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In the current landscape of design, while Sketch has cemented itself as the primary UI/UX daily driver, competitors such as Figma have emerged to push the envelope in their own respects. In this article, projekt202’s Peter Vogt explores the benefits of using Figma as a resource for your design team.
Challenge: Applications are running into language barriers
One of the world’s top technology and hardware development companies needed consistency across its enterprise suite of over 80 applications. A streamlined enterprise design language, uniform navigation and standard product guidelines were essential.
Recommendation: Create language and workflow consistency
With its experience-driven design research methodology, projekt202 was asked to improve key workflows for high-revenue products and establish a design-thinking approach within the enterprise organization.
To gain insights into core users, projekt202’s team observed IT administrators, revealing that more than half of the applications were controlled by third-party development teams. In addition, many products had overlaps in functionality.
projekt202 also conducted a visual design exploration that would become the foundation for the company’s enterprise design language. This created a new look and feel to apply to an initial set of core products, showcasing their scalability and flexibility.
Results: Uniform language delivers pronounced revenue increases and brand reception
Applying its synthesized data from direct user observations, projekt202 built a new navigation across large portions of the application suite. The team also created an online repository to facilitate the new enterprise design language and its patterns. With these guidelines, the client established requirements for all third-party teams, which formed a more streamlined, cohesive and integrated suite of applications.
As a result of projekt202’s work:
- The client’s software as a service (SaaS) revenue has grown dramatically, along with its Net Promoter Score (NPS), a valuable indicator of business performance and brand experience
- The company bulked up its internal user experience (UX) team from three members to more than 30
- Employees have access to continuing education on experience-driven design and UX classes, taught by projekt202
By: Ken Hess
Originally Published in ZDNet: May 11, 2015
Summary: Before any projekt202 developers tap in a single line of code on your new application, the design staff spends time with your users to find out how they work, what their needs are, and what makes them efficient. Engaging users in the design phase. What a concept.
Although engaging users during the design phase of an application should be the normal way to do things, it isn’t. Not by any current standards, at least. The philosophy at projekt202 is different than normal. The developers and the design team for an application extensively engage, interview, and observe users before entering a single line of code. CEO David Lancashire and I spoke about projekt202’s unique application design and build philosophy is the exact opposite of “standard” application development. I found it refreshing to know that his teams take user feedback, work habits, needs, and desires into the core of the application design process. What a new and exciting concept it is when a programmer asks a user how to do something. It’s called “Experience-Driven Software Development” and it’s the modern approach to user-centric design.
Maybe this is the new normal for building applications.
Unfortunately, application development usually takes the following path:
- Initial client meeting, which might or might not include a developer.
- Requirements gathering for the application covering the type of app, number of users, platform, etc.
- Developers go into “silent” mode while programming the alpha release of the product.
- Periodic update meetings to check progress.
- Alpha release; much fanfare.
- Feedback on alpha release.
- Periodic update meetings to check progress.
- Beta release; much fanfare.
- Feedback on beta release.
- Periodic update meetings to check progress.
- Excuses as to why the product is delayed.
- Missed milestones.
- Periodic update meetings to check progress.
- Conversion of old data into the new application format.
- Excuses as to why 60 percent of the data will be lost or munged.
- 1.0 release, much long-awaited fanfare.
- User complaints, bug reports, application crashes, data loss.
- Data re-entry.
- Long overdue patches and updates.
- Lather. Rinse. Repeat those last three steps.
I’m sorry that this list was painful to read through. It was painful to write. It’s equally painful to live through when having an application built. I didn’t include the pain of dealing with your typical vendor’s offshore (cheap labor) programmers. That’s a whole other painful tale that includes time zone problems, language problems, cultural differences, and misunderstandings of business requirements. There’s no greater joy than to spend an hour (or more) on a phone call and to feel that you’ve accomplished nothing from it.
The end result is that you never get the application that you’ve paid for and your users never get an application that truly works for them. In all, you’ve wasted how much time, labor hours, money on something that really doesn’t work for you.
There is a better way. The projekt202 way.
“The perspective and processes projekt202 is focusing on and perfecting will, over time, become standard operating procedure for any application development project.”– Gartner
Revealing Reality - Fact gathering involves understanding the constraints of the project and then engaging in an observational process to develop a full understanding of the user. The company seeks to fundamentally answer the following question: “What should we be building?”
Focused Innovation - With data points extracted from user observations and other evidence sources, the company puts insights into action and creates a grounded vision for the product and design principles for building it.
Building & Evolving - Cross-functional teams are used to build the software. Scrum-like processes are engaged to plan and execute on the discoveries made in earlier phases.
