We fully admit that here at Hyper Modern Media, we make a lot of money off the fact that many business tools are difficult to use and don’t offer the in-depth resources a business owner needs to use them effectively.
But we’d prefer that not to be the case. If every piece of software was simple to use, require only the most basic built-in prompts to entirely automate everything you have to deal with as a business owner, we’d throw a party. It probably wouldn’t put us out of business, but even if it did, we wouldn’t worry about it. After all, it would be that much easier for us to start a new business.
Ease of Use is Crucial…
From the point of view of any business owner, time is one of the most precious commodities we have. The more time we have to sink into trying to get a tool to do exactly what we want it to do, the less time we have to build our businesses, work with clients, create new products and so on.
In theory, software and other business tools are supposed to be time savers. Certainly that’s one of the selling points many companies base their marketing materials on. I’ll admit that even some of the most complicated accounting software packages (Quickbooks, I’m looking at you) save time over the alternative of keeping a ledger by hand. It’s still difficult to do exactly what you want, though not nearly impossible. But the technology is out there to do even better and with a growing number of slick web apps, ease of use is going to become required by any savvy business owner.
That’s progress: we use tools today that make our businesses a million times easier to operate than those of our grandparents. But we can reasonably expect that down the line, our tools should save us even more time. We’re already seeing a few steps in that direction with the development of web apps by teams that include user experience specialists at some point.
…And It’s Good Business
Personally, I’ve done stints reviewing all sorts of things. I’ve done business web apps, kitchen appliances and all sorts of other things at various points in the past. I learned early on that I needed to be able to spend only a little time on testing new products if I wanted to be able to get all my work done. That means that positive reviews are far more likely to go to products that are easy to use, no matter whether they actually perform the required function well.
In general, software developers are going to find a lot more users if they bring in experts on user experience design at the beginning of the development process. Those users will stick with their tools for much longer, too, improving the value of an individual user. It simply makes sense from a business standpoint, even if the initial development costs will be higher.
Image by Flickr user Ming Xia