What’s common between Apple, Google, Amazon, MailChimp, Skype, Mozilla, Fitbit, AirBnB, Houzz, Living Social, and Wufoo? While some of them are global technology giants, some are relatively less known!
Well, for one, they are hugely successful in their respective domains. Second, and more importantly, they have mastered the art of creating superior user experiences for their users.
User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are increasingly becoming differentiators in a crowded market-place with multiple, ‘me-too’ products, services and solutions. The increased proliferation of smartphones has been a catalyst for the same. The ability to access desired features quickly, and process transactions while on the move, is no longer dependent on Internet access or speed, but largely to a good UI/UX design.
Statistics to show the importance of UI/UX in a customer’s buying journey. While consumer-facing apps have driven the trend towards a seamless User Experience, best practises from them are being adopted within enterprise applications too. As more and more millennials and Gen-Yers enter the workforce, they are demanding the same convenience and speed in enterprise CRM, SCM, DRM and HCM solutions.
Tips for a great User Experience in Enterprise apps
Technology teams that develop Enterprise applications such as a HCM solution now comprise UI/UX specialists who provide a sound strategy and market-knowhow on how to create a superior User Experience. While some of the trends have been in vogue from a decade or more, newer ones have emerged to replicate those found in apps created for handheld devices.
Limited use of Web-forms: Forms that have been used to capture a whole lot of information for various purposes have been replaced by features such as inline validation, wizards, default settings and progressive disclosure (hiding advanced settings).
Use of Master-Detail Views: Instead of navigating through umpteen screens, now, one has master-detail views, a feature popularized by MS-Windows. Here, a left pane provides a list of items and selecting any of them reveals details in the right pane.
Dashboards: Popularized by CRM applications, today Dashboards are being used in every industry sector and software. The user logins to the software and is presented summary information in a graphic form, with links to each of the referred fields or data points.
Attractive and simplified tables: Monochromatic and boring tables are now being replaced with multi-hued ones. So also, complex and bulky tables are being replaced by simplified ones with various filters and multiple page-views.
Print-friendly reports: The process of choosing fields to derive a report has become simpler over time. Further, report designs are being optimized for monochromatic printers, and softwares such as MS-Excel, MS-Word and PDF where they are exported to.
Modal windows: A popular feature in current-day websites, Modal windows are pop-ups that motivate a user to take some action before proceeding. The underlying data is grayed out so as to not distract the user. Modal windows can be used in enterprise apps such as HCM to capture milestone-based feedback or data.
Hover controls: Previously, enterprise apps that had multiple controls displayed them in a static fashion using tree-views or master-detail views, giving them a cluttered look. Today, hover controls are used, to display multiple controls if and only when the cursor hovers on a particular item.
Controls on demand: Here, second level controls on some of the features are displayed only if and when a user navigates to a particular section, and if they are required based on certain preset conditions. This makes the UI look simple, and the features - easy to grasp.
Expanding Forms: When some inputs had to be captured from the user, for ex, data fields, or form uploads, multiple data fields or upload windows were previously displayed all at once, like a list. Now, with expanding forms, they are displayed progressively, as and when the previous action is completed.
Labels inside the inputs forms: With shrinking real estate on forms, developers no longer have the space to show labels of a data field, adjacent to the field. The label is now moved inside the data field, and disappears once the user starts entering text there. This is also being replicated for the login process in several sites and applications.
Icons instead of text: It's self-explanatory.
Context-based controls: A radical approach to software, this implies that the user only gets to see those controls, fields or menus that he requires to complete the current action, while all others are grayed out and progressively displayed as and when needed.
In addition to this, there are a host of other features such as the use of color-coded lists, keyboard shortcuts to all the features, upgrade options from the account page, UI customization templates, gamification features, social mechanics, empathetic messages, etc.
The heightened emphasis on UI/UX in enterprise apps such as the HCM ensures employees are engaged better, and face minimum to zero inconvenience or frustration. To the enterprise, this translates into fewer support calls, a motivated workforce, and quick completion of routine tasks. All of these have a direct impact on the organization’s bottom-line and help maximize ROI from the IT Infrastructure.