If you are on the road to modernize your app’s UX, you’ve probably already experienced a painful hit in revenue, productivity, or sales. You realize the consequences of prolonging the bad state of affairs will hurt the business even more. If you had already tried improving your digital product, the question you're probably asking yourself is how to not make things worse this time. In other words, how to avoid jeopardizing the potential that usability modernization can have on your product. After all, as much as your enterprise system is complex and issues probably cover a variety of specialized domains, no one wants to sink their money in a failed IT project.
Table of contents:
- What could have gone wrong?
- Diagnosing problems with UX: tools and techniques
- How to solve UX issues (and where are user problems coming from)?
- From awareness to action: common challenges
- Lessons learned: avoiding the gravest business sins causing core problems with UX
There is no one formula to improve the user experience of your enterprise platform – just as there is no one way to treat a patient who’s in severe pain. But surely there are horrible ways to do both. That’s why you (or your outsourcing partner) need to have a solid overview of what you’re dealing with to actually proceed with the changes pain-free.
So, first of all, before you decide what to alter your application or website, make sure your teams have a good understanding of what could’ve gone awry before and what you can really do about it now.
UX can go sideways on all the user touch points of your app and far beyond that. Be it layout, it-takes-forever loading, or the backend deficiencies that return bugs, your users may receive a variety of signals that the platform is in poor health.
While it may be hard to detect and connect all these dots at first, usability problems can demonstrate themselves across the broad areas of Product Design, code, performance, architectural setup and Quality Assurance.
At the same time, UX problems are exacerbated due to sins that companies sometimes make, such as: tech-driven development, lack of user research and testing, short-term thinking or overreliance on internal teams that lack the UX expertise. This means that organizations considering UX modernization need to look at their systems holistically. To prove our point, let’s refer to a true user experience improvement case where the client sought an effective solution in the UX-tech modernization process.
The above customer story shows how an in-depth overview of the status quo allows companies to stretch their usability muscle by adopting a comprehensive approach to UX modernization. So, what tools can you use to successfully modernize your app?
Now that you know how impactful user experience is, you might be wondering how to employ UX modernization for the best business results. Not so fast, though. The key to effective treatment is the right diagnosis, which in your case consists of UX and tech-oriented analyses.
UX analysis: finding flaws in user experience
Depending on the software in question and the organization’s business goals, the UX research toolkit can include a variety of techniques that fall into the following categories: business-oriented examination, quantitative, and qualitative usability analyses. Below, we introduce the methodologies that will benefit you the most in the process of establishing a software modernization path.
- Business-oriented analysis
Business analysis is key not only in product development from scratch but also in software modernization. As defined by BABOK® Guide, it’s “the practice of enabling change in an organizational context, by defining needs and recommending solutions that deliver value to stakeholders”.
Placing business analysis in the context of UX modernization, you’d like to pay special attention to stakeholder mapping. The first step here is to identify all parties engaged in and affected by the software revamp, which can be board members, managers, as well as internal and external users of your app. Then, you define their power and interest in the modernization process, which informs your communication and management style.
An example of a table showing power, interest, and attitude of stakeholders.
Finally, you question stakeholders about requirements, objectives, and pain points. Ideally, you’d want to match this stage of stakeholder mapping with the analysis of both functional and non-functional requirements. It’s a product-oriented step that gives you insight into the capabilities and conditions needed to solve problems and achieve a goal.
The analysis of both stakeholders and requirements can take place during a pre-development workshop. From our experience, workshops provide a space for a creative clash of two perspectives: yours, which is all about domain knowledge and business goals, and that of IT experts, which focuses on finding the most relevant and durable solutions.
Overall, conducting business analysis leads to setting boundaries for UX research and subsequent modernization and ensures our improvement plans are viable.
- Quantitative usability analysis
Another vital component of UX research in software modernization is quantitative analysis, which deals with the “what”. It provides you with numerical data on things like the composition of your audience, their user path, time to complete certain tasks or their responses to different elements of the interface. As it usually examines a larger sample of users, quantitative analysis shows you a big picture of your system’s usability issues. At the same time, however, “it is limited in its scope since we can only get one layer of information, facts, and perspective”. As mentioned above, it’s preoccupied with the “what”, and not with the “why” – the latter is revealed by the quant research. For this reason, it’s crucial to match quantitative and qualitative research methods when looking for UX flaws.
