The User Experience - Lessons from Apple article published on the UC Strategies web site.
by Neal Shact
How will users respond? Will they use it? And how much grief is this going to cause us? Those are just some of the questions that arise when shopping for a new messaging system. The key focus should always be the users.
The true test of any technology deployment is user acceptance. If users fail to embrace the proposed technology, the anticipated productivity benefits may never materialize. New features that are heavily promoted by well financed so called industry leaders are great, but if you can't get your users to adopt them because it requires a heavy-handed forklift migration that requires extensive user retraining, you will never get there.
To better understand how these lessons apply to messaging it is useful to look at the company that is broadly acclaimed at having one of the best User Experience, Apple. They are legendary in the technology world for their focus on the user, with their aesthetically pleasing and elegant user interface that still combines the introduction of advanced features. What are some of the keys to their success?
Apple extensively studies user needs and understand how to make the technology easy for new users, while also meeting the productivity needs of more sophisticated users.
Careful design has gone into the user interface to make sure it has the features, performance and appearances to deliver a comprehensive and well-planned user experience. Apple has found that paying attention to the user is solid business strategy.
Key factors include:
- Users experience an ease of use if the interface looks and feels like what they are used to.
- Users can complete work tasks quickly, because well-designed tools help and do not hinder them.
- Users like using applications that have the same look and feel as what they are used to.
- Documentation and use is much easier when the interface is familiar and intuitive and certainly requires less explanation
- A reduction in the quantity of help desk and support calls since users can easily use the technology.
How do these lessons apply to voice messaging systems? It is easy to lose focus on the user and get caught up in features and grand visions that may never materialize. No one knows what the future will bring in the long run.
What do users want?
They want the ease of use of what they already know how to use combined with the power of new features and options. They are too busy for classes and certainly don't want to read manuals. They want something familiar and when it comes to powerful new functions, they want to learn to use them when they have some free time or are motivated enough to invest the effort in learning them. Just like using computer games or technology at home, when you are motivated enough or have enough of a need you invest the time. When it is bad timing, which often accompanies the stresses imposed by these new economic times, it can be immensely disruptive.
Migrating users to a new system involves moving messages, greetings and data bases is an effective process can save man years of work!
Look past the claims of those claiming that a Telephone User Interface (TUI) emulation will satisfy your users. It is not enough and a TUI is not a panacea for migration. TUI emulations just go down one layer and in the end users are lulled into thinking they have everything they used to have when it isn't the case. More importantly, if someone else is going to emulate your TUI, isn't it an acknowledgment that you already have something worth keeping. It is hard to imagine anything more intuitive that hitting the "P" to play a message. Certainly a random number assignment or worse yet, a two digit number assignment.
Be like Steve, take care of your users.