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Written By:
Ceara Crawshaw
User manual entitled 'How to Use - Vol. 6'

Introduction

We all know that building enterprise software is hard – building excellent user experience into your enterprise product is even harder. As high-tech industries push the powers of computation ever further, the bar for user experience continues to rise so that, even as systems become more and more complex, interfaces can remain simple and delightful to use. (We do this all the time check out what we do with enterprise software UX design)

As you scan the horizon, looking at where your industry is going, often you can see the need for your product to level up. It’s an exciting position to be in: creating the future of technology. If you can hit that right level of powerful features and excellent user experience – your product can thrive and beat out the competition…or maybe even invent something entirely new. 

Signs it’s time for a UX redesign 

When we’re building software, it often seems like the second it starts to feel stable is the second is the second the technology becomes obsolete. Given the rapid pace tech is advancing, this represents an inevitable part of running a software business.

Here are a few signs that it might be time to redesign your software’s user experience.

Your software isn’t keeping up with workflow changes

Your user’s workflow has changed from when you built it initially. Lots of b2b software is being created in the context of novel technologies – to this end, workflows are destined to change for users, along with their overall ‘software stack’. Are you keeping up with these workflow changes? If you aren’t, will your competitor?

Lack of functionality prevents new users from joining

Maybe your older customers are grandfathered in and will put up with some work-arounds, but are new users being prevented from achieving their core goals with your product (even though you should be a good fit for them)? This situation could prevent you from growing into a new vertical or could hold you back from the business you want to be.

User want to do things faster and easier, but can’t

When your customers work from within your product, they often want to optimize their process. There’s no reason your users should have to tolerate unnecessary navigation or repetitive actions when you can easily fix these things with better structures and more efficient interactions.

More training and re-training than you expect

If you find yourself having to re-train users on your product multiple times, there’s a strong chance it may be unnecessarily complex. perhaps the software maps to the original version of your data model and not to how users think. Simplification comes through good ux design and is very fixable.

Support tickets are higher than they could be

Whether extra support tickets stem from usability and performance issues or loading times and outdated code, servicing unnecessary support tickets costs companies a lot of money. Not only that, but in specialized industries, sourcing good quality support people (who have domain or technical expertise) is very difficult. Great support people are a rare breed. Usability issues like the ones found in support tickets represent low hanging fruit during a ux redesign process, so the ROI for a redesign might be a pretty straight forward calculation. 

Users are working across more devices (and software) 

Users may be working across multiple devices that you didn’t account for in the past, including small screen sizes (like for tablets or phones) – these other devices might represent opportunities to optimize their workflow as well. For example, users may only use their devices in specific situations and it may take them much longer to achieve their goal on a tablet or phone. Perhaps there are other ux patterns that could be incorporated to help users achieve their goals.

Your customers may also need more integrations with other APIs or software that may require heavy backend changes or front end workflow considerations – these changes require ux design thought (regarding flow and display of information). When integrations get tacked on incrementally, you’ll notice some sure fire signs of ‘ux weirdness’ which can be eliminated through good ux design. 

Your brand isn’t resonating

Although ux design isn’t brand design, these two things often come up at similar points when your business is growing. If your brand message isn’t resonating or your brand lacks clarity to the point where customers might mix up your company brand and product brand, or might mistake you for your competitor, this is a sign it might be time to revisit. Perhaps this is because, since launching originally, your company, product and customers have evolved, but your brand hasn’t caught up to the changes. 

(It can work really well to run branding initiatives around the same time as your UX revamp because things like tone, value and how you want to ‘treat’ your users are important things to align across the entire experience of your company.)

Tech debt is undermining development 

We asked a group of developers what they think are the best indicators of needing to rebuild, and redesign an existing product, they had some key points worth highlighting. 

  • The stack you’re using is no longer maintained by the creators 
  • Older technology is posing a security risk (that represents a serious liability to your company)
  • Older tech stack is requiring more effort to build and maintain features than it should (Does the math make sense to keep the older technology given the added development effort required?) 
  • Your tech is holding you back from growth (you can’t stay competitive because everything is taking too long, or specific customers can’t adopt your product)
  • Developers are leaving because they don’t want to work on old tech (is it worth losing ambitious people to keep your old design around?)

 

Conclusion 

Every company needs to weigh the pros and cons of UX redesign and develop their own case for levelling up their user experience. We hope that these prompts prove useful in thinking through the timing and business case you need to go forward. 

The key to using these prompts is being able to assign a value to them. Most companies, for example, have more support tickets than they would want, but when you look at the costs as well as the opportunities, you may find that it’s time to invest. You may also find that the costs of not improving your user experience is acceptable given your current position (and it very well could be!).

All businesses and brands in tech have an aim to remain relevant and competitive and obviously, no one wants to become the next Blockbuster. For many companies, especially in the FinTech and BioTech industry, user experience can be the key differentiator when it comes to wowing the right people during a sales process and keeping users satisfied long term.

What’s the first step to improving the overall usability of your features?

If you’ve been struggling to implement complex enterprise features that your users find intuitive to use, we have put together a course (UX Skills for Developers) that will help improve your implementation and overall usability.

If we’ve missed anything, please let us know, like you, we’re interested in continuous improvement so please reach out to us

For many companies, especially in the FinTech and BioTech industry, user experience can be the key differentiator when it comes to wowing the right people during a sales process, and keeping users satisfied long term.

Ceara CrawshawFounder of Pencil & Paper