How User Experience Design has become key in your IT strategy

Posted by Jonathan Travers

After getting a new phone last year, I gave my old one to my grandmother. My grandmother was 83 at the time, but still very vibrant and healthy. She had been wanting a smartphone for some time, after already using an iPad for about four years. She plays "Word Feud" avidly and invites the family to gatherings by email. But in her mind, she needed WhatsApp as well as to get the latest holiday pictures and stay on top of what her grandchildren were doing. Facebook wasn't enough anymore.

 

At the time, I was hesitant. Would she know how to work it? I need not have worried. Now a year later, she is the first to send me a WhatsApp message filled with emoticons! The user experience of the iPhone is completely intuitive to her.

 

When talking to colleagues and customers below the age of 35, I hear most of them talk about their user experience with IT in terms of how intuitive an app is. It should be simple, should show you only what you need. Simply put, it should be user designed. Why am I specifically mentioning those below 35? Besides being popularly called 'millennials', this age group has grown up with IT. They've played computer games, had to use a computer in school and consumed most of their knowledge by searching online. While they may lack experience in certain areas, they are still the generation entering the workforce in the largest numbers. If you're keen to attract or retain them, having an application landscape that fits their desires and needs is of importance.

 

From Function to Human Behaviour

Nowadays we see design in several industries moving from 'form follows function', to 'form follows human behavior' (reference: https://uxdesign.cc/how-is-form-follows-function-to-21st-century-design-335737a73305). With Don Norman joining Apple in the early '90's, he became the founder of the school of thought around human design. His principles described in the book 'The Design of Everyday Things' (Norman, 2013), have found ground in much of what is now UX design in IT (see https://medium.com/@sachinrekhi/don-normans-principles-of-interaction-design-51025a2c0f33).

 

'Form follows function' was the 20th century idea that every form (especially in architecture) had to follow the function of the object itself, its intention. This led to very pragmatic but process-oriented set of design choices. In the Amsterdam neighborhood of the "Bijlmer", one can see the impact of these design choices. The buildings have been designed clearly with form over function in mind.

Large flats with corridors and alleys that all have a function. What they didn't take into account, is that dark alleys and corners have the tendency to draw in youth that loiter and give an unsafe feeling to the people living there. The human element had not been central to its design. In software one can see the same thing. 

 

One can argue that not necessarily always the software with the most functionality or the best functional fit is chosen by companies. If one wants to make sure that software is used happily and efficiently, the functional sub-optimal solution might be a better solution. Companies especially have their first stages of digital transformation, adopting the first automation and software, not always choosing a human centered approach. If users in every aspect of their lives experience more human centered interactions, won't they also request this in their office related applications? Will they be able to learn the old ways of calling an application within an ERP, having only experience with an application steering them like they're used to on an iPhone? Very quickly, what seemed like a differentiator (process-wise), could become a detractor of personnel and one is less able to train new personnel in these applications.

 

 

JD Edwards UX One

By focusing on the user interaction with Oracle JD Edwards, the productivity of those users is likely to improve. This has significant benefits after upgrading. JD Edwards has taken the direction since late 2016 of a conscious design choice to focus on human interaction, rather than just on functionality. Mind you, while the platform is available, it is up to you to define it. Sit together with your users to improve it step by step, or allow them to do it themselves. But the user interaction should be unique to their role and set-up. UX One allows the company and its employees to focus on two core principles:

    Simplify

    Let the application work for you

 

Simplify

UX One allows the company to define user-based objects and designs. In theory, every user could have an entirely different user experience. Most often, and advised, one would define this per role to allow users to recognize each other’s screens. It would allow a user to see only the data, buttons and applications relevant to him or her. This no longer requires a lot of technical know-how, every user can do this. One can therefore remove complexity and focus the user on what is most important in his or her task. By constraining users in choice and diverting attention to what is most critical, one is likely to become more effective and less user induced incidents are expected.

 

Let the application work for you

Simplifying screens is just step one. While personalizing pages, a user only wants to see what he or she needs to work on. It is critical to have reports and notifications directing you to what work you need to do, in what order. Therefore, the newest application releases of JD Edwards focus on Alert Analyze Act. Notifications alert the user of pending actions; one can quickly create overviews or have a seamless integration of BI applications such as Tableau or Oracle BI; and one can create buttons directly on screen to the application or work order that needs action.

 

By upgrading to 9.2, you open the doors in your company to a paradigm shift in the user experience of your application. Interested in how to upgrade? Contact your RFI partner to get to know more. 

 

 Original blog by Mark Kamphius



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