How Great User Interfaces can be Translated into Pure Money
Guest Author: Gil Bouhnick
As individuals we all understand the value of a great user interface. Usability is key for every product we use, whether it’s a software or a physical one. If it’s friendly, easy to use, and self-explanatory – we like it. We understand it. If not – we have something to say.
And yet, when it comes to corporate products, organizations often put little effort in making things friendly and usable.
For some reason, when it comes to products we (or our employees) use in our day-to-day work – we put too much weight on the features and too little emphasis on the user interface. As if we forget what matters to us the most.
I think it’s because user interface seems like something that is important on an individual level, but hard to be translated into real dollar value, so I decided to give it a try, and explain how a great user interface can be translated into pure money.
Here are 5 ways user interface can make your organization more profitable.
#1 Faster work means more work in less time
Traditional enterprise products were built as systems of record. Bottom up, they were designed from the database layer up to the infrastructure, server, and only then came the client. Systems of record are great for the records, but not as great for people. You often find yourself going through long interaction with the software just to complete a simple action. Protected, secured, valid… but not convenient.
Modern software is designed top down; it starts with the user, his needs, his workflows, and is designed to let the user achieve more with minimal interaction and clicks. The servers are there to serve the users. The databases are serving the servers. This is the right hierarchy.
This means the users can become more efficient, and waste less time on operating the software.
When employees spend less time with their applications – they free up time to do more of their actual work. When they are efficient with their apps, they don’t waste time cracking their heads how to operate it.
Simple user interface brings higher efficiency of each employee. This can be translated into more work done in less time.
And more important: it saves tons of money.
#2 A friendly user interface can reduce training costs
The training budget can be very expensive for large or global organizations. Bringing people in, planning the sessions, taking workers away from their jobs for a few working days. I’ve seen organizations spend days and even weeks on training. The logistics cost a fortune (especially in global organizations) and the time spent preparing and performing the training is very long.
Think about the last time you needed help or training on how to use an iPhone app you just downloaded. I would assume never, because modern apps are so self-explanatory they don’t require training.
According to ADT Research, a company who helps business leaders and workplace learning and performance professionals understand and the learning and development industry, spending on training in 2014 remains a priority. The report states that on average, direct learning expenditure per employee is $1,208. Of course, there are many factors that influence this number for an organization, such as size and industry.
Infographic source: http://files.astd.org/Research/Infographics/SOIR-2014-Infographic.pdf
Products that focus on the user end up being clear and easy to use. Even the advanced ones can be taught in minutes or hours instead of days. They can be taught using online courses, like video capsules. I’ve seen such cases in real-life, and when it works well it’s amazing, modern and efficient.
Oh, and more important: it saves tons of money.
#3 Great user interface increases users’ engagement
It’s no secret corporate employees don’t get the chance to select the tools they work with. Their managers dictate their working environment and the apps are part of it. Often those apps are used by the employees, but provide value for the management (think of time tracking apps as a good example). In these situations, the employees are most likely to dislike those tools; not only do they not get any real value out of them, they add work (i.e. reporting hours and activities), they slow them down, and serve the management instead.
This is where great UI can come to the rescue. Users love apps that are friendly, look good and more importantly – feel good. Engagement of users can be increased if the user interface is simple and fun to use.
In many cases cool apps with delightful characteristics (i.e. animations, gestures), or Gamification elements can also improve user engagement by turning Sisyphean tasks into fun ones.
Take a good example from this ClickSoftware app that uses gamification to help with change management, and dramatically reduce the time for adoption of new service processes.
While this one is not trivial to achieve, it’s crucial for the success of any tool you wish to implement within your organization. Non-engaged employees can certainly damage or even fail any software within the enterprise.
Oh, and I almost forgot, this can save tons of money.
#4 Those apps are part of your brand
Whether it’s a small web-page allowing customers to perform appointment booking, or part of your field-representatives’ mobile app where customers are asked to sign – those small pieces of software are part of your company’s brand.
Every time a customers come in touch with these user interfaces they “touch” your brand. It’s critical to make the most out of those moments as customers today can easily switch from one service to another. You want them to remember any interaction with your company (whether it’s through a phone call, through operating your service or product, or by filling a form in your website) as a great one. The whole “user experience” depends on quality of products, services, and perception of brands.
And less (but still) important: it saves tons of money.
#5 Free up some of that brain for being creative again
Imagine the following scene: you sit in a fancy restaurant and your waiter (or waitress) is using a tablet take your order. While you talk to him hoping to get some recommendations, he is busy operating the tablet; opening forms, scrolling and swiping. It looks like he is doing something to set up your order but he is definitely not with you right now. This is bad customer service.
Apps that are hard to operate snatch all your attention away and leave no room for “human” activities such as listening to the customer, paying attention to his needs, thinking creatively, and other things that are just gone when you are busy figuring out how to complete your app processes.
Make sure your apps are simple, quick & easy to use, so your employees can free up some of their energy and mindset to be the best in what they do.
Oh, and by the way… this will probably end up saving money to the organization as well.