By Karen Scipi on Jul 31, 2013
When it comes to creating superior applications, the central design considerations remain the same, no matter whether you’re building interfaces for desktop or mobile workers. Karen Scipi explores user interface (UI) design for enterprise applications, an area even more prescient as cloud-based applications offer opportunities for optimized UIs of different types using the same data.
You must understand who your workers are, what work they do, and the functionality that will most enable them and their productivity in their specific work environments.
- A desktop user interface refers to an interface that’s optimized for tasks that are performed over extended periods of time, usually in an office.
- A simplified user interface refers to an interface that’s optimized quick access, high-volume, self-service tasks that can be completed on any device and from any location.
For example, the task flow for an accounts payable clerk who typically works in an office would differ from the sales manager who travels and works mostly on his mobile device. Which user interface design would work best in each of these scenarios? The answer depends on several heuristics and data points.
When you think about workers’ experiences, ask yourself questions like these:
- Where in the world do these workers work?
- What do workers’ work environments look like? For example, do they work primarily in an office, on a train, or in a warehouse?
- With whom do the workers engage, and how to they engage with others? For example, do they use collaboration tools or social media?
|Worker Role||Typical Work Environment|
|Sales Representative||On the go|
Identify tasks that are central to workers’ roles. But what constitutes a central task? Central tasks are typically the 10% of tasks that 90% of the workers spend 90% of their time performing.
When you think about worker tasks, ask yourself questions like these:
- What specific tasks do workers’ perform?
- Are the tasks self-service tasks for all workers?
- Which tasks are central to workers’ roles?
- How do workers perform these tasks?
- How frequently are these tasks performed?
- Do the tasks require short or long periods of time to complete?
- Do the tasks require significant or minimal data entry activities?
- Where do workers work? On a bus, a train, in a warehouse?
- Based on workers’ roles, work environments, and tasks, which applications, devices, and tools best support their work?
|Worker Role||Typical Work Environment||Typical Work Tasks||Example Applications, Devices, and Tools|
|Order Processor||Office||Data entry||
|Sales Representative||On the go||Engages with existing and prospective customers to maintain and establish relationships and to sell products and services||
Information and information design
When you think about information and design considerations for different types of information, ask yourself questions like these:
- What types of information, such as customer or vendor records, accounting data, trends, issues, news, ratings, and so on do workers need access to?
- How would information best be displayed to enable the interpretation of it? In a workbook, in a form, in a list, in an analytic?
- What key information does the worker need in a specific task flow?
- Can the information be simplified by reducing data and features, or by eliminating corner cases that are displayed in the user interface?
|Worker Role||Typical Work Environment||Examples of Information and Information Display Types|
|Sales Representative||On the go||
Interested in learning more?
- Introducing the New Face of Fusion Applications
- The Cloud User Experience: Changing Everything for Users
- Design for the Mobile Experience
- User Experience in Enterprise Applications: What, Why, and How