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How Strong UX Can Enhance Your Workforce's Productivity

— Learn how to get the most out of UX form and function.

Posted: March 24, 2017

Whether or not your enterprise application increases worker productivity largely depends on its user experience design. The UX must enable end users to execute tasks efficiently and effectively.

Most CIOs emphasize function over form when developing enterprise systems, according to research from Deloitte. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should give form its due diligence to let designers create an optimal UX.

Why you need form and function

If we agree that the purpose of enterprise software is to enhance employees' ability to complete work more efficiently and effectively, then reason suggests form should be equal to function in the development phase.

But most often (and, quite understandably) developers put more energy into ensuring the application does what it’s supposed to, instead of figuring out the easiest way for users to execute various functions.

Deloitte noted one example of how function-oriented design actually obstructed worker productivity. After assessing a major enterprise resource planning system, Deloitte discovered it took users almost 36 steps to create and issue a purchase order.

However, when developers applied UX principles to the ERP, worker productivity increased 300 percent. In addition, it took 55 percent less time to train employees on how to use the application.

You get the picture: Zeroing on the back end is important, but you can’t leave the UI out of the picture. Rather, your development team has to determine how the UI can enable end users to access the powerful logic within your applications in the most efficient manner.

The question then becomes: How do you work UX design into the development process?

How to bring form into the equation

There are a few UX rules of thumb your development team should address when redesigning the application.

The first, and arguably most important guideline, is to test how users interact with the system before rolling it out to the production environment. Gaby Kenyon, one of our UX analysts, maintained that putting the application in front of end users is the best way to identify what’s hitting the mark and what needs some adjustment.

It may help to integrate a group of UX analysts into the development process. Aside from the fact that they'll deliver UX expertise, they'll also provide a fresh perspective on how the application is supposed to operate. Those developing the application may believe a set of functions should execute a certain way, but end users may not agree. UX analysts can identify and explain these discrepancies.

Don’t just take our word for it. Elizabeth Rosenzweig, a principal usability consultant at Bentley University's Design and Usability Center, wrote about how an engineer she worked with created a system according to what he thought was best. Despite the solution's sophistication, end users in Bentley's laboratory had a hard time working with the application. This was because the engineer designed it according to his own intuition, not the users.

The lesson here is that while a development team may think one design is best, the ultimate judge of UX must always be those who use the software.

After the application is in production, continuously monitor individual user experiences. Track how they're utilizing application functions and note which ones they're ignoring. This strategy enables you to continuously improve the system.

At the end of the day, you need employees to efficiently complete their job functions. While your software certainly makes that possible, your users are the ones who execute. In this sense, designing your business apps with UX in mind means form and function complement one another. In less than 10 minutes, you can benchmark your application’s UX using our self-service tool.  Enterprise UX Evaluation Tool