Better User Experience – Better Life

As consumers, we’ve encountered the satisfaction of an alluring and easy-to-use browser-based application that was built with a user interface in mind. At work, however, we’re still experiencing behind-times, uncomfortable, and unattractive business software. Why?

Interesting discussions about alternative user interface solutions may arise by designers and critics on social forums, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Hacker News, when new systems are introduced to a wide spectrum of consumers. However, to a novice, these alternative solutions may seem more logical, comprehensible, and preferred. The experienced community has so much input to offer software creators, which is being completely underutilized.

There is more pressure to ‘design smarter’ as consumers gain more access to a variety of well-designed, browser-based applications that are made with user interface experts and agile methods. However, we are still dealing with behind-times, awkward, and unattractive business software. Why are we seeing a lack of polish with pure consumer products?

I’ve worked in technology marketing for 25+ years, and have seen how challenging user interface design can be, whether for a physical device or a piece of software. Lots of opinions are thrown about, and tensions can get high. At Dooap, we develop business software to make the everyday routines of corporate employees easier. As an integral part of our development project, I experienced first-hand what agile development with user experience front and center looks like. What makes it look and feel so good?

Old to new – clumsy to easy

When a new software or feature is being created, there’s something from the past forging it. Such as a previous method, structures, and terminology that was agreed upon ages ago, viewpoints and processes that have always been in use. I think a good user experience is an outcome of bringing two types of people together: those who have mastered and understand the processes behind it all and the user interface experts, who are willing to question and improve upon the established methods. I believe that by blending these two areas of expertise the software can deliver the best of both worlds, resulting in a fresh, improved, richer user experience.

We are focused on creating an excellent user experience from the first steps of development. We define excellence in UX through research and use cases written by and about people who use the software daily. Those users explain their needs and ‘dream software’ to our UX experts, who then create it. This process is repeated to eliminate unnecessary process steps, streamline the experience, and implement better models.

Our team at Dooap is focused on creating an excellent user experience, beginning at the first steps of development. Through research and use cases written by and about people who use the software daily, we are able to define excellence in UX. These users explain their ‘dream software’ and requirements to our UX experts, who then go and create it. We repeat this process to ensure we eliminate unnecessary process steps, streamline the experience and implement better models.

Exposure to customers

It’s great to hear positive feedback from in-house teams but we are aware that at times they may experience a bit of biases. Hence, why we expose our work to our customers early on and throughout the development cycle. Every time we learn something new, we have that a-ha moment and learn how to do things better. The more unfamiliar the market, the more surprises we encounter. Customers seem to like the approach and the opportunity to provide their feedback; Additionally, these meetings are a great opportunity to build and strengthen customer relationships.

I have always been a believer in customer participation. Still, it was a moment of enlightenment when I read Steve Blank’s “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” and learned about the Lean Startup approach and the Customer Development method, relying on continuous validation of development hypotheses through customer feedback. Here’s a link to a good summarizing blog post about the book by Eric Ries.

Many kinds of graphics competecy

We have always believed in the power of the visual and have built our visual identity in collaboration with bold designers. This is why our leading UI designer tests his ideas with the designers of our corporate visual image. This way, we are able to tap into different types of graphic design expertise. Even though our leading UI designer is extremely talented and has a brilliant graphic vision, he still marvels at the useful knowledge he can access with the company graphic designers. The product is only one touchpoint but it is an important component of the brand. No amount of brand marketing can rescue a failure at that touchpoint.

A lot of our team’s hours were spent researching and evaluating poor user interfaces. As software developers, we must pay more attention to the product-level experience when it comes down to productivity and corporate tools. It could make our lives better!

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