More Than Just a Pretty Face

More Than Just a Pretty Face

Information is everywhere. It bombards us in every way possible, clamoring for our attention. While technology is often at the root

of the over-abundance of information, it also facilitates the aggregation of information, providing many opportunities to interact with end-users without overwhelming them. Doing so requires providing end-users with a satisfactory user experience through a user interface to which they can relate.

Learning management systems and other enterprise-level software increase functionalities as the market evolves. Smart user interface design simplifies software, allowing end-users to find information they need, when they need it, and how they need to use it with just a few clicks.

When a system is easy to use, it leads to quicker and stronger adoption rates, ultimately leading to a strong return on investment for clients.

Providing a good user experience means putting the priority on the end-user: the client. It means understanding how clients are using the software, how they are interacting with it, and what they want to do with it. It is beyond making the system easy to use; we must acknowledge that there are three factors in creating an effective user interface: the user, the system and the context of use.

For example, users accessing a learning management system from a mobile device might require the ability to complete learning offline; a restriction not typically necessary for desktop access. A satisfactory user experience will offer the user the option to work on or offline, inform the user in which mode they are working, and seamlessly make the change.

It’s no easy feat to keep up with the constantly changing needs of the end-user and the industry. It means continuallyinvestigating new design standards, testing, creating test stories, inviting participants and analyzing data, all the while understanding that what appeals to some might not appeal to all. When developing a user interface, we must step back and really gather the whole picture, then assess the smallest details and possible situations and then step back again.

As we understand more and more that user experience is very subjective — about an individual’s performance, feelings and thoughts about a system — experience-based methods of desig are becoming increasingly prominent. Experience-based systems are intuitive, logical and ensure that users only see what’s important while still performing all required tasks.

Systems today are often built around users themselves, driving the competition for easy to use enterprise systems. Software that simplifies the user experience makes information quick and easy to access and interactions with technology not only tolerable, but pleasant; these products lead the market. Is your enterprise software more than just a pretty face?

—The author, Michael Skinner, is the general manager at OpenText Learning Solutions, formerly president and CEO of Operitel Corporation (mskinner@opentext.com). Operitel is the creator of LearnFlex, an award-winning learning management system. OpenText delivers LearnFlex to provide organizations with a streamlined and user-friendly experience for learning management processes to improve organizational results. For more information, visit www.learnflex.com.

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