A wish list of three for UI / UX for the casual user


Yesterday, I needed to update something fairly trivial for a certain payroll deduction . It used to be a simple form on our intranet the last time I used it (several years ago) and I searched for it . The search didn’t help me much and I asked a colleague where this form was and he told me it is now in workday, which is what we use for some HR related functionality .

So I logged on to workday and searched and eventually found out a link to do this update . The UI navigation and the workflow were so not intuitive that I had to phone a friend again to finish that update . Honestly looking at the confirmation message – I can’t say for sure whether what I intended to do and what the system did actually matched . I will have to wait for my next pay stub to confirm .

I am absolutely a causal user for HR systems . I periodically use it for goal setting and appraisals and so on . And rarely there is some other change like the one I needed to do yesterday . Consequently I have no intention of taking a tutorial to learn how to navigate an HR system myself .

HR is not the only system I use infrequently . Some times I need to use procurement system to buy something – like to buy a a phone every few years, or to order new business cards when I have a change in role . Actually I went through a few role changes and didn’t bother to get new cards since no one seems to use it any more 🙂

The only system I really use frequently is our CRM system and some financial reporting where I keep track of my business . Those apps – I take the time to learn how to navigate etc .

So what am I looking for in systems that I log in only infrequently ? Just three things really

1. Ease of discovery

I need to be able to search and find specific information from some common starting point like the intranet . Why do I need to login first and then search within each SaaS app ? They should expose search and then make me login to actually use it .

2. Ease of access

For me – this simply means it should be on my mobile . I don’t really care if it’s an app since I rarely use it . Ideally this should be a bot which works via text or voice chat , or even SMS . Everything doesn’t need a UI to provide me with a great UX

3. Simplest workflow possible

I get it that every update probably triggers some workflow in a company . The only thing I care about is if I have to provide some input , and to know when the update will take effect . If I need to take approval from someone – I want to know status and contact info . As a casual user – I don’t want to see a page full of steps the system auto approves etc .

Unfortunately – and I know this from being an ERP consultant myself in the past – workflows are designed for the most complicated use case and then forced down the throats of casual users . This really should change fundamentally . It was not a good idea then and it’s a terrible idea now . And that is putting things delicately .

If I have one update to make – I just need a one step process . I shouldn’t have to go through multiple screens to do that . If your framework needs a two step process for something like an audit trail – figure it out in the backend and don’t make it the causal user’s problem .

Ideally it should be fire and forget for the causal user and things magically happen behind the scenes . It should be possible to get status easily – ideally via a natural language question via chat or sms – when I ask it , or automatically triggered if the system is stuck for a while for any reason

That’s pretty much all I wish for .

Published by Vijay Vijayasankar

Son/Husband/Dad/Dog Lover/Engineer. Follow me on twitter @vijayasankarv. These blogs are all my personal views - and not in way related to my employer or past employers

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