As you can clearly see, projekt202’s approach is different than the accepted practice of creating applications on the fly with release/trial/error/reprogram/release, etc. The accepted model doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for users. It doesn’t work for companies that pay for the development and it doesn’t work for the application programmers. Missed deadlines, poor application design, low user acceptance, and high maintenance costs are but a few of the reasons why the accepted model doesn’t work.
The user-centric model that projekt202 has developed over the years works. It’s a detour from the normal way of doing things. When you see the projekt202 team working, you might not understand the method behind the madness, but your users will and that’s really what you’re paying for: user acceptance. To empower users in the design and development phases of application development ensures buy-in from the user community because they have had a voice and a hand in creation.
It’s not a culture of complaints; it’s a culture of progress toward a goal–a common goal among designers, developers, and users. It’s a brilliant application development method and one that should be far more common than it is.
Another unique projekt202 feature is that they’d like not only to talk to you, but also to see you. That’s why the team freely publishes their addresses and phone numbers in Addison, Texas; in Austin, Texas; and in Seattle, Washington.
By Peter Eckert, TechNewsWorld
Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2011
It’s about time to change the stereotypical tablet user from casual and hipster to high-management.
The post-PC world is now; tablets and other mobile devices are beginning to dominate the marketplace. An estimated 45 million tablets will be sold in 2011, three times the number sold in 2010, according to BMO. With that explosion in popularity, it is no surprise they are making their way into the enterprise environment.
From the emergency room to the boardroom, tablets and other mobile devices are decreasing paper-based processes, as well as improving communications, workflows and efficiencies. The linchpin to tablets’ future in the enterprise environment will be the incorporation of a tablet user interface.
In With the New
Filling a different niche than PCs do, tablets will be widely adopted in the enterprise environment in numerous verticals. Eighty percent of businesses will support a workforce using tablets by 2013, according to Gartner (NYSE: IT) Research.
The old computer paradigm of a massive box that takes up half a desk was a result of physical, size and weight limitations; the tablet has lifted these physical barriers, paving the way to excel in mobile and other environments.
Tablets are already used across a swath of sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, real estate and retail. Hospitals are using tablets to facilitate information sharing. Instead of fumbling with a pile of charts or rushing back to a desktop, doctors can quickly access a patient’s records, check for medication interactions or view x-rays from anywhere in the hospital.
Financial institutions are leveraging these devices to streamline loan applications. Architects are bringing tablets to meetings to show blueprints and floor plans that can be updated on the fly; previously, mounds of printed plans would be out of date the second an alteration was made.
Retailers are implementing tablets to have roaming checkouts, price checks and inventory records. Airplane pilots use tablets for charts and other navigational tasks. These applications are just the tip of the iceberg — enterprise tablet uses will develop with the product itself.
Despite all the success stories, the tablet is not right for every environment — at least not today. It is all too trendy to look to the tablet for every business environment, but certain solutions are just too complex or oversaturated with features to be easily ported to the tablet.
Job functions that require heavy data entry and intricate document creation are currently too cumbersome to carry out on tablets. It is less about the tablet itself and more about the task the tablet is asked to perform.
This will change in the future, as the next five years will be dramatic in the progression of tablet capabilities. For example, actionable table functionality is expected to flourish through voice commands, advanced gestures and other methods.
What to Consider
While numerous businesses are finding improved efficiencies and communications since adopting tablets, others are trying to ascertain if they’re right for their organizations. Regardless of some of the tablet’s obvious limitations, however, they will continue to find their way into the enterprise environment.
Before an organization adopts a strategy to implement tablets, there are some things to consider. Understanding the role of the users and the functionality they require is critical to maximize the success of deploying the tablet in the enterprise environment. Companies with employees who work in the field, for example, will benefit greatly from tablets. Companies also need to evaluate the available applications in the market in order to best apply tablets in their daily operations.
Unfortunately, today’s application offerings are often ported from existing applications and do not translate smoothly to the tablet because they were created without much consideration for touch-enabled devices.
Furthermore, complex software applications for the enterprise include a number of features that do not lend themselves easily to the simpler and more intuitive application paradigm and input methods that the tablet platform supports. They will have to be restructured and deployed with a subset of functionality in order to be cohesive with tablets.
However, it is important to understand that tablets are still in an early development stage, and there are not many suitable applications available on iOS or Android to support an enterprise or productivity-focused company.
However, specialized workforces and mobile workforces can leverage existing tablet offerings to increase efficiency and streamline daily processes now. Once the kinks in the user interfaces of ERP-level applications are ironed out, tablet use in business will excel well beyond those specific workforces.
