There was a time when shades of grey was an acceptable design choice when it came to custom software development. They remind us of a time when there was no such thing as auto-fill, intuitive design practices and color schemes that made cognitive and psychological sense.
However, many businesses still use these interfaces on a day to day basis — in part because they’ve yet to update their software or migrate out of the current system. While the software may work perfectly fine, bad interface design does more harm than good to the person behind the screen.
Here are some reasons how and why.
Factors that Increase Friction
Software is the act of digitizing systems. If the interface is inefficient, then the system is inefficient as it is a major piece of your process workflow.
However, inefficiencies caused by the interface often share a certain number of characteristics such as lack of clear process pathways, too much “thinking” required in order to proceed to the next step, inaccessibility due to reduced visibility of important elements and entry of data in an order that is “unnatural” to the way work is actually performed.
Your data can also become prone to errors if there isn’t enough validation attached to your interfaces or not useful error handling for the user. Humans are prone to errors but good interface design prevents this from happening through predetermined error handling and expected inputs, thus reducing potential for errors in the long run.
The Impact of Efficient Design
There’s a lot of focus on interface design when there are customers involved. Tracking, analysis, heat maps and A/B testing are some of the common methods to enhance a user’s experience. However, when it comes to internally used software, interface design becomes secondary to almost everything else.
But your team members are customers too. The difference between internal and external customers is that your team doesn’t have a choice of potential alternatives. For an external customer, if your system is hard to use because of how the interface is designed, there’s a higher chance of brand abandonment. For an internal customer, this can result in process abandonment.
Friction caused by design reduces overall productivity because it takes longer to complete a task. An additional click here, an additional click there with no clear flow of information design may seem like a minor thing, but if a team member takes an additional 1-2 minutes for a minor task that is performed over a hundred times each day, this can lead to over an hour of lost potential productivity.
Creating Seamless Workflow Processes
Software is a tool that is used by employees to perform their day to day tasks. From booking systems to looking up data for a specific use case, software is an undeniable and integral part of the workplace.
When productivity hinges on someone’s ability to complete a task, bad interface design can end up being the bottleneck to your workflow and processes. A seamless experience is when technology works like a natural extension to the task rather than a disruption due to a person’s inability to quickly locate or do what they need.
Regardless of how the backend is structured, good interface design can enhance your team’s performance of their daily tasks and therefore increase their overall productivity.
Front end design is important because it is the first point of contact anyone has of your systems. Inefficient interface design is akin to a broken system. While the backend and infrastructure may be solid in its construction, a weak front end lets down the software as a whole — as well as your team’s ability to effectively do their job.
Dave Wesley ~ President, SRG
Aphinya Dechalert ~ Marketing Communications, SRG