When shopping for enterprise-grade software and applications, it is easy to become solely focused on the functionality of each option, without considering the all-important user experience. What is this elusive creature, and how could it possibly be important when selecting business software? Here are some of the most common misconceptions about design and user experience, along with the truth of the matter.
1. UI and UX are the Same Things
Software developers and vendors often use the terms "UI" (user interface) and UX interchangeably. Usually, these terms are used to mean the interface of the software, in other words, the screens, fields to be entered, buttons to click, colors, fonts, etc. This is what user interface means, but user experience is different. It refers to the UI, plus all of the other factors that play into how well the user actually enjoys using the software. For example, UI would only refer to the colors on the screen of the interface, while the other term would be used to mean how the user might feel after spending eight hours staring at and working with those screen colors.
2. "Pretty" Designs Aren't Important
Another misconception is that "serious" business software has no cause to be visually attractive. Why is this wrong? Whether or not users enjoy the software they use plays a huge role in how well they enjoy doing their job overall. In turn, job enjoyment plays a significant part in how well a business is able to retain their employees and keep morale high. The bottom line is, businesses that want to attract and keep the best workers will invest in software that provides a pleasant experience so that their workers are happy and stick around.
3. When It Comes to Enterprise Software, UX Isn't an Issue
How easy is it to log onto the system? How quickly can a user find what they are looking for in the options menu? Are the steps it takes to do the common functions easy and do those steps take natural movements of the hands and fingers into account? Why is all of this even important? In addition to the actual design of the interface, these are the factors that make up the experience, and the answers to each of these questions will help determine how quickly work gets done, how much work can get done in a shift, and even how many users will require time off or medical attention for repetitive injuries to the wrists, hands, and fingers. It is a significant factor in all software, not just that for personal use.
4. UX is Something Only the Designers Need to Worry About
This final misconception is common among both development companies and their customers. Is it important to choose a product from a software vendor that takes a holistic approach to user experience from the initial phase of conception, through design and development, and into production and distribution? Simply put, yes. It is not something that only the designers need worry about. Every aspect of using the software affects it, either positively or negatively. Hence, choosing a software vendor that provides a positive experience from beginning to end assures that the buyer ends up with a product that their employees actually enjoy working with.