One of the most common quant research techniques in UX modernization is app analytics with tools like Google Analytics. It allows you to monitor the system’s performance and identify problems within the user flow. Some UX issues that app analytics can detect are confusing navigation that shows in users moving back and forth between pages or lack of device-layout match that can manifest in a sudden drop in the number of mobile users.
Another popular quantitative research tool are surveys. As opposed to app analytics, it’s an attitudinal method. The advantage of questionnaires is that they can be used in a variety of contexts, both live and online. It is, however, important to structure them in a way that yields best insights.
- Qualitative usability analysis
Last but not least comes qualitative analysis, which informs us about the “why” and “how” of the UX problems. This type of research delivers “observational findings that identify design features easy or hard to use” and allows researchers to dig deeper into the reasons for the state of events uncovered by the quantitative methodologies.
As indicated by definition mentioned above, one of the tenets of qualitative research is observation, which can take many forms depending on which type of usability tests you decide to run. In the case of the moderated tests, researchers observe users following the test scenario. The observation can take place in a laboratory or online with the use of videoconferencing and screen-sharing tools. As users complete – or struggle to complete – predefined tasks, you can find out if there are any loopholes in your system’s user flows.
As far as the level of supervision is concerned, unmoderated tests are the opposite. In their case, researchers observe the most natural behaviors of the users who are asked to explore the application without following any script. Popular tools for conducting such tests are Loop11 or User Zoom.
Running usability tests on a legacy system is unique in that it gives researchers access to real users, thus eliminating the dilemma of whether they’ve selected a representative sample or not.
Involving long-term clients in the usability improvement process often makes them feel engaged and appreciated, thus leading to stronger business relations.
The second pillar of qual analysis are interviews, during which you get to ask modernization stakeholders, especially the end-users, about their opinions concerning the soon-to-be-revamped system. Although sometimes biased or exaggerated, such testimonies are an invaluable source of knowledge – particularly when obtained during a one-on-one session, which minimizes the risk of the interviewees feeling intimidated or reluctant to share their ideas. Not to mention that end-users often have unique insights that wouldn’t come to minds of other stakeholders, e.g. a Product Owner.
The last popular qualitative research tool is unique in that it doesn’t call for interaction with the user. It’s heuristic evaluation and it entails “having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles or the heuristics”. In addition to diagnosing UX problems, heuristic evaluation also calls for prioritizing them – which may prove helpful in designing the UX modernization roadmap.
Tech-oriented analysis: technology assessment
More of a process than a technique or tool, software assessment is a necessary step for companies owning non-functional multi-layered digital products whose problems may exceed the domain of UX design.
Tech assessment is the way to go if you are overwhelmed by mounting software problems and anticipate extensive changes to various software segments.
It boosts your chances of providing increased product functionality to the users and supplements the UX perspective by answering the key questions about our product from the tech side:
- Is the software reliable?
- What tech issues have to be addressed?
- Does the software need modernization?
- What is the extent of the tech changes that should be applied to software?
The scope of your system’s tech assessment is determined by the current shape of your product and your organization’s business needs. At the end of this analysis, you should have a detailed overview of the system based on insights from the following areas:
- Architecture and infrastructure
An architecture and infrastructure overview is a big-picture analysis from the technical side. It allows for verifying whether the architecture and infrastructure of the application support meeting your strategic business goals. The insights that come from it help to identify the foundations and skeleton of your digital product. It’s especially useful for these platforms that have technical silos and entanglement on multiple product layers.
- Dev and QA processes
An overview of development and Quality Assurance processes shows how your product functions in an organization. It’s beneficial if your dev and QA processes have flaws and some elements are missing such as QA code coverage. For CEOs and CIOs, it’s a part of the tech assessment that reveals how the software development process works and what elements of it may need improvement.
In legacy software, you need integrations to extract the data necessary for your platforms. An integrations review shows how the integrations are utilized in the application, how critical they are for an existing solution, and how they operate. It helps software experts to assess what is expected of your integrations in terms of the product’s functioning in general.
A deployment review shows how the product is deployed to production. At this point, it’s necessary not only to establish how the deployment is done currently but also in what way it’s going to be performed onwards with regards to the whole workflow. A deployment review may be summarized in writing. Its detailed version can also be provided in the form of a deployment audit. During such an audit, experts analyze the tools you use for deployment and assess them.
