We all want our business-critical tools to be user-friendly, right? Yet, not too long ago, a moderated UX test I organized with some of our software users was met with deep sighs and eye-rolling. What made these users react like this? Clearly, they had their reasons, and maybe there was a little more work we needed to do to get a happy ending.
As an experienced user experience (UX) designer, the first thing I need to do is understand the circumstances and operational context in which the solution is to be used.
The packaging industry is a stressful business that’s all about creating multiple types of packaging at a rapid pace. Operators of manufacturing units are constantly focused on delivering to promise, and on immediately fixing any problem that might occur. They don’t want to be distracted by anything. They also have to do quality control at set intervals often involving going through a lengthy and unstructured checklist , with many finding it a rather unwelcome diversion from their main objective.
But do they really? We talked to the users, and they indeed confirmed that quality control does feel a bit like overhead to them. Even though they understand how important quality control is, the relevance of the checklist is not always clear. They also felt they weren’t given enough time in their schedule to do it properly.
For us, this was valuable information. If users say they dislike the task they’re faced with, it makes sense to improve the UX design so that it works for them. Good UX design can make tasks easier and can make their purpose more real to the user.
In a checklist tool such as the one in question, you could, for example, reorder and regroup the items to create a more logical workflow, and make it easier to use, so that it all becomes more efficient. You could also create configuration options to allow companies to adjust the tool to their policies and UX preferences.
None of these UX design features should compromise the quality of the work. On the contrary, UX design is increasingly seen as a top priority for companies creating software.
Taking it to a higher level, I believe this kind of collaboration with customers is crucial. It’s impossible to overestimate how important it is for application designers to make site visits to listen to what end users have to say — open to suggestions and think-along — while digging deeper when user comments are not completely clear. It’s the best way to understand users and involve them in the design process.
So, what about that happy ending? Instead of those deep sighs and that eye-rolling, you’ll have enthusiastic users fully embracing their work, impatiently asking: “When can we have this new solution you’re working on?”
A designer with a reputation for empathizing with the end user, Nick focuses on the interaction between users and digital products and services to create the best possible user experience.