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Refreshing User Experience - Different strokes for different folks

In my last blog I wrote about the problems organizations face when running with systems with poor User Experience (UX). Having experienced these problems across various projects, I thought it might be a good idea to showcase the situations which may necessitate a change in UX for an organization and the options which can be used....

Option 1 - Out with the old, In with the new

One of the situations in which the organization considers a change in User Experience (UX) is when it has received a strong backlash from the end users. Bringing in a new system resolves this issue as the newer systems generally have considered user experience as a vital point during the build. Then there are times when business or other factors necessitate the need for the retirement of an old system. This provides the organization with another opportunity to get the user experience fixed. The third situation in which an organization looks for a UX replacement is during an upgrade of software. If the new software presents new flows and screens which demand a new interface, the UX may get replaced as well.

The key to success in getting a new system with a new UX is to recognize the role of UX early in the game and to have a strong change management program in place to ensure the changeover to the new system is as seamless as possible to the end users. Having an early buy in from the end users and training them right at the beginning can ensure that the system "starts off on the right foot".

Option 2 - A new cover for an existing book.

If the system under question contains valuable business logic and intelligence that might be difficult and/or expensive to recreate and if the problem is related only to the UX, building a new façade for the system could be an option. Assuming that the embedded business logic can be accessed externally, we can build a new front end to the system.

Another solution for the same problem are products which claim to provide new ways to access the old processes and steps but this only perpetuates the failure of the old system. Providing a web interface to the same green screen based system does not solve UX problems. It may help in reducing the licensing costs but does not resolve the UX problems.

Thus, while designing a new façade, it is extremely important to keep the UX needs in mind else it may result in the entire effort falling "flat on its face".

Option 3 - In-Situ fix

This is one of my favorite approaches. Many web applications developed before the dawn of the consumer age were developed completely from a developer's viewpoint. There was very little attention given to how the end users would actually benefit from using the application.This was particularly true of systems that were developed for use within the enterprise boundaries.
Refreshing the UX of these applications is relatively simpler given that almost all these applications had separation of the presentation and business logic to a greater or lesser degree. Here is where the processes of Heuristic Evaluation and UX Design can be leveraged to truly identify the issues and design a system that helps alleviate some of the pain. The expert UX designer can take a deep dive into the business process and the way the system implements it to pin point the shortcomings in the system and provide guidance on how those can be overcome.  


The circumstances of the enterprise and where the application is in its lifecycle will determine the nature of the fix. At times may be a combination of these will have to be deployed. After all, one size does not necessarily fit all.

What do you think?

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