- Cloud adoption
Cloud adoption analysis provides you with an overview of perspectives for migrating your system to the cloud. It’s useful, for example, if your product needs to be moved off-premise as part of a far-reaching software modernization. You can choose between infrastructure-ready, cloud-optimized, and cloud-native approaches. The selection of a specific cloud strategy will depend on your business needs and expectations.
- Technology audit
A technology audit provides you with insights about the source code, database structure, security, and infrastructure. During this process, your software experts receive documentation, code, access to platforms and infrastructure to analyze all of these and provide the final results and recommendations.
All in all, the scope of the tech assessment process depends entirely on the shape and structure of your product, but the above constitutive elements help provide insights for platforms and systems that experience problems of interdisciplinary nature. It’s worth taking a look at them before you decide on the extent of changes to your product.
There are no two identical user experience modernization cases. But based on our expertise in software projects, it’s fair to generalize that problems in multi-layer software have roots in two areas: UX and tech. Here’s our subjective list of seven common software issues.
❎ 7 top examples of UX-tech software problems
- Invisible navigation and user flow issues
- User Interface problems
- Illogical Information Architecture
- Low-quality code
- Hindered performance
- Lack of necessary cloud enablements
- Software complexity
If these common problems are so diverse, it can be challenging to solve them. Let’s take a look at some of the UX-related scenarios that can happen.
Dealing with UX design issues
Poor UX design can manifest itself in many ways, but UX case studies usually have one thing in common. Users are confused. They can be lost across the user trail. In some cases, the website content is counter-intuitive. Sometimes users have a hard time learning how to use internal custom solutions effectively. Finally, system collapses may deter actors from using the platform.
Frequently occurring symptoms of UX design problems
What all of these cases have in common is that users don’t utilize the platform the way they were originally intended to. In general, there are three basic aspects of the UX design in which users should be able to interact with the product easily. These are navigation and user flow, user interface, and Information Architecture. To show you how to solve problems related to inadequate UX design, we’ve selected a few practical examples.
- Fix the navigation and user flow
According to Nick Babich, Adobe contributor and UX expert, hidden navigation patterns (e.g., hamburger menus) can hinder users from accessing all navigation routes. As he further explains, the reason is that what is not easily visible can be forgotten and stay unused. User research and analytics will tell you if a hamburger menu is not used by your actors. If that’s the case, one of the solutions is to redesign the navigation and make it fully visible. As Babich notes, introducing a tab bar instead of a hamburger menu in one business case doubled the number of user sessions while session time spiked to 70% more.
- Declutter the User Interface (UI)
When well thought-out, User Interface facilitates a visually appealing and smooth experience for your users. While problems related to site or app visuals cover a variety of topics, we’ve chosen a few commonly experienced ones that you may come across in mutil-layer digital products.
According to Paul Boag, an Interface Design expert, overcomplicated UI design will deter users from your site and lead them to use the competition’s product. The reason he mentions is that users “will take the path of least resistance” in such cases. The solution may be to thoroughly research user needs and simplify the UI. Boag refers to the example of long and complicated password requirements on websites. But perhaps your interface also has some additional unnecessary elements that are messing it up? Considering these aspects would help you make truly informed decisions about your UI assets. After all, user actions should be intuitive.
Forms belong to the most often used interface elements. Some examples include: text fields, buttons, check and radio boxes, and dropdown menus. As such they are basic elements of a website or app, therefore users should be able to use them as seamlessly as possible. It’s like using contactless payments when shopping - you tap the credit card to the reader, enter your PIN almost automatically, and just seconds after that you’re on your way out of the shop. Unfortunately, if your forms are badly designed, the transaction with your paying customers may not go as smoothly as you’d imagine. They may fail to complete the necessary boxes, dragging down your crucial micro-conversions. Here are a few tips on how to avoid that:
✅ 7 best practices for improving your forms:
- Avoid asking users irrelevant questions. If users only want to make a regular payment, don’t tire them out asking for a phone number confirmation every time they log in to the application.
- When gathering additional user information, justify why you need the data. This will help you build trust with users and it will assist them in completing all the necessary steps on their journey.
- Apply conditional logic when possible. This will shorten your forms and simplify the UI. For example, don’t ask users for the information they already gave in previous steps.
- Use buttons with descriptions. This will leave no room for doubts and guide users throughout their journey.
- Utilize native mobile app features to your advantage. For instance, you can use geolocation to prefill some of the data in the form, so that users don’t have to do it from scratch.
