Is usability important?

Well of course it bleeding well is, which is why I was incredulous to even see that Michael Krigsman suggests that enterprise software doesn’t need to be “sexy” (and the term is misleading and ambiguous) the original post by Robert Scoble really used the word “sexy” when it should have user “user-friendly”, “intuitive” or “solution-centric”.

So with that redefinition in mind I was pleased to read the unreasonablemen’s post this afternoon, using their example of negotiating the nightmare that is SAP. The UM say;

Now SaaS application vendors understand this stuff. Mashup’s, customisable fields, business driven adoption (ie people use SaaS because it works, not because they bought it). If on prem vendors don’t get this, and more usable, nimble and functionally rich SaaS applications come along that make use adoption easier, they are going to be in trouble.

And this is the crux of the matter. My evangelism about SaaS isn’t some modern day cult of worship for the latest, greatest thing. Rather it is an appreciation for a solution that has one core requirement, that is to enable the user to achieve their objectives as quickly, easily and solution-centrically as possible.

So yes, all software be it desktop, on demand, enterprise, consumer or whatever has to have the user at heart. The fact that SaaS does as of design is bringing the whle issue to the fore and making some traditional software companies very worried indeed…

3 Comments
  • I agree that usability is important. However, it should be noted that enterprise software has two distinct audiences: corporate back-office and the users who perform data entry.

    Good entry. I followed up with my own thoughts on the topic at
    http://www.joemanna.com/blog/enterprise-software-bloggers/

    ~ Joe

  • This was the message that Salesforce.com was putting forward at their seminar in Wellington I attended. They showed how easy it is to customise the interface to your liking, as opposed to a hardcoded application that would require months of development work to customise.

  • I can’t count how many times bookkeepers have said that we have it right because we allow for data entry operators as a user type when we designed Saasu.com. If they had to use a mouse to drag and drop something they would scream us off the web. A lot of web 2.0 apps have got this wrong and I must admit I agree with some of the points Scoble makes. That said I totally disagree with his forgiving of bad enterprise user experience for the sake of transaction processing certainty (his example). That thinking is very typical in enterprise user interface design sessions (I’ve been in a few). Enterprise software designers should take a leaf out of the recreational systems like Facebook on that point and modify it down for true business processing users.

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