The software has become a foundational tool for modern business. Most businesses use software for basic functions like tracking hours worked, generating payroll, managing expenses, email marketing, and tracking customer data. Many of these software programs come loaded with useful features but ultimately rely on usability to be effective. Usability depends on interface design, and the user must also know what they want to accomplish.
For example, say you’re using Infusionsoft as a CRM, and you want to track how your email list interacts with your content. You can track data like clicks, opens, purchases, replies, new subscribers, unsubscribes, etc. You can even automatically apply a new tag to users that click on a specific link and simultaneously add them to another mailing list. However, if you don’t understand you need to program the automation, those features will be useless.
All software has a learning curve, but the interface design should be intuitive enough that users can learn their way around. Infusionsoft happens to be one of the most advanced yet complex CRMs on the market. Its interface isn’t intuitive right away, but it’s easy to learn the basics with a few tutorials. Once a user understands how to program their goals, the interface becomes intuitive.
When an interface is intuitive, both the end user and the software developer benefit financially. The user will continue to use the software, which supports business revenue. They’ll promote it by word of mouth and leave positive reviews, which supports the software developers in generating more customers.
According to UX Measure, the revenue impact from a 10% point improvement in a company’s customer experience score could translate into more than $1 billion. An intuitive design is the beginning of a remarkable customer experience.
Sometimes it’s possible to struggle through a poorly designed interface without sacrificing the application’s effectiveness. For instance, say you’re using a calculator app with bad typography and distracting colors, but the layout of the keypad is normal. Your eyes might hurt using it, but the design won’t prevent you from getting correct answers to your calculations.
Interfaces that serve more complex purposes aren’t as forgiving. For instance, say you’re a Photoshop whiz, and your boss asks you to design a flyer using a free graphics program. You know how to create graphics, but if you don’t recognize the tool icons or you can’t figure out how to add layers, you won’t be able to produce any results. In this regard, familiarity is an important component of good design.
The more complex functions an application performs, the simpler the design should be. The effectiveness of business intelligence dashboards, for example, is absolutely dependent on a simple design. Business intelligence dashboards drive decisions in marketing, sales, finances, and even team management. Good design is simple by default and gives users the option to arrange combinations of dashboard components as they need.
As Datapine explains, creating better business dashboard designs improves effectiveness through improving usability. This requires following five simple best practices: make metrics matter, stick to visuals, make it interesting, keep data relevant, and make the design simple and accessible.
For example, a well-designed marketing dashboard will display open rates, click through rates, spam reports, and unsubscribes from a specific time period side-by-side rather than forcing the user to view each metric individually. All of these stats are related and should be made available at-a-glance. Forcing a user to view each metric individually creates frustration and eliminates the ability to contemplate data holistically.
Often, a good design allows users to customize the configuration of their user interface. However, according to research conducted by the Nielson Norman Group, users often encounter severe usability issues when attempting to customize their experience. The difficulty generally arises when customization options are complex, or defaults don’t support the average user’s needs, and users have to create custom configurations to meet basic needs.
When designing a user interface, keep in mind that users will probably make decisions based on the way data is displayed. Data-driven decisions are only as correct as the interpretation of that data, and a good design supports the accurate interpretation.
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