- Use dynamic validation, autocorrection, and autofill functions to make the best of users’ time in forms. Allowing for the user input to be checked and corrected in real time will prove more efficient than doing so after your actors click “Next step”.
- Humanize error communications so that they tell the user what to do instead of startling them with the infamous ”Ups. Error 501”.
Badly designed data visualization
One of the issues that unnecessarily complicates the UI is poor data visualization design. It's especially true for healthcare and fintech products whose users rely on data presentation to invest in the stock market or provide effective medical treatment to people. Graphs, charts and maps are also extremely useful in other products where you need to display large amounts of data in a clear and usable way.
A variety of fintech apps rely on clear dataviz design. Source: Dribble
If your application or website utilizes statistics or other valuable information to show them to users, you need to know a few golden tips to make best use of it. Check them out below!
✅ 5 best practices for data visualization:
- Understand the data you’re presenting. Professional UX designers or business analysts can help you do that. That way, you’ll be able to show the information to a wider audience in a way that allows them to find patterns and draw conclusions.
- Prioritize statistics presentation. Charts and graphs should be consistent with what the user needs most at a specific stage of the journey.
- Test your dataviz with users. This will help you verify if the data visuals actually work for your users and support their actions in the system.
- Information first, branding second. Those who utilize your app or website visit it to find information or complete some actions. Therefore, you need to put the data to the front and make it clear and readable. In this way, you support conversions.
- Be clear and concise with your data visuals. This will leave no room for misinterpretation and misjudged decisions.
When embarking upon any new project, it’s important to start by defining the language that underpins your design, as it will shape your users’ perceptions.
Christopher Murphy. Source: Adobe
Another problem that may affect the UX of your platform is not speaking the user’s language. It’s like trying to communicate in a foreign country when you hardly know the speakers’ native tongue. In such situations, when your intentions are obscured by distorted or unclear expressions, it’s hard to achieve what you want.
That’s also what happens when you use the language that is only understandable to you, not the users. To avoid such mistakes, put yourself in the users’ shoes while upgrading the UX. Populate your interface with content that has clear meaning to them, thus supporting the user flow. Using plain language and researching your users’ needs by means of tests will help you do that.
- Boost the Information Architecture quality
Jakob Nielsen from the Nielsen Norman Group points out that in many cases, search and navigation are not integrated enough to provide users accessibility of search options. For example, if users have to wander around a website to find what they are looking for, the information structure on these sites doesn’t fulfill its goal. To prevent that, try to build a well-structured Information Architecture that supports the user flow. The important thing is that the crucial content is logically linked and intuitively displayed. You may also go for additional validation of the solution by testing it with users. In this way, you will find out if the improvements applied are satisfactory.
As much as accessibility and user flow as well as ease-of-use and proper content logic play a vital role in designing the interactions of users in your system, it’s not the whole picture just yet. Aside from UX design measures, you may also have to apply tech improvements to solve all the problems with your app.
Resolving UX problems that have tech roots
There is a wide range of tech aspects that can undermine your product and the experience of your users. From code, through performance, QA, and lack of truly required cloud enablements, your solution’s success may require a comprehensive analysis, including a thorough technological assessment. Let’s take a look at some examples of tech debt problems and solutions that can be applied.
- Double-check the code for poor programming tactics
One of the grave mistakes you can find in multi-layer obsolete software is poor-quality code. Let’s say your website breaks every time users perform a certain routine action. Does it potentially deter them from using the related features or worse – seek an alternative path?
Badly written frontend that breaks websites can cause users to devise a lengthy workaround which can sabotage the designed process, creating a mess on a user trail. To detect and solve such issues, perform a thorough code audit, apply clean code practices, and test solutions before deployment. These tactics will allow you to find root causes and address them comprehensively.
- Pump up the performance
You may not intuitively link user experience with performance, but the truth is that performance problems can hugely undermine your users’ actions in the system. In fact, performance issues may be visible in the form of “crashes, bugs, latency, outages and bad UX flows”.
What are the effects of bad performance? If your app can’t run efficiently, users can quit using it. As data cited by Neil Patel shows, the slower the page response time, the higher the page abandonment rate. This affects both desktop and mobile users but mobile experiences require even more attention, as mobile traffic accounts for a half of total user traffic in 2021, and is currently on the rise (by more than 10% when compared to 2020).
📊 Other statistics:
The likelihood of mobile users buying from a brand after an earlier unsatisfactory mobile experience drops by 60%.
Nearly 80% of users unhappy with what they encounter on a website will return and look for a different site.
