In a conversation about user interfaces the other day, we were reminded of the old saying, typically attributed to an unnamed doctor: “The operation was a success. But the patient died.”
We’re not equating software developers to doctors by any stretch. But it does occur to us that the best software (by any criteria) could give the effect of being DOA if it had an ineffective (by any criteria) user interface.
And there’s another important thing to consider.
Age Isn’t Just a Number
To those of us who aren’t getting any older, this may not seem like a big deal. But it would seem that users of software are getting younger. For the insurance industry, that means agents, CSRs, policyholders, claims adjusters, TPAs, and others that need access to our systems are already accustomed to newer, more intuitive, and very user-friendly technology. To them, legacy interfaces feel like trying to perform surgery with a dull butter knife.
That suggests that — aside from aesthetic appeal and clean simplicity — user interfaces should be:
- Easy to use. The easier they are to use, the more work will be accomplished.
- If users of interfaces can manipulate them to do what they need them to do, the way they want to do it, they’ll be more motivated and efficient, as well as more productive.
- Whether it’s driving tasks in the workflow, completing routine tasks, escalating exceptions, or myriad other activities, automation enables people to spend less time engaged in mundane repetition and more time engaged in more strategic contributions to their organizations.
And there’s yet one more thing to consider.
The Who might have been singing about an entirely different kind of mobility in 1971, but they were on the right track (so to speak). Interfaces that aren’t optimized for and responsive to mobile devices and their designs will be used less frequently. It’s as simple as that. And if your interfaces aren’t going mobile, your expectations should be lower because the number of users certainly will be.
If your constituents can’t access your systems on their smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices to get updates, conduct transactions, and communicate with the requisite parties, they’ll work with someone else whose systems allow them to do all those things.
If we’re smart, we’ll be all up in their interfaces.