Shall I let you into a little secret? I’m not a good cook. In fact, I’m hopeless. I’m forever burning my dinner in the oven and it just never comes out the way I’d hoped. At least, that was how things were until about six months ago when I bought myself a smartwatch. Now, with my watch always on my wrist and with a press of a button, I can tell it to set a timer (with my voice) for 25 minutes (or however long my dinner will take) and it reminds me to get my dinner out of the oven with a gentle tap on my wrist. Since I’ve used the watch, that tap has been far more welcome than the smell of burning and the ear-piercing screech of the smoke detector that used to let me know my dinner was (over) done. Has that made me a better cook? Definitely not, but at least I can eat what I’ve cooked rather than throwing a charred, inedible mess straight into the bin.
Why am I telling you this? Because my watch gave me a way of saving my dinner that I’ve not had before. Even though I could easily find other timers around my home, none were as easy to set and use as the one on my watch. It’s been well worth using my watch timer and it’s rescued too many dishes to remember. It offers a great user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
I often speak to IT management and senior developers and they tell me that great UX is simply too expensive to implement in enterprise applications. I would argue that UX is no longer an optional ‘nice-to-have’ but absolutely mandatory for modern systems. What we sometimes forget is that our users are consumers too and they’ve been used to a new generation of smart mobile devices with apps that have taken usability to a new level. Often, it’s the UI and UX that separates two similar applications and it’s why consumers choose to use an app or not.
Too often, the enterprise systems we build well into the twenty-first century, still have twentieth-century user interfaces and user experiences.
Users expect better.
When presented with a new system to use (any new system), users will invariably ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ and if the new system they’re being asked to use isn’t easier, faster and better than their previous system, they won’t use it. When it comes to mobile projects, in particular, it’s easy for users to ‘forget to charge’ or ‘accidentally lose’ their devices, or simply find another reason not to use a new system they don’t believe delivers any real added value. User adoption is critical to success and it doesn’t happen without great user experience.
IDG recently published research on why enterprise application projects fail in which it states:
Nearly half of those surveyed say that at least 50% of their software development projects fail; that is, they are either late, over budget, do not meet expectations, or require rework.
Delivery of a great UI and UX goes a long way to meet user expectations, but it’s not something all developers have the skills to provide. The tools we use to build apps need to help and support this effort. What if the development platform had baked-in user interface design themes, architecture and templates that served as guardrails for developers to more easily and quickly embrace modern UX practices? What if those developers could be helped to make the magic happen without all the complexity? In Visual LANSA, we’ve done exactly that by building right into our app development platform, the ability to use Google Material Design to help improve the UI and deliver great UX for the mobile apps you can create.
If the cost of not providing a great user experience is the likelihood that an application project will fail, then surely, we can’t afford not to deliver a great user experience for users.
If you’ll excuse me now, my watch is telling me that my dinner is ready.