5 Reasons Why an Intuitive User Experience is Critical
Let’s start by pointing out that “User Experience” and “User Interface” are two different things. Without running the risk of oversimplifying things, essentially the second is an element that influences the first. User experience is defined as “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service” by ISO 9241-210, the international standard on ergonomics of human system interaction. There is more to user experience than having nice screens with beautiful buttons and colors. User experience encompasses many other things, such as on-screen location of software functions, number of clicks, drag-and-drop functionality, workflows, etc.
An intuitive user experience has tangible effects on employee productivity, whether it is an EHS, Sustainability or Risk software, or any other type of software. Here are five reasons why an intuitive user experience is critical.
1) Cost-Effective Implementation
Selecting and purchasing the software is only the first step. You still have to go through the implementation. If the software offers an intuitive user experience, the implementation becomes easier because the users who will be the software administrators get acquainted with the system faster, therefore requiring less implementation time, and thus reducing implementation costs in the process. During the implementation, an intuitive user experience allows software administrators to spend more time actually using and setting up the software, than learning about how to use it.
2) Accelerated User Adoption Throughout the Enterprise
Imagine that you are the VP of EHS or Risk Management in a company, and you successfully convinced the CFO to approve an investment of many hundreds of thousands of dollars for an EHS or Risk platform that will be used by 500 users. About a year after the system goes live, only 54 people are on the new platform, while the other 446 are still using the good old spreadsheet-based system, because the new platform is difficult and annoying to use. The CFO drops by your office and asks: “So…how many people out of 500 are using that software for which we paid hundreds of thousands of dollars?”. You get the picture. After a successful implementation, you still have to roll out the software to the entire user base and make sure that all users throughout the company are on it. Having an intuitive user experience encourages user adoption of the system, which supports the Return on Investment (ROI) that justified the initial software purchase.
3) Lower Ongoing Training Costs
The software will change over the years, so will your users. In addition, you may support additional business processes through your EHS, Sustainability and Risk software. These changes imply that you may need to get additional user training. However, if your software has an intuitive user experience, you have more flexibility regarding the way you address training needs. You may decide to forego the training offered by the software vendor and simply have another user train the new user(s), or you may decide to adopt a “train-the-trainer” approach and have only one of your users receive training. Contrast this with software that does not have an intuitive user experience: given how complex the use of the software could be, you may be required to send many users to training, thus increasing the software’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), not to mention the lost productivity of your employees.
4) Cost-Effective Upgrades
Software upgrades, especially in the EHS, Sustainability and Risk area, are inevitable due to regulatory changes, improvements brought by vendors and end-of-support policies for older versions. The good news is that some vendors try to make things as smooth as possible by limiting the number of new software versions in the course of a year, or offering their solutions in a SaaS model. But new software versions might still require training on new screens, workflows, etc. If the user experience is intuitive, user adoption of the new version becomes less problematic, thus resulting in a quicker upgrade and therefore lesser costs and better employee productivity.
5) Better Scalability
Companies go through mergers and acquisitions, expand into new markets and countries, and experience rapid growth leading to more employees. All these factors lead to situations where you have to expand the use of the software to other users. An intuitive user experience allows a faster expansion and adoption of the software, thus preventing costly operational inefficiencies. In addition, you can optimize training costs by having the flexibility to choose your preferred approach, as described in the above section on training.
The key takeaway is that an intuitive user experience is not just about esthetics and making things beautiful. It is also about helping companies save valuable time and money. If you are in the process of evaluating software, be sure to provide a high level of importance to the user experience aspect of the vendor’s solution. This will help you avoid unnecessary hardships, delays and costs that undermine the ROI and add to the TCO of the software.