Let’s take a trip back in the way back machine, to the rotary dial phone. If you don’t remember it, you have no idea how simple communications was at one time. You dialed the number (all the while cursing your friends, family, or colleagues for having too many 8s, 9s, and 0s in their numbers) and they either answered, you received a busy signal, or they didn’t answer and you hung up and tried again later. Regardless of the result, the process was simple and the experience was positive (unrelated to the call itself, of course). Then you added things like touch-tone dialing, call waiting, and eventually tape-based answering machines, and the level of experience increased, without any real usability challenges.
Perhaps by default, ease of use, intuitiveness and simplicity were the hallmarks of technology back then, and have carried over through the generations. As tech innovation became too complicated for the everyday user, developers were reminded they had to build hardware and software that exhibited these fundamental qualities. The same happens today: Every time a new device or app is launched, the simplicity of design and access to features is among the marketing points, and ease of use and intuitiveness are always among the differentiators or reasons to buy.
We want what we want, and we want it now – and we don’t want to have to work to get there. A click or two should be enough. And, frankly, if we don’t get it, we move on to something else. It’s one of the reasons we’re seeing such growth in shadow IT in businesses – users either aren’t getting the tools they need or, too often, they are having poor experiences using the tools they’re given, including finding them too complicated.
In an age of personalization and customization it should be easy for users to determine how they want to use technology, not the other way around. Solutions that are rigid and inflexible aren’t going to have a long lifespan, nor will the businesses that try to adopt them.
What, exactly, does that mean for your applications and services? Zach Horn and Ken Adams from NetSapiens (News - Alert) recently discussed Usability: what it means, how it is defined within the context of an organization, how it can drive business value and how to increase usability.
The bottom line at which they arrived is that, in order to achieve positive ROI on your investments, you need to ensure adoption, which means you have to understand the concept of usability and how to build it into your decision making, implementation and user education.
To hear more about their thoughts on usability from a provider and a user perspective, listen to the on-demand Webinar, “Usability: the Difference Between a Loyal and a Frustrated End User.” No doubt you want your users to be the loyal ones.
Edited by Alicia Young