The Right Approach Going Forward
Improved user interface design will transform the way tablets are used in organizations and greatly increase the benefits of tablet implementation in businesses. Going forward, it will be paramount to design interfaces that will allow users different, customized applications that are tailored to their specific needs for a seamless experience.
The reduced form factor of a tablet and the usage patterns of the end user require a special user experience that showcases just a fraction of the functionality of an enterprise-rich desktop application; tablets don’t have the capacity to offer everything a PC does, but they offer unique advantages.
Out of the box, the tablet is a great tool for specialized tasks in workforces. However, the integration of superior user interface designs will accelerate the tablet’s adoption in the enterprise environment — and that adoption will accelerate efficiency and productivity in myriad industries..
By Peter Eckert
Originally published in UX Magazine, September 29, 2011
A May 2011 study shows that 78 percent of business and IT executives plan to officially deploy tablets by the end of 2013, yet only 51 percent have adopted a strategy for tablet use. The majority (83 percent) plans to deploy iPads, primarily because of its widespread popularity. As a result, Android-based tablets have begun to tout that they are designed for enterprise deployment in an attempt to differentiate their platform.
This choice of the iPad for business use remains consumer-driven. So far, most employees using iPads as part of their job are just trying them out; there is still a certain sense of novelty in this highly portable device. The great appeal of the iPad is its intuitive, user-friendly interface. A two-year-old can quickly learn to play iPad games and navigate the device.
The conventional computing paradigm for businesses, as well as for most homes, is a desktop computer, maybe a laptop for mobility, and a smartphone. To fully take advantage of the emerging paradigm that places tablets (primarily iPads) in the office, new software strategies are required. The fundamentally complex software served up on desktops and laptops is far too cumbersome in a tablet environment. Successful tablet deployment in the enterprise will require smaller, more specific touch-enabled solutions and tablet-tailored applications.
Not a Hardware Problem
Currently, any function where mobility is a requirement is a potential fit for tablet adoption. Reporting and information facilitation are obvious targets. The entire media industry is keen on monetizing this new platform. Newspapers have struggled online because of the click-through model rather than premium advertisement placement, and they are eager to change that.
Other industries see the tablet as just an extension to their current offering. There’s nothing wrong with that—until one of their competitors shows off a tablet-specific solution. Then you’ll see panic ensue.
Current tablet technology only allows for a subset of the computing power used in high-end desktops. For example, image processing of the kind professional UX designers work with is not possible yet on tablets. Other industries cannot switch to a tablet environment any time soon; for example, industries dependent on ERP or heavy data input, or purchasing and HR, must rely on keyboards or other input devices. The touch-based UI, which lets users perform tasks with just their fingertips, is the great appeal of tablets, but it would be too cumbersome for these data entry applications. Voice technology might bridge the gap some day.
Hardware, however, is not the primary problem keeping tablets from widespread adoption in the enterprise. A bigger obstacle is that most business software solutions (think Oracle) are simply too complex. The power of tablet computing is that it is simple and intuitive. Yet many enterprise solutions are so overloaded with features—some of them unnecessary or seldom used—that they cannot be easily ported to a tablet.
In short, blindly trying to adopt existing products and software to the tablet space will not succeed. Tablet technology will continue to be disruptive until feature-reduced solutions are widely available.
How to Spur Enterprise Adoption
In the same study mentioned earlier, 42 percent of IT respondents said that business stakeholders do not understand the need for additional development in order to successfully enable enterprise applications on iPads and tablets. This is where high-quality UX design could play a major role in boosting enterprise adoption of tablets.
Beginning in Q1 of 2011, Gartner added iPads and other tablets to its computing hardware spending estimates. Analysts forecast a spending increase on media tablets of an annual average rate of 52 percent through 2015.
The form factor of a tablet and the usage patterns of end users require a very tailored user experience, one that showcases just a fraction of the functionality of a rich desktop application or Web application. That makes them a powerful option because people already understand the applications and can easily adapt to a new format of an old solution. Again, it all comes back to good UX design.
Evaluate the types of tools you are using. If the productivity software or any other package you are using will be “just” ported and launched in a web browser, then you might want to stay away from adopting that application for tablet usage. So if you are in purchasing and you have an order entry system that relies on the user to enter orders through keyboard input, that will not work on the tablet efficiently.
But any type of software that has been specifically designed for tablet space will be a good fit for enterprise adoption. We will soon see an increase in workflows that are perfectly suited for the tablet environment—ones that are simple, intuitive and have only a few features per solution.
Peter Eckert, co-founder of projekt202 and chief creative officer, is regarded as one of the leading UI design visionaries in the U.S. Peter has helped many Fortune 500, and leading-edge emerging companies, to implement meaningful software user interface design strategies to transform their organizations into user-centric organizations and produce simple and intuitive products.