Enterprise systems were conventionally aimed at satisfying the needs of the organization rather than its users. They fundamentally helped run business functions with a ‘Get it Done’ motto. It is only in recent times that more and more of these organizations have come to realize the untapped potential of UX in the scape of Enterprise Systems. They are charmed by delightful gifts of
- Increased productivity
- Faster processes
- Seamless data portability
- Focus on innovation
- Happier and motivated workforce
eUX is known to help and draw the right balance between the expectations of the business and the needs of the users, it helps them maximize their productivity through validated and scientific discoveries that are a part of its methodology.
A successful UX Methodology is primarily built of a detailed understanding of
1) Users and stakeholders of the business
Their demographics, potential, limitations, goals and success.
2) Nature of business and the environment it is conducted in
Devices, technology, physical location and circumstances under which the system is used.
3) Specific problems and challenges that the system intends to overcome
These could be anything from migrating from legacy systems, to reducing the number of clicks, fixing information architecture/navigation or simply scaling consistently.
Being a scientifically-driven method, a UX strategy must validate the direction it is progressing in by testing the solutions with identified users. This is where usability testing (UT) steps in. Usability testing keeps its goal in the center, different testing methods are used from within the testing landscape to check for specific insights.
We, as an eUX agency deeply value the importance of usability testing and have defined an in-house preamble which acts as a blanket rule for us and the clients to keep in mind.
- Focusing on uncovering the challenges and opportunities through observations and questions.
- Designing based on research (proven data) and science, as opposed to hunches.
- Applying the science of usability principles while keeping the business goals in mind.
- Making design decisions based on UT learnings.
Closely involved stakeholders can often be deeply influenced about what they believe is the right solution for the user, we internally refer to them as corrupt stakeholders and make sure that they stay away from the testing process. This is done strictly to avoid –
- Assuming on behalf of users
- Stakeholders acting like users instead of actually involving legit users
- Using a small sample size that is too small to arrive at a conclusion
- Asking leading questions
- Trying to design/solve during user interviews
- Relying only on what users say and ignoring what they do
- Getting attached with the current system/design and taking feedback personally
With all of that said, there is an important aspect of user testing in context of enterprise applications that draws the harsh reality of UX processes today and explains why it isn’t a default in most UX strategies that drive eUX. More and more product development teams see user testing as a block. On the other hand, UT has acceptability from business stakeholders who appreciate the insights it brings to the table. However, more often than not, one gets to hear something like ‘we don’t have enough time for this’, or a few of the reasons listed below that we too tend to hear from our more willing takers –
- Unavailability of users to test with, or defining the right user group
- Geographic locations and building a testing infrastructure
- Choosing the right methods to test with
- Sources and means to rely on for user feedback and inputs
We get it – in times where teams keep themselves on their toes to be agile, UT simply comes in like a mammoth excavation that can’t be rushed and with challenges as listed above, this it sounds more like something that could live in a book of ‘Ideal Design Practices’.
While we may not be able to draft a solution that could tailor to all, but we have shaped up practices and processes which allow us to test along the way without falling into the whole UT dig we just talked about.
Users, where are the users?
The eUX domain would often just not have users available to test with, one key point to note here is that you are not looking for the exact people that use the product. We are going to standardize them to a persona. People who belong to specific demographics, education, goals, and who perform similar functions. You might find individuals with subject matter expertise who could contribute to be your users. Just make sure that they are not the ones involved in the solutioning because that makes them biased and corrupt.
My user is in the other hemisphere
While testing for eUX apps, remote usability testing is a perfectly viable option. There are devices and apps that let you create the right kind of infrastructure you need to help the user feel just as comforted. I will be writing more about conducting remote usability testing soon but until then feel free to hunt the internet for apps and devices that could help you build your own set up.
How do we make sure that we are asking the right questions?
Using the right usability testing method, drafting tasks for users, and evaluating the right aspects of the solution is important. Fundamentally, testing is used for 2 types of validations.
Foundational testing is relevant while pondering between high-level directions and concept level directions. However once that is nailed, the Directional approach steps in and this is just as important in case of eUX apps. This makes sure that works flows are lean and usable by the users. Keep simple goals for directional checks to keep it focused.
Depending on what it is that you wish to test, you could choose between methods like AB Testing, Eye Tracking, Mouse Movement Tracking etc.
Should the user be navigated to a drill down view from the list or keep it at the same level for contextual comparison?
We ran an A/B test of 20 users, and the contextual view performed 32% better.
Are there any usability issues with the wizard here?
We conducted a usability test with 8 participants and found 4 potential issues. We recommend that you –
(1) make the progress bar more prominent
(2) allow users to duplicate item configuration while adding in bulk
(3) indicate validation errors upfront
As design and user-centric approaches make their way into your product development life cycles, do not ignore the true value of UX that comes through insights. Constant validation of the proposed solution will let you keep up with the expectations of the user and help you bring about the best out of them.
UX is a cross-functional discipline and works dynamically to give you the best value.
For a true design culture to thrive,
- Make sure you don’t mix your active solutioning and research teams together with the testing team. Allow them to focus and perform their own independent functions.
- Be open to iterating and restarting, make space for innovation and ideas driven by insights to thrive. It is in these challenging conditions that some of the best solutions are conceived.
- Good design practices are everyone’s responsibility, driving your decisions through UT insights will need all aspects of your teams to come together. Make sure the value is understood by all.
By integrating it into your process early on, your team will be able to adapt and innovate over the process to get it going for you.