Case of UI & UX in Enterprise Software for Cognitive Ergonomics

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 on software we use everyday? Like Netflix, Apple designed, social media, etc. 

We generally stop using software which has a horrible user experience because there is a better option on the market. Companies who bring bad user experience to the market 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 a good user experience? 

I think the answer is a clear yes. Yet why does internal custom built software have such bad UI so often? 

Employees using the software with bad user experience don’t often even realize how much weight it puts on their shoulders. 

Imagine going through a long process of writing a blog post or edit on a page for it just to be disappearing 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 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 users perspective? 

storytime cognitive ergonomics

Storytime!

You go ahead with the RFP regardless and browse through the replies. 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 panel…..

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 – even most simple tasks. 

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 practise 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

User experience - Hierarchy of needs

The UX Hierarchy of Needs

Physiological

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 users eyes? How many clicks do you need to find something and is the navigation intuitive? How much the user needs to remember instead of the software guiding them? 

Safety

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? 

Love/Belonging

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? 

Esteem

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. 

Self-Actualization

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? 

Learnings

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. 

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