Over the last few months we have been collaborating with clients on a number of exciting user experience (UX) design projects – all with the focus of solving a business issue.
Whether it’s reengineering an existing process to increase workforce efficiency, building tools which capture community insight to advocate initiatives or creating a dynamic reporting dashboard to replace cumbersome documentation, the key to designing compelling solutions which deliver real value to any organisation is UX design.
In the past – and especially in the geospatial industry – technology has largely been defined by engineers. As the complexity of technology-driven products and services has increased, the interfaces of these systems have become equally complex.
Today, with high user expectations, it’s essential to embrace a creative mindset and take a more considered and innovative approach to problem-solving.
UX design is responsible for making highly sophisticated systems work flawlessly in a user-friendly way. The process of ideation encourages design teams to push past the obvious and find smarter, more inventive solutions that resonate with users and solve common issues around user adoption, application performance and inefficient workflows.
When technology is hard to use, don’t make excuses for it. Improve it.
1. Uptake: Why aren’t they using it?
If you’re finding that your geospatial application is not being used – either as intended, or at all – you are not alone. Issues with uptake or adoption of an application are costly consequences when the user-base is not a key consideration during planning and development.
Project teams often work to requirements based on business objectives and stakeholder expectations, and when deadline and budget pressures are factored into the process, it’s understandable that users’ needs can be forgotten.
But all is not lost.
Post-deployment evaluation and testing will provide insight into specific usability barriers which cause users to abandon the application. It may be due to convoluted interface functions, poorly structured information or misunderstood terminology – but until you test, you won’t really know.
Observing users’ interactions with the application in the environment they use it will highlight pain-points; that insight should form the basis of an optimisation plan. Then you can schedule enhancements – starting with the easiest fixes to resurrect the application.
2. Performance: Is it meeting expectations?
When we set out to build an application, we do so because it fulfils a need. One of the first steps of project planning is defining objectives of the solution – what services will it provide? What task will it perform?
When you are certain about your vision for a product or service and you know what it’s supposed to do, finding effective ways to measure its success is essential. Without this insight, how can you assess if your investment was worth-while?
An important component of UX design is the systematic investigation of users and their requirements through research and analysis. Using monitoring tools to measure the performance of project goals and objectives will inform where you should focus future development. Understanding conversion rates and drop-off points highlights barriers to success.
And it’s never too late to ask your users for feedback. User testing is valuable at any stage of the application lifecycle – often simple changes can have a significant impact on maximising project investment.
3. Efficiency: How can we make it easier?
Being part of the digital age means we have so many opportunities to increase efficiency by enhancing processes online.
We know that the goal of UX design is to simplify and refine for the user – so it’s a logical step to apply user-centred thinking when undertaking the challenge to make an application process or workflow easier.
Mapping out user flows is essential for several reasons. First, it enables you to visualise and carefully think through your application’s design before you enter the development phase, when revisions and changes are more costly and time-consuming to implement. Second – and most importantly – mapping out user flows helps you identify how to complete each task or goal with the least amount of friction. And, as we all know, the smooth and intuitive experience is the holy grail of UX.
About the author
UXG Project Manager