What users want most from mobile sites today. Source: Think with Google
Furthermore, according to Patel, mobile users drop the website after six to ten seconds of loading. The result is that if your app or website can’t run efficiently, users can quit using it, thus sabotaging conversions.
Performance can be undermined by a variety of factors but they generally concern the amount of content, media, data, and queries being processed both on the frontend and backend. To achieve optimal loading and faster responses on the backend side, you may need to minimize the number of queries to databases or use faster data search options such as Elasticsearch. On the frontend side, you can choose faster frontend frameworks, monitor the size of third-party libraries with a bundle analyzer, or use lazy loading to delay resources initialization. You may also move your network off-premise to reap the performance benefits of the cloud such as low latency and improved system uptime.
- Nip the bugs in the bud
Let’s say your app produces bugs at multiple stages of the user flow, causing users to abandon any further action completely. It’s definitely a problem that needs attention. However, legacy software is unlike other, less complex apps. Immediate code rewrite may not work here. It may even create more bugs.
To follow best practices, get a complete overview of the QA processes against other actions to be taken in the system. If you’re tempted to refactor the existing code, check if it complies with architectural priorities and minimal usability domains. This way, you will avoid a total collapse of an already strained platform. Conduct QA analysis as part of the general tech assessment of the existing system. As a result, you will get a complete tech picture of your product and its needs in terms of QA and dev processes, context mapping, architecture review, integration, deployment, source code analysis, database structure, security, and infrastructure.
- Reimagine data storage, performance and efficiency with the cloud in mind
Outdated software often makes it impossible to connect with new technologies necessary for smooth business operations. One of the serious tech challenges coming with multi-tier obsolete software is the limited capacity for cloud adoption. 62% of IT leaders perceive obsolete software as the greatest barrier preventing multi-cloud success. Cloud computing presents undeniable advantages to enterprises struggling with large-scale yet archaic and non-functional software. These benefits, though, are sometimes not possible to achieve without some level of system modernization.
Before we get to the reasons for that, let’s clarify why the cloud is so important and beneficial for enterprises. The cloud is a centralized platform for testing, deployment, and production. It allows your teams to automate repetitive tasks and processes, thus improving efficiency and saving costs in the long run. From the DevOps perspective, the cloud enables a faster deployment by facilitating more effective work of developers and QA experts. It is crucial if you’re struggling with the lengthy and costly deployment of new features. Another advantage of the cloud for enterprises is that it allows them to scale operations up or down, providing room for demand peaks. Due to the nature of online storage, the cloud also offers benefits when it comes to a large amount of data it can hold offline.
If there are so many pros to using cloud storage, why is the full benefit of the cloud available only to those companies that work on modern systems?
Without some level of modernization, obsolete software doesn't have the technical capacity for modern iterative development.
Legacy solutions weren’t built for high-level automation, scaling, or iteration, not to mention that sometimes they are not even ready to process the existing user traffic or be integrated with third parties. These products were often created to function in a batch mode instead of continual iteration. Their ability to evolve without being modernized is as limited as the poor functionality they so often provide in the long run.
The solution for these pains is software modernization based on in-depth tech assessment. It provides you with the tools and techniques that allow a gradual cloud adoption in line with business, user, and tech needs. You can choose between cloud migration (Lift & Shift), refactoring (Augment & Refactor), or a Complete Rewrite with the full power of the cloud. The implementation of the most suitable software modernization strategy per given case is typically defined at the pre-development stage of software modernization.
3 software modernization approaches for adjusting your software
- Disentangle complex software
Let’s say your solution’s architecture reflects more the state your app was in 10 years ago when your business was taking off. While the business can be carried out somehow, you are experiencing a variety of software issues such as performance, bugs, user dissatisfaction, broken websites, and software collapses. Both internal and external users have been signaling problems for some time now. The thing about entanglement in software is that root causes of system complexity rarely function in isolation. System modules are highly interrelated, whereas processes within various technical domains overlap with one another. On top of that, no one knows all the correlations, so it’s hard to develop such a solution.
Changes in one part of the digital ecosystem may trigger unexpected dysfunctions in other segments.
If technical silos have mounted in your product over the years, it pays off to disentangle your system’s complex foundations. The scope of the changes will depend on your business goals, but there are some solutions you can use for the best results. The key is to uncover what’s hidden behind the symptoms your system is producing.
