Although the design and development of consumer-facing applications has made leaps forward, the world of enterprise software has been slow to keep up. Too often, enterprise apps continue to rank low in usability, leaving end users dissatisfied.
Employees struggle with overly complicated enterprise solutions, whilst losing valuable time and productivity. At the same time, employee experience and motivation may take a hit. In fact, Tech Pro Research revealed that enterprise software UX was significantly worse compared to consumer-facing apps, according to 44 percent of respondents.
For a quick snapshot on the value of UX, see our handy infographic The Power of UX in Enterprise Apps.
What is usability?
Usability is the degree of ease with which users can use products such as software and web applications to achieve their desired goals efficiently and effectively. It assesses how easily users can interact with your app’s UI. We've all experienced the frustration with apps that are confusing to use in our daily lives and the relief of intuitive interfaces that deliver on their promise.
The usability of an app is determined by how well its features accommodate users’ needs and contexts. A great design guides users through the easiest and least labor-intensive route to accomplishing what they want. Common elements of great usability can be categorized by the following five “E’s”:
- Effective – The app design supports users in completing actions accurately.
- Efficient – These actions can be performed quickly, with the least amount of effort.
- Engaging – The app is pleasant to use and provides utility to the user.
- Error-tolerant – Errors are corrected independently by the app where possible, or the app informs the user and allows them to correct errors easily.
- Easy to learn – Learning to use the app is simple and new users can accomplish goals fast.
Studies by the Norman Nielsen Group, a renowned design and UX consultancy, reveal that even simply observing and interviewing five users usually uncovers about 85 percent of all the usability problems within an app. Yet, in its research on the business value of design, McKinsey found that over 40 percent of companies surveyed didn’t consult end users during the development process.
But thankfully, this practice is changing. Current trends are putting more pressure on leaders to consider design and usability factors in the development of their software.
Trends driving enterprise UX and usability
UX and usability have long been an afterthought in the enterprise app development process. The focus has mainly been on including as much functionality and as many features as possible, without taking the time to understand how the app will be used by the end users – i.e., employees – or to consider their unique workflows.
However, a few key trends are significantly shaping and shifting the way enterprises operate today. As a result, the value of good design is difficult to ignore – especially if you want to be an industry leader.
In brief, some of the key trends are:
- Changes in technology – The rise of the cloud, mobile computing, and data analytics calls for new design capabilities in enterprise apps.
- The rise of ‘consumer employees’ – The influx of a younger generation of employees are used to the superior UX provided by the consumer apps found in their pockets. They are easily frustrated by the complexity, clunkiness, and poor usability of enterprise apps – especially if they run on outdated technology. In addition, hybrid forms of working require new solutions to the way global teams collaborate.
- The digital revolution – As industries across the board, from healthcare to finance and governmental bodies, become more digitized, new products and solutions need to be designed to support these changes and new processes.
Read more on the Tech Trends for the Modern Enterprise Web app.
Modern workplaces require modern apps
Companies that place usability at the core of their business model win big-time. Lower support costs, higher customer retention rates, and increased market share are all examples of what organizations have to gain from improving usability.
Forrester found that every dollar invested in UX returns 100 dollars. This is potentially a 9,900 percent ROI you don’t want to miss out on.
From the rise in the start-up culture to the adoption of lean and agile processes in larger enterprises, simple, intuitive, and quick-to-learn software is being favoured. As a result, processes become more efficient and employees more productive, allowing companies to be more responsive to changes and to deliver value quicker.
For example, AXPM (today known as GreyFinch) built an all-in-one platform for dental and dental speciality practices to run their entire business, from revenue to property and customer data. All this functionality was built with one goal in mind: delivering superb end-user experience by simplifying what a person working in the business needs to know.
The end result has been praised by customers, as well as internally at AXPM. Read the full customer success story: How AXPM is making dental practices UX first with Vaadin’s support.
The bottom line
It’s simple. When employees enjoy the software they work with on a daily basis, it boosts their engagement and productivity. For your company, this can translate into increased loyalty, greater efficiency, and more bang for your buck.
Have you got questions about your app’s usability? Our design experts are here to help you. Get in touch!
Or, have your team build the next-generation enterprise app – and get started with Vaadin today.