When it comes to business software most people think of complex, uninspiring interfaces which office employees hate to use. This is mainly because of two reasons: software companies work towards features not outcomes, and they rarely ask the end-users what they really need.
What is that important outcome your team strives for but can’t get without the right software? Is it a faster workflow? Better cost efficiency around internal company training? Stronger customer relationships? When that question is clear, the design team can reverse engineer to build the right features that are aligned with that vision. Good designers lead users to success using empathy.
The incorrect assumption is that a collection of ‘exciting' features will equate to a 360 solution. The belief is that team members will assimilate and engage with a new software when all those brilliant tools are implemented thus achieving instant workflow improvement. This is hardly ever the case — because we forget that employees are surrounded by consumer apps with wonderful experiences designed for them. They know what a good digital product feels like. So why should it be any different for the software they need to use at work?
It shouldn’t be. Productivity comes out of an organised, coherent and enjoyable environment. When the tools are built by people (yes BY people — facilitated by a good software company), the interface will be, by definition, intuitive. When the experience is tested repeatedly (and continuously throughout the product’s lifetime) with the users themselves, and a set of desired outcomes are studied, an enjoyable experience is unavoidable.
The recipe is simple: Defined outcomes + continuous testing = the features we need.
When the features are built to achieve a clearly defined set of goals, and when they are tested over and over by asking team members: Is this what you want? How can we make it better? — we are left with a strong product foundation that can be measured for its success.