"It seems to me that we (the developers of security products) need to realise that our products now compete in the marketplace with products that have invested heavily in good UX and design, and that increasingly, these become table stakes for building a product. (Actually delighting the customer becomes a requirement for organic sales & growth)."Let’s dive into five ways that investing in user experience can add greater value to your business: quicker adoptions, happy users, more innovation, consistency/brand recognition, and building stronger relationships.
1. Quicker Adoption
"To simplify complications is the first essential of success." –George Earle BuckleAny business wants users to adopt the newest version of its software or a new product offering. But as customers, we’ve all experienced the frustration and impact to productivity when we've had to endure a new upgrade that just... didn’t work. As a result, customers can lag in their adoption of new versions and products, hanging back based on previous bad experiences. The resulting increase in sustaining work for R&D departments leads to a diminished capacity to create new and innovative products for the business to market and sell.
2. Happy Users
"Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves." –Steve JobsFor the past ten years, enterprise users have been subjected to painfully complex pieces of software that all claim to be better and more powerful than the last. In the race to grow their feature list faster than the competition, companies have lost sight of their users. Left behind to fend for themselves, users are sometimes mad, sometimes confused, but mostly frustrated. These users talk – whether through social media, conferences, or training workshops, our users are more connected than ever. Turn the topic of conversation from complaints to compliments by applying user-centered design methodologies and adopting a user-centered mindset during product development. Both go a long way in developing happy users, and those happy users can be your company's best cheerleaders. When properly implemented, user-centered design can create products that truly delight users. UX practitioners conduct user testing sessions and employ interview techniques to elicit users’ needs and uncover their goals. The benefits of these activities are twofold: listening to users allows UX teams to collect valuable data for future product development while the user feels valued and considered. Your company must also be invested and engaged in the happiness of your customers through continuous improvements based on user input. The commitment to happy customers should be widespread through every department in your organization, not just customer support and user experience.
3. More Innovation
"There’s a way to do it better – find it." –Thomas EdisonInnovation is key to your business's continued success. The technology world continues to transform and evolve at rapid speeds, and companies must continue to innovate faster than ever before. One way to support such fast cycle times is to have a strong feedback loop between the people building the solutions and its users. Regular access to real-world feedback is invaluable, along with a structure that can digest and interpret that data for future improvements and innovations. UX teams often practice brainstorming techniques and engage in increasingly popular “design thinking” to create innovative solutions. More broadly across organizations, an acceptance of experimentation and an understanding of failures as learning can provide the support that leads teams to breakthrough solutions.
4. Consistency / Brand Recognition
"Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing." –Jakob NielsenConsistency is as important in design as it is in product marketing. The benefits of consistency start with quicker adoption, as discussed earlier, but can then dovetail perfectly into brand recognition. Apple is a perfect example of using design consistency to elevate their brand recognition to what it is today: when you see a pair of white earbuds sticking out of a coat pocket, don’t you immediately think of Apple? A mature UX practice in your company will ensure the use of common style guides and pattern libraries. The application of a single style guide and pattern library can help unify disparate product lines while also reducing development time as artifacts are reused across products and features.
5. Building Strong Relationships
"The information is in the people, not in your head." –Edward T. HallBuilding strong relationships with your customers is invaluable to sustaining a successful business. Having a strong User Experience organization is one way to build those relationships. Although not a replacement for a holistic Customer Experience (CX) discipline in your company, UX can be a main conduit for a company to interface with its users. UX practitioners are creating new relationships with customers every day when practicing user-centered design. Here are some methods for growing healthy relationships with customers through UX:
- Validate that you are listening to them by sharing changes that were implemented based on their feedback.
- Be honest with timelines: not every problem can be fixed immediately and it is better to be transparent.
- Be the backup for other employees in the organization and help close the loop on other actions items on behalf of your customers.
- Encourage ongoing conversations and communication: a relationship should be a two-way street.
"The 'sweet spot' where UX improvements give value to both camps." –Joe Natoli author of Think FirstThe discussion above demonstrates how organizations can benefit from focusing on user experience. Achieving even one of these five principles will be a positive step forward in adding value to your business via user experience—while improving the effectiveness of the product that impacts so much of your customer’s business, like enterprise security products do.