An industrial design team wants to improve on a standard pair of pruning shears. Standard shears were designed well for the average adult, but don’t accommodate those outside the average.
When used by strong people, for example, the hinge often would break. On the other extreme, the shears weren’t comfortable for those with weak hands or arthritis.
What’s the solution? Design for the extremes. The final product was ergonomic enough for arthritic users and sturdy enough for the strongest people, and also worked well for everybody in between.
This scene, from the industrial design documentary Objectified, brings home an important principle in user experience design: designing for the extremes. It’s an example of the right mindset for creating a great SharePoint user experience when you’re developing business solutions like intranets, social networks and enterprise collaboration platforms.
So, how do you create a SharePoint user experience that improves the way people work, instead of hindering productivity?
Here are three principles for driving efficiency with your user interface:
- Streamlining: With nearly all business applications, users are looking for key content and functionality, not fluff. A good user experience starts with asking, “What are people ultimately trying to accomplish?” and making sure that design decisions are streamlined to reflect user priorities and help them accomplish key tasks.Streamlining sounds simple — in theory. In practice, it asks stakeholders to resist a common psychological impulse to fill white space with other functions and design elements. For example, let’s say you have a page that’s intended to show a user their current tasks and documents. One person might suggest adding a weather indicator in one corner. Another wants a world clock. Soon, you’ve added a slew of elements that appear to make the page more robust, while actually taking the user’s attention away from key functionality and content, impeding efficiency.
- Removing usability roadblocks: Two factors that constrain efficiency are the quality of the content and the quality of the interaction design. Many different usability factors go into good interaction design, such as proper affordances, establishing a sense of place and clear relationships within the page content.A good SharePoint user experience design should clarify relationships for users. Any time you make your users stop and think about how to accomplish an interim activity on their way to their ultimate activity, it decreases their efficiency.
- Ensuring that people are able to work where necessary: If your company has remote or mobile employees, make sure you remove obstacles that would prevent them from working as if they were in the office. When companies first introduce remote employees or allow people to work from home, the user experience is often an afterthought.For example, if communication tools like enterprise social aren’t well integrated, people may rely on in-person meetings when virtual collaboration would be more effective. That’s both inefficient for in-office personnel and frustrating for mobile or remote employees, who may feel they’re missing out on business conversations.This is where the principle of designing for extremes comes in. If you design your communication and collaboration platforms for the people always working from the office and remote employees, then the user experience should ultimately meet the needs of all those employees in the middle as well.
In the end, streamlining your site design, removing usability roadblocks and making sure the design works for your most extreme workplace scenarios helps ensure you don’t create a rich, robust SharePoint user experience that no one actually uses to accomplish tasks.
Learn more about creating the right SharePoint user experience for your organization by contacting Withum.