Think about the enterprise applications you use frequently. All the great ones feel effortless. Good user experiences are an easy walk to the corner store. Their major functionalities are near intuitive and they guide you to your goal with as few twists and turns as possible. Bad user experiences are a shaky bus ride with multiple layovers and transfers. No end user wants that.
For starters, studies show that 62 percent of customers use past experiences to dictate future purchases. But the importance of a good UX goes deeper than return buyers. The user experience of healthcare, aviation, and finance applications can impact lives in profound, far-reaching ways. The reality is relatively clear: improving application user experience is serious business. So, here are a few strategies to make yours shine.
Planning Your User Experience
What makes a truly good user experience? Usability. Sounds simple enough, but innumerable applications and websites have kept users at arm’s length because of their incomprehensible layouts. A strong UX is good enough to convert users by word-of-mouth.
Take Chase’s mobile application. Much like their online application, the layout is a breeze to navigate. All of the essential features that you would expect from a banking application are intuitive and easy to use. And the nice-to-have features (alerts, ATM finders, etc.) are not buried deep within the core of the application.
The UX is so strong because the team behind this application clearly understands what their end users need. The dashboard itself seems pulled directly from the walking skeleton of a story map. Open up the Move Money tab and each of the main options (Transfer Money, Pay Bills, Wire Transfer, etc.) directly reflect one of the main user activities for a banking customer. Like any good UX design, you can tell this one was built upon three cornerstones of the development process: research, design, and validation.
Before you can create an experience that users will relish in, you need to know as much about their objectives and business needs as possible. Interviews, story mapping, and participant observations are all critical to the gathering of end user data. By putting in all of the initial legwork, your application has the foundation to move from idea nugget to desirable and usable product.
Designing with Users in Mind
User expectations change with the market, evolving new standards. Outdated methodologies and practices lag behind as new bars are set. Good UX designers watch the movements of the industry, improving application user experience in ways that balance user needs with interface trends.
Let’s imagine you are building a content management system for clients across industries. Your users have certain main activities (create content and publish content) that dictate their interaction with your application. Though UX futurists are looking beyond the standard screen, that level of UX innovation is overkill for a CMS. However, a flat UI design is a perfect trend to implement for a good CMS user experience. Flat designs take the clutter out of the process and help navigation overall.
The key to choosing UX elements comes down to one major question: does it help or hinder your users’ primary activities? Hopping on the bandwagon for the sake of doing so impedes your user experience more often than not.
Testing Your UX Efficiently
Every application, no matter the size, needs to be tested. What you think your end users need during your planning stage might not synch up with reality. In that case, it is better to make mistakes early than take them to launch.
One fear clients mention is that they believe thorough testing will drag down release timelines with dozens of testers. In reality, studies show that most UX problems can be identified with only 5 users testing an application. Five users are enough to obtain varying perspectives without bogging down the process in mounds of feedback.
And if changes to the UX needed to be made, test your application again. You never know if the “fix” will complicate the process until users begin test driving.
The Ultimate Secret to Improving Application User Experience
Improving application user experience needs to be front-of-mind from end to end of the development lifecycle. Developers, designers, project managers, QAs, and everyone in between needs to be oriented in the same direction. However, small or mid-sized businesses may have a hard time allocating all the right personnel or finding the right expertise to deliver a rich user experience in your project.
In those moments, turning to the knowledge and skill of an outsourced IT solutions provider can save you time and money. At AIT Global, we provide end-to-end services from application development and testing services to application maintenance and management of key business processes. Take a look at our outsourced IT solutions and find out how together we can deliver a truly great user experience.