Most requirement lists contain a “make it simple” or “make it user-friendly” request. Easy to say – not so easy to do. In fact, making a complex system appear simple and intuitive is hard work. It requires a thorough user-centered and collaborative approach. In the end, the pay-off is not just a more usable system, but also one that will save costs and time in many ways.
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
– Albert Einstein
What's good for your users is good for your business
Following a user-centered design approach helps clarify the user and business needs up front and avoids costly rework in later stages.
According to an oft-cited IEEE Spectrum article entitled Why Software Fails, about 15% of all development projects fail, while many others are late and over budget or require expensive rework. Among the top reasons why IT projects fail are three that are directly related to user experience:
- Badly defined requirements
- Poor communication between customers, developers and users
- Stakeholder politics
UX activities such as stakeholder interviews, user research, user testing, and early prototyping can therefore help prevent these issues. The output is a combination of personas, user journeys, site maps, process flow diagrams, wireframes and clickable prototypes that help establish a clear scope and common understanding between business and development – thus saving time and money spent on redeveloping an unusable system.
Besides avoiding costly rework, a well-designed system has other benefits:
- More sales and repeat customers: for public and e-commerce sites, it means 1) increased, longer lasting visits; 2) higher sales; and 3) repeat customers
- Credibility: a consistent, usable application or site will appear more trustworthy and have a positive effect on the brand and overall value proposition
- Productivity: for internal applications, improving the efficiency and accuracy of task completion is a major advantage as it allows employees to be more productive
- User adoption: users are more likely to embrace a system that feels intuitive, comfortable, and familiar
- Less training and fewer support calls: well-designed systems require little to no training – the same goes for support calls as the tool is optimized to prevent errors and offer contextual guidance to the users
In summary, positive user experiences lead to better business results.