Conducting workshops will help you and your teams establish the general picture of how business needs affect your product and the system’s processes. Tech audit will give you a detailed overview of the product from the technical side, highlighting system strengths and deficiencies as well as future changes.
You can use system and process exploration methodologies such as Domain-Driven Design and Event Storming to shed light on the solution-critical areas, dependent modules, and the Pivotal Events in the flow. These are especially important in digital products based on unstable foundations. It is a starting point, but it provides a solid basis for simplifying system architecture, merging IT with business relevance, reducing duplication, and eliminating errors.
Summing up, in obsolete multi-layer software, signals that your product’s health might be deteriorating may come from many different sides. To address all of them, you need to take into account all user experience aspects, both UX and tech-related.
|Impeded user flow, outdated UI, defective navigation, Information Architecture mess||Website or application redesign|
|Low-quality code||Refactoring with implementation of clean code solutions|
|Poor performance||Loading optimization on the backend and frontend, cloud solutions and DevOps processes|
|Lack of cloud enablements||Technological assessment and choice of the cloud transition path|
|High software complexity||Discovery workshops, tech audit, and iterative software adjustment|
So you know the problems companies experience that can lead to app or website modernization and the solutions to go for. You may be tempted to proceed to address the issues as quickly as possible. However, don’t rush to action unless you ensure that teams and experts are prepared for such an endeavor. It may help to make sure they are aware of the common challenges exemplified below.
Remember that in multi-layer solutions, a digital upgrade is often a complex process where straightforward solutions may not always be applicable. It stems from the common challenges in resolving UX issues: invisible problems and a lack of tech expertise.
- Invisible problems: “Won’t it help to fix some bugs?”
When experiencing errors that hinder user activity, most people’s impulse would be to simply fix them. While removing bugs will help your users, it’s hardly ever the only core issue in the case of enterprise companies with multi-tier systems. Less visible but equally important can be the technical debt problems that touch on areas outside of Quality Assurance, such as Architecture. That’s why removing bugs may solve only some of the problems, neglecting these less obvious ones.
Double-check the priority of the problem for users, the time needed to fix it, and chew over the consequences of your actions.
You’d also need to examine if getting rid of bugs makes sense for the application in the first place. After all, you wouldn’t want to chase a lost cause of eliminating errors that affect only 2% of users, while transferring the weight of the traffic to another, already bottlenecked part of the system. In this way, you can only worsen the performance of other segments of your application.
The four types of technical improvements that can be made in a company’s technology stack (Aequilibrium). Source: Toptal.
- Insufficient tech knowledge: “Won’t it be enough to change the layout?”
In complex systems and applications, one problem often leads to another. As a result, UI problems may hide deeper issues that go down to other domains specific to technology. Therefore, although resolving the layout issues may sound like an intuitive solution, if your system is facing more complex architectural challenges, for example, you might have to hire experts capable of digging deeper in the tech stack.
When a website structure stands in a one-to-one relationship with the backend, changing the layout causes a complete mess behind the scenes.
A common problem in complex archaic systems is that website structure stands in a one-to-one relationship with the backend. In such cases, changing the layout causes a complete mess behind the scenes. In more modern solutions, however, frontend frameworks derive data from a multitude of sources, thus reducing system dependencies and entanglement.
Once you know the common challenges and tools to address them, you may wonder what your best option is and how to proceed further.
Apply solutions to eliminate UX and tech debt
From our experience, every case of user experience modernization is different. You may need a far-reaching revamp with complex cloud enablements to cater to the needs of thousands of users. Or maybe your solution requires a fresh new look and an architecture redesign to provide a stable environment for new features? Whatever your needs are, applying best practices is the way to go. It’s like finding the best medication for a disease. You wouldn’t want to waste your money on unnecessary treatment, would you?
In this context, it pays off to know that IT projects run the risk of budget failures. According to McKinsey-Oxford research based on 5400 IT projects, technical ambiguity and changing project requirements together with badly-defined goals and a lack of business orientation constitute nearly a half (22)% of a 45% cost-overrun.
Four groups of issues that trigger most project failures identified by IT executives in the McKinsey and Oxford study. Source: McKinsey-Oxford study
If these figures speak to you, apply software modernization. It allows you to address a variety of possible problems with specific, top-notch solutions. Starting from workshops, through user interviews and analytics, to UX and tech audits, it will help you make sure misguided actions don’t weaken the business. Adopting an adequate process, you will get both UX and tech gains – and set up your organization for success.
