view the importance of software user interfaces. At the time, one of our developers modified a program and organized the entry screen in what seemed to them like the most logical field arrangement. It just so happened that this modification added an extra keystroke for the end-user. It wasn’t long before a client called and explained how a few extra seconds per keystroke, multiplied by hundreds of thousands of entries per year, translated into thousands of dollars lost in productivity for them. It was an important lesson, one that forever modified our approach.
Software design is a science. Good software design starts with a thorough understanding of the end-user through research. It needs to take into consideration their daily work, background, goals, needs, interactions and pain points. And it needs to adapt for different user roles. Understanding the end-user provides valuable insight into how the software will be used.
A good software provider will apply these insights to the product, designing software that is clear and intuitive. Effective design should result in end-user efficiencies gained from a variety of places. If the software works the way they do, they will spend less time figuring out how to use it and more time focused on the tasks at hand. They will spend less time getting help from co-workers or support desks. And they will be able to train new workers more efficiently.
It doesn’t end there. Great software results from a series of testing and refinement with actual end users. It is an involved process, but well worth the effort.
There are a few different programs that focus on software user experience. The one I am most familiar with is Human Factors International. This is the organization that my company uses to certify our usability research and design analysts. Certification ensures that there is a clear understanding of the research-based principles of designing software interfaces from the perspective of the end-user. And it ensures that user-centric design methods and standards are utilized.
Our Usability Research & Design video explains how Tyler keeps the client at the center of our software development initiatives.