Security products are not simple e-commerce websites. They are enterprise software products that enable pivotal business goals for customers. Yet as complexity grows, ease of use and other aspects of user experience (UX) can be overlooked and de-prioritized to make way for more features.
But as Haroon Meer of Thinkst was quoted in CSO Online:
“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 Buckle
Any 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.
Reduce the risk of impacting productivity when launching new features by testing with users during development. Through user experience (UX) testing, you will be able to validate that new offerings will be usable and learnable.
By making such UX validation a consistent piece of product development, your company can create the expectation of usable and learnable products. When your customers are willing to upgrade faster or try new features, your development group will be able to spend less time on sustaining old product versions and more time developing new solutions.
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 Jobs
For 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 Edison
Innovation 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 Nielsen
Consistency 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. Hall
Building 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.
Developing strong relationships with customers increases their loyalty to your brand and company. They might not like everything in your products, but if they feel you are listening to them and actively improving their experience, it may outweigh flashy competitors boasting a longer list of (often useless) features.
“The ‘sweet spot’ where UX improvements give value to both camps.” –Joe Natoli author of Think First
The 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.