Once you know how to identify and resolve UX issues in enterprise software, it pays off to avoid the common mistakes that easily can lead to user experience issues. Doing so will increase your teams’ UX awareness and allow them to create mature, scalable digital products in the future.
- Let the business goals guide your efforts
To avoid dealing with a lack of business value of your modern tech stack, you need to strategize your teams’ tech outlook to ensure business-driven usability. Some companies still make the mistake of devoting too much time to choosing the most suitable technologies, giving relatively little attention to the value of these in terms of business goals. In the landscape of tech-driven development, it’s easy to treat technology as the ultimate indicator of a project’s success. For example, choosing microservices to modernize a monolithic app may be tempting, but what if you neglect the solution’s usability in the process of modernization? In truth, both UX design and the tech stack serve to fulfill the business goals laid out in the general strategy.
Go for user research to analyze and improve internal apps’ quality
According to statistics cited by Retool and shown below, more than one-third of developers’ time is spent on building internal apps in companies with up to approximately 500 employees. For large organizations with around 5,000 employees, this number rises to as much as 45%.
Percent of time spent on internal apps by company size (State of Internal Tools 2021). Source: Retool
As sobering as these statistics look already, business practice also shows that internal apps are sometimes disregarded because they are not judged by paying customers but rather by internal teams that have to deal with problems either way. What if completing a simple 10-minute task causes your in-house users to spend an hour trying to devise a workaround? Can you really afford to overlook this problem? To prevent such situations, make sure your internal solutions are also analyzed as part of user research. This way, you will protect your users from experiencing time and again these obvious yet extremely frustrating errors in internal software design, and save yourself the risk of people’s productivity and morale dropping down – both of which could follow otherwise.
Test your solution regularly with real users
Budget constraints and a lack of time sometimes cause IT projects to proceed without usability testing. However, if your application or website has not been tested with users, it may not only fail to live up to their expectations but, more importantly, cause critical system errors. Some examples include a navigation mishmash or error pop-ups that may turn your app into a labyrinth. To prevent that, remember that you are not your user. Make sure that your external teams perform regular usability testing as part of user research. It helps to assess the solution’s accessibility with input from those who actually use it. Thanks to user tests, you’ll also avoid a common mistake of assuming that you know the platform so well that you don’t need to verify its quality with anyone else.
In legacy software, a sudden and revolutionary change in the interface may cause a rapid decrease in productivity due to your users' long-term habits.
What’s more, for legacy software, a paradoxical situation might occur: a sudden and revolutionary change in the interface might result in a rapid decrease in productivity because of the long-term habits of your users. In such cases, usability testing might stop you from turning the app upside down and lay the foundations for more iterative changes.
Encourage long-term thinking and solutions
When modifying digital products, it’s always easier to see the most immediate outcomes of redesign, not to mention it’s probably also cheaper to follow the easy path in general. The real challenge, though, is to act on the risks that may follow from a messy build-up of short-term fixes. Regardless of the type of UX enhancement you need, incorporate it into a wider context of your organization. To do that, you will have to take into account both the wider business strategy and the product design (UX-UI) game plan that supports it. In this way, you will ensure the product has the necessary logic and quality, and pave the way for scalability.
Don’t hesitate to use external help if necessary
If you don’t have teams capable of addressing UX problems in-house, don’t take shortcuts. It is sometimes the case that organizations with major flaws in the product’s user flow overestimate their internal teams’ capability for executing usability changes. You are not the only company that has such temptations. After all, the profession of user experience designers is a relatively young one. To make matters more challenging, the development and market meaning of UX is powered by the fast-developing digital economy with fierce and unforgiving product competition. That’s all the more reason to collaborate with competent UX partners with the process knowledge. Remember, however, to verify your external team’s skills. Market awareness, and experience in designing long-lasting scalable solutions are a must.
To wrap up, software modernization with the user in mind can be a tough pill to swallow. But it gets easier, if you understand what you’re really up against and what’s hiding beneath the surface of poor user experience. Ditch the shortcuts and really get down to what’s eating up your system from the inside. Taking a comprehensive approach to user-centered modernization will propel your efforts in the right direction. From the grasp of the whole UX-tech ecosystem, through the knowledge of tools and techniques to use, to applying adequate solutions specific to UX or related tech problems. By now you should know what mistakes your teams should avoid to prevent the accumulation of UX issues but if you need external help, you can consider outsourcing your project to a competent IT partner.
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