Keep it simple: Application Usability

September 15 2014, by Macquarie Telecom Group | Category: Group

As businesses continue to develop internal applications for their employees, they are coming to find that the old KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) model is the most productive approach. Rather than having applications with excessive menus and features, users are most productive and happy when focus is placed on their core requirements.

When a highly complex application is released to employees in an organisation, they will often decide not to use it because it is simply too hard to navigate. Instead of making tasks easier and more efficient, the application has instead become an obstacle. This is why applications should be as simple and easy-to-use as possible.

Remember Your Audience – the end-user

Industry conferences and forums that application developers attend have indicated that the most simple applications in the market have become massively successful. Mobile applications and games such as Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja showcase how an extremely simple concept can gather a broad worldwide user base. Developers can replicate that simple delivery of consumer applications in the business world.

Most importantly, developers should never forget to cater to the average person on the field. Whether the end-user will be an employee, distributor, or a subcontractor, they are consumers in one way or another. What is appealing to them at a consumer level will also be appealing on a business level.

Applications should always be built to suit the end-user—for example, an application in a financial company that is aimed at monitoring or managing large sets of numbers will present itself very differently from a logistics or distribution application that will be used predominately by truck drivers or delivery personnel. Drivers would want to look at a much simpler screen that can be used while walking back to their truck. They will probably not have the time to focus on many small numbers and on-screen features.

A very common situation that companies tend to encounter is gradually increasing complexity in applications that have been in development for many years. As time goes by, more and more features are piled on top of an already large application. In addition, the application may be tweaked to run on platforms that it was not meant for at its inception. For example, PC software that is many years old is often ported to mobile devices.

Salesforce is an exceptionally successful and broadly used application for a wide range of companies. It is a highly efficient way for sales staff and provisioning staff to interact with each other while processing orders and identifying opportunities in the market. It has been developed for many years as a PC application.

When switching over to the mobile version of this app, tasks become highly complicated. There are many different components on-screen at once, and the experience has led to many users simply going back to the PC version. This has even led to a number of companies that specialise in building customised front-ends for Salesforce, where most of the excessive complexity is stripped out.

What is presented to the end-user is a simplified, streamlined interface that only contains the most relevant tasks that are needed. Instead of having a cluttered, complicated interface with hundreds of pieces of information, the customised front-ends will show the ten most frequently used items. Mobile users are mainly concerned with completing tasks such as verifying an address or reading some quick personal notes on file. Applications that remove extraneous interface elements and unwanted complexity will be more widely adopted by end-users.

Keep it simple

This approach should be considered with all mobile applications—instead of trying to develop an all-encompassing application that requires extensive knowledge, the focus should instead be placed on making an application that does a few important things very well. Application usability would be greatly improved by stripping out irrelevant or often unused items, and showing people on the field only the tasks that they are actually trying to accomplish.

This is what we refer to when talking about focusing on execution rather than solution construct. To continue this discussion, you can submit an online enquiry and our Customer Support Team will be in contact with you. . Alternatively, visit Macquarie Telecom’s LinkedIn Company Page, which is a good way for customers to get in contact with us for more information.