In the past, a tech purchase was considered a smart buy if it enabled people to do things faster, but in the age of consumerism, speed (albeit still critical) has taken a backseat to the growing demand for tech items that feature a well-designed user experience (UX). According to a recent podcast that explored 2017’s top 10 strategic technology trends, UX is the key variable driving employee engagement of new tech. Despite the variety of trends listed, all had one thing in common: the tech must be easy-to-use. To help you increase engagement and adoption at your workplace, we’ve assembled a helpful checklist of UX ideals to consider before and after you buy tech.
# 1: Keep It Simple
There is a genius to simplicity. People enjoy solutions that solve an issue or empower them to accomplish something in the simplest way possible. When shopping for tech solutions, simplicity in both design and operation should be at the top of your UX ideals list. According to Chris Steele, Vice President of software development company, Saggezza, “Complex or ill-thought-out user journeys simply alienate people. The result is slow adoption, arduous training, slower ROI and occasionally even wasted investment. If users can’t gain quick mastery of how technology works, how it can change their lives and their jobs, and how the enterprise can make leaps and bounds forward in the never-ceasing drive for enhanced competitive edge, then the technology is just so many bells and whistles.” Tim Bajarin, a technology analyst states that equipping people “with the tools to make them successful in their productivity is the No. 1 IT project in any company.” However, not all tools are helpful, and some are so complex and cumbersome to use, that they are actually hurtful to productivity.
#2: Put Tech to the Test
Regardless of the size of a tech investment, if a tool or program is not suitable for the majority of users in your company, it’s simply not worth maintaining or keeping around. In a climate where speed of innovation is often the difference between an organization’s success or failure, it’s better to take a loss on complicated or outdated tech, than to allow it to sandbag productivity.
To assess whether a tech solution is worth it, Steve Krug, a usability consultant and author of Don’t Make Me Think, recommends conducting user trials before you buy. For best results, assemble a variety of users across your organization, who are willing to participate in tech trials and provide “customer” feedback. A few key questions to ask include:
- Did this tech make it easier to do your job, or did it add more steps to your process?
- Would you use this tech if you were under time constraints?
- Would you recommend this tech to a colleague?
#3: Schedule Ongoing Tech Checks
Like fashion, tech can go from hot to not rather quickly. To ensure you’re not holding employees back by insisting they continue to use tech that’s past its prime, the third item on your UX ideals list should be to conduct regular check-ups (annual or semi-annual) of all in-house tech, from apps and devices to programs, platforms, tools and more. User surveys offer a quick and painless way to solicit valuable feedback across your company and find out which tech is still working and which is causing more problems than it’s solving.
#4: Take a ‘Less Is More’ Approach
Have a long list of features on your UX ideals list? Will Greenaway, a UX instructor, maintains that one of the primary mistakes people make in deciding to purchase technology is to assume one tech is better than another because it offers more features. It’s a classic ‘more is more’ mentality that often causes people two purchase something that is far more complex than what they need, and in the world of tech, complexity = poor adoption. Greenway says, “Extra features are nice, but they are usually [there] to satisfy business stakeholders, not the users.”
Moreover, research has shown that when you provide people with too many options, such as tech with an overwhelming number of features, it decreases efficiency, impedes productivity, and actually makes people unhappy. Unfortunately, a workplace in which people feel overwhelmed by the tech they are provided with will ultimately impact morale, and cost employers far more than their ‘feature-rich’ tech is worth.
#5: Side-Step the Top Three Tech Purchasing Mistakes
According to Greenway, the three primary mistakes people make with regards to tech are:
- Silo Buys — Choosing tech according to a primary buyer’s tastes, goals, and preferences, which may be very different from what users want and need
- Forgetting Feedback — Failing to observe or check in with tech users; failure to take into account all user feedback
- Feature Blindness – Becoming so enamored with a laundry list of features that UX gets sidelined
#6: Give yourself a Highfive
Over the last decade, technology has seen the advent of countless solutions, but the ones that have emerged from the pack to become invaluable tools are the ones that give UX the same careful consideration as the problems they were created to solve. For example, unlike complex legacy systems, Highfive all-in-one, video conferencing devices feature a sleek, lightweight design that enables them to work in a variety of settings, from boardrooms and meeting rooms, to huddle spaces, pods and more. In addition, Highfives are usable right out of the box, and feature built-in HD video and audio, which means anyone, anywhere can enjoy a high-quality video call anytime they wish. If you’re in the market for well-designed tech that equips employees with a UX that is ridiculously simple and effortlessly adoptable, it’s time you gave everyone a Highfive!