How Software Can Be Improved With User Centred Design

Whether it’s internal software within your organisation, an app you’ve developed for Android, or even an interactive website, every piece of software that requires user interaction can benefit from user centred design.

User centred design, otherwise known as UX or User Experience, is how Apple managed to build a trillion dollar empire, off the back of devices that are attractive, intuitive, simple, and instantly appealing. Knowing what appeals to your user can pay dividends.

How can I tell if my software is user friendly and appealing?

Unsolicited spoken or written feedback

Have you received emails regarding your software with complaints about usability? Are you getting 3 star reviews on the app store? Perhaps you’ve overheard a conversation in the office that wasn’t so flattering about your systems? If you are receiving unsolicited negative feedback about user friendliness, you can be sure that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

User feedback via automatic prompting

There are various ways to prompt your users to ask about the user friendliness of your software. This may be via email (rate the software by stars out of 5), SMS, or simply a web form. Using automatic prompting systems can help you to gain insight quickly and easily, even if a majority of users may not respond.

Interviews with users

There’s no better way to get feedback on your software than via in-depth interviews, whether they’re in person, via forms, or on the phone. You may need to offer incentives to obtain interviews - people’s time is precious, after all.

Amount of training people usually need before they can use your software

Does your software come with a lengthy manual, YouTube tutorials, or an extensive FAQ? This may be an indication that your software isn’t intuitive enough; that it feels too unfamiliar to the user. While a large knowledge-base may be required for complex software, picking up the basics of your application should be simple.

Software uptake vs ongoing use statistics

If your software is a commercial product, you should have systems in place to measure how many people have trialled your software, purchased your software, how many active users you have, the length of time a user has been a customer, etc. If it’s a website, you can track traffic and bounce rates. For internal software, you can see how many employees are still using old systems you had in place before the software rollout. These can all be an indication of user friendliness.

How to improve the UX of your software

User experience is, at its core, knowing your users well. While software that looks and feels similar to Snapchat may be great for Maddie who’s just started uni and works at Claire’s, it’s going to confound Greg, who’s a new grandparent and planning his retirement. You need to design your software with your ideal user/s in mind.

If you don’t already have your ideal users (aka buyer personas) in mind, you can check out this guide on Hubspot. Once you have this nailed down, you can focus specifically on your UX elements for your personas.

If it’s software for the workplace, you’ll have a diverse user base, in which case, you should look to software that everyone knows for direction (e.g. MS Word, Facebook, BBC News).

Key UX elements

The elements that make up your overall user experience include:

  • Innate familiarity
  • Stylisation
  • Learning curve
  • Ease of use
  • Workflow complexity
  • Presentation of elements

By focusing on improving these areas, targeted specifically to your user persona, you’ll increase your software’s user friendliness.

Assess the competition

What are your competition doing with their software that you can adopt in your own? “Steal” their best ideas, make sure you note their worst elements so you can avoid them!

Listen to your users

If you are using the feedback techniques we mentioned above, you’ll gain insights into how your software can be improved. Pay close attention to gripes about design and workflows and incorporate user suggestions if applicable and implementable.

Think like a graphic designer

There are certain things that appeal to the eye that graphic designers are aware of. Use of colour schemes, patterns, tones, spacing, number and type of elements in a design, busy-ness, focal points… Flip through a magazine, watch some ads on TV, and pay attention to retail design while you’re out and about. Becoming aware of design and associated appeal in all parts of life can help give you a greater design perspective when looking over your own software.

Need help with user centred design?

As a collective, over here at CodeFirst we’re experienced in helping our clients build beautiful software that users enjoy interacting with, whether it’s your in-house software solution, an app that you’re still honing to perfection, or a website refresh. If you’d like your users to enjoy using your software more, then make sure to reach out.