How long has it been since you last used a web or a mobile application? Probably a few hours, if not a few minutes, or seconds ago. You might even be using one right now as you read this article. The thing is, we don’t need apps to survive, but life is so much more comfortable with them. You want to know the latest news? There’s an app for that. You’re bored and want to take a look at what your “friends” are doing? There’s an app for that. You want to meet the love of your life (or you, naively, think that way)? There’s an app for that.
In the digital world we live now, we use apps on a daily basis either in our personal lives or in work to perform a multitude of actions. But there’s a difference between the apps we use as customers, and the apps we use as employees. And that difference is user experience (UX).
UX in the Enterprise - or the lack of it
Let me put it into a different perspective: someone very rich tells you, “look, I have all kind of cars in my garage, just take one — for free.” From the most expensive Aston Martin to the cheapest Fiat, that person has it all. And no, it’s not a scam, at least not in this story. So, which car would you choose? Probably the expensive Aston Martin, right?
Now, imagine a different scenario. You’re working in a small company and, for some reason, your job involves travelling 50 miles every day. You don’t have a car, so your company gives you that old and cheap Fiat from scenario A. Would you say no to it? No, because you didn’t really have a saying in that choice but you need the car to perform your job.
That’s the same difference between customer-facing apps and enterprise (or internal) apps. As a consumer, if you don’t like an app, you can just choose another one that has a better look and feel. But with enterprise apps, you don’t have much of choice; you’re just stuck to it even if it has the worst UX ever.
The problem with UX in enterprise apps, this is, apps that are used to help employees perform their work better and more efficiently, is that unlike customer-facing apps, the user and the buyer are two different personas. Usually, the buyer is the IT department and the management team, while the user is the employee. So, what happens is, the app is built around the buyers’ needs, and not the user. As a consequence, by not reflecting the needs of the user, it might lead to a poor user experience.
But the truth is, enterprise apps with a great UX can bring you a lot of money.
Bringing UX into the enterprise
At the end of the day, enterprise employees are also consumers; they simply don’t have such a wide range of choice as a customer has. In other words, they’re stuck to the app they have to use to perform their jobs. But now imagine an enterprise app that is so user-friendly and intuitive as Instagram or Pinterest.
It’s not only much more pleasant to its users but it can also increase their efficiency. Maybe a task that takes five minutes to perform, can be done in just two and a half. That’s an improvement of 50%. Multiply that for 100 employees and, well, just look at the results.
The thing is, if you actually design an application considering the users’ needs, whether is a customer or an employee, you can understand that a task that takes three clicks to perform can be done in just one. That’s what user experience is all about.
It all starts with research to understand your users’ motivations, needs, habits, behaviors, goals, and even moods. Talk to them, do surveys and usability tests, organize focus-group. Then you’re ready to sketch the workflows in a piece of paper or in a board. Once you do that, you can build high-fidelity prototypes and then take them to your user group to test if the experience is indeed user-friendly.
UX can help you fix small inefficiencies that may look like nothing but, if fixed, can save seconds or even minutes and that can have a huge impact. Plus, intuitive interfaces and experiences can help your company accelerate the onboarding of new employees, and thus, the value they bring to the company.
Transform your enterprise apps
If you don’t know where to start, at Hi Interactive we’re specialized in Front-end OutSystems to help you improve the experience of your existing applications. Our service includes a Live Style Guide Pack to help you increase the user interface consistency of your apps and foster usability.
Want to know more? Let’s talk!