Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ease of Use or Die—3 Ways to Succeed

Technology and innovation move at a fast pace. This speed causes interesting dynamics. One of those dynamics is the demand that technology be easy to use. 

To prove my point, let's talk about the rise of the iPhone. The iPhone, as Steve Jobs put it, "changes everything" and it has. Its adoption has spread across the world like a forrest fire. The iPhone demands a new user experience. To say it in one word, it demands "Simplicity". Simplicity that makes complex actions easy, that's right, so easy you'll find a one year old using it. 

Now, it's not just the about iPhone. Smart phones are everywhere and tablets too. And people are spending more time on these devices. The mobile experience, well, it's all about being easy to use—no manual required. 

The mobile experience is also making it's way back to the computer and its software. With the rise of SaaS (software as a service) and the cloud (using software, through a web browser or application, not hosted on your computer or device). Companies around the world are hiring user experience and user interface designers to ensure their products and software are easy to use. 

Ease of Use or Die (3 Ways to Succeed)

So what is ease of use? And how can you ensure your company builds a product that is easy to use. I have thought about this a lot. I think it comes down to 3 things:

1. Simple: It has to be simple. The 80/20 rule. What are the core actions users do with your product or software. Make those actions simple, so simple they require minimal effort to learn or use. 

2. Consistent: The product experience has to be consistent everywhere. I know, you have bolted on so many features through out the years. Be consistent, this makes it easy for the user to learn and use your product.

3. Performance: It has to perform fast. This is the standard, not the advantage. Companies have figured this out. If your product is slow or lags, so will your users. Make sure it performs. Simple test, if you click it should react quickly.

There is one caution before you conquer the three steps, you have to know your user and target audience better than you know yourself. Then proceed. Because when it all comes down to it. We all want one thing. People who love our products so much, they tell their friends.

Remember ease of use or die.

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