Business users get a raw deal from the user experiences provided by business software. I doubt that’s a very controversial statement, after all we all get a far better and richer experience from the apps we use for our personal lives or websites we visit for personal use such as holiday booking or internet shopping. They are so much easier to use – and prettier too! So why don’t developers of business software simply take a well-turned-out leaf from the design books of those writing for personal software sites or personal apps? It’s not rocket science, why can’t the tools we use in the office be as slick and sassy as the little apps populating our smartphones?
Well, perhaps there are different problems to face. Maybe we need to judge the success and efficacy of each domain by different criteria. Eoin Kirwan, VP of Product Management at FINEOS certainly thinks so. In a thoughtful new article by Eoin, part of the ‘FINEOS Perspective’ series, he investigates the issues surrounding the design and use of both types of system and challenges some of the conventionally accepted wisdom that the user experience in the business domain has fallen hopelessly behind its rival in the personal computing world.
It’s probably true for most of us that we have access to more computing power at home than we do at our work desks – unless you’re working for some highly secret government agency, in which case you’ve probably already read this blog before I published it, oh and would you mind reminding me of my Facebook password? I seem to have forgotten it. This is fairly sudden volte-face from only a few years ago when even if we only had dumb terminals or huge, clunky PCs on our desks it was still far more than we could access for personal use.
The explosion in personal computing has shown us just how easy it is to use computer applications when we are not experts, but as Eoin shows in his article, personal computing apps live in an entirely different environment and their designers face different challenges to those creating complex business applications. Not that he lets business designers off the hook; but he defines the environment in which they work such that we can have a better way of evaluating good design wherever we experience it.
Graham Newman, Product Marketing Manager, FINEOS