Among the many quotable things that Steve Jobs said is one that rings true at Workplace: You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.
Is this as important in the business-to-business market as it is in the consumer market that Apple serve so successfully? It’s arguably more important in my opinion, as high adoption and usage rates of software applications are critical in order for businesses to derive maximum value from their investment. The user experience, or UX, must enable users to get to their end goals as efficiently as possible, and with minimum investment in training.
Have you ever felt frustrated or disengaged from timesheet, holiday tracking or other business productivity software due to the effort it takes to use it, and left questioning just how much the company is gaining?
As part of our customer research, we’ve heard first hand from managers who have gone back to producing work schedules on excel or pen and paper, such is their frustration with clunky, confusing applications which fail to delight.
We understand this at Workplace, and are bringing end users into the heart of our product development lifecycle, and working with them to create highly compelling user experiences. We encourage our product team members to get out of the building and speak to prospective end users. Starting with informal customer research to begin to understand basic needs and pain points, more detailed interviews follow to allow us to define a range of different personas, from tech-savvy ‘Millennials’ who expect anytime access to workplace applications to smartphone newbies coming to terms with changes within the workplace environment. We involve users in sketching workshops and gather feedback on wireframes and mockups, and find users more open to tear ideas apart than if we presented them with graphic rich visual designs which appear more complete.
The result? A better user experience, with lower cost rollout and higher adoption rates. There are other gains for us too, getting more feedback on throwaway sketches and prototypes means less rework and better efficiency in product development. It’s also more fun for engineers to hear feedback directly from the people who will use the products they build, and our experience is that users enjoy shaping the future of apps they’ll use in their everyday work and see them come to life. All in, this approach helps us build great products, delight our customers and achieve successful business outcomes.
Steve Jobs knew all this instinctively, of course. His philosophy of great user experience is one of the main reasons why the iPhone defined the smartphone era and set the standard for customer responsiveness and usability.