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Friday, 9 April 2010

Usability and integration

Thomas Otter from Gartner recently made some great points about what really matters in delivering business applications – not just building good looking UI, but also focussing on the details of usability when things go wrong.

As Thomas points out, helping users with error handling and providing appropriate validation are frequently poor relations of application delivery. Another common symptom of this lack of user-centricity is forcing users to step outside an application to access additional data and transactions. When this happens, the number of things that can go wrong is multiplied and the user is again typically forced to cope for themselves.

Getting these points right at the desktop makes hard commercial sense for organisations such as contact centres. In my experience looking at desktop processes, they nearly always exhibit significant problems and opportunities for improvement, some of which can be addressed through tactical fixes, others of which require the creation of a simplified, seamless desktop that masks the underlying complexity. Acting on these opportunities can deliver a significant impact on productivity and “right first time” performance, as well as agent satisfaction and training times.

However, Thomas’ comment also carries a reminder for any integration of applications on the desktop. These solutions should be subject to the same test that he suggests – “tell me what happens when things stray from the happy path” - to make sure new usability problems aren’t being created where old ones are being removed. Worth bearing in mind when implementing integration of this kind.

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