A typical organization needs to support any number of complex business rules that are defined from varying departmental and stakeholder needs, regulatory requirements, customer service objectives, technology considerations, and more.
Across digital products and interfaces, as well as service models, users of a product or service may interact with complex internal systems. This can include trying to navigate organizational rules related to data handling, security, access, language, and documentation. This can lead to a complicated user workflow that makes it more and more likely someone will get frustrated, complain, or move on.
It’s precisely in the face of these complex requirements that a simple, intuitive interface becomes essential to provide valuable, rewarding access to otherwise complicated systems.
Abstracting away complexity
While abstraction is a core tenet of computer science, rules-based and engineering-led products and services often fail to deliver compelling, usable interfaces due to a lack of abstraction.
Here’s how you can identify a lack of abstraction which limits the value of a product or service:
- organizational requirements are front and center, with complicated user workflows and language in place to prevent behaviour.
- users are asked to do all the work, instead of the product or service providing increasing value with every interaction or engagement. e.g. providing intelligent recommendations, helping organize information, or other automations or valuable outcomes.
- navigation models are unintuitive to users as they have to learn industry terminology or organizational processes instead of using familiar terms and supporting common, everyday behaviours.
The more complex your system, the simpler your interface needs to be.
The bottom line is: users aren’t interested in muddling through the complexity of your systems, but how a simple, intuitive interface can allow rewarding interaction and outcomes for them.
Achieving an effective user experience
Simply put: it’s the responsibility of an organization to translate complex organizational processes into a simple, intuitive, and ultimately seamless user experience.
It is okay for your organization to have complex processes, use language that would otherwise be confusing to your users, work within limitations or follow best practices that would not seem familiar to your user base. However, if you force these requirements on your users this will lead to confusing and frustrating products and services that will limit adoption, engagement, and use.
It is crucial to therefore find the balance between the complexity of the organization, rules, and data, and providing a compelling experience for your users.
The challenge: in most cases, there is always an alternative to your interface. Whether it’s taking up costly time at your call centre, requiring hands-on support, or, worse still, switching altogether to a competitor. The cost of a poorly executed interface is both measurable and profound.
Succeed by making your product or service a rewarding alternative for users
Here are three rules to live by in shaping your organization’s products and services:
- Users have a variety of ways of solving the problem you’ve designed your organization and product around. If your way isn’t a better way, you’ll lose them.
- Users will work to follow the processes they’re familiar with or without your organization, including through competitors or their own methods. Your job in designing a product or service is to provide higher value for your user over any other alternative method of solving their problem. If not, you limit the incentive to try and continue to use your product or service.
- Remember, the familiar is always easier. Your way needs to be more efficient, enjoyable, or informative than any current user process, or you end up wasting your investment in providing a product or service.