As I had mentioned in my previous note let us start looking at each aspect of the Modern Suite in a bit more detail. For those who did not get a chance to read the main article here is the link again —
I suggest we start from the top i.e. the Consumption of services / capabilities offered by the new suite.
I was not born in the age of mainframes and punch cards so I do not know how tedious the initial systems were but I can imagine they were not fun to use. Then came windows environment with GUIs etc. but I do not want to give a history of how User Interfaces have evolved over time. That is something which is well documented. We should rather focus on how a Personalised and Consistent experience is essential for the new suite.
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder
Simple is difficult
We have heard many such statements but I have tried to outline the expectations from the system in the following points —
- I believe the system needs to interact with the user in a manner which she is used to and not force her to learn multiple new paradigms
- The information needs to be consistent
- The user most probably does not want to be intimidated by the system. Probably all the users know that the system is smart but they do not want to be reminded about it all the time
- Most of the people want a simple experience. If I want to know about the crazy things possible in the future I like to watch Star Wars or the Blade Runner not struggle with a weather app which I use to know the day temperature
- Wacky is not always good but simple is always good
- If possible, users will want to engage with a system in multiple possible familiar ways
- However, whatever way is used to engage, the consistency of information exchanged needs to be maintaned
The user experience exposed through the Modern Suite needs to keep the above expectations under consideration. Hence following can be concluded —
- A Modern Suite needs to support multiple interaction channels. Consumers should be able to interact with the system in their own context. For a task which is repetitive and something which they have become familiar with a classic desktop environment which is TAB driven might be more appropriate than a fancy mobile app.
- In addition to multiple interaction channels the Modern Suite should be able to support multiple personas. Personas would mean different types of users from the perspective of roles, needs of engagement to also behavioural or demographic patterns
- There needs to be an endeavor to ensure a consistent information flow across the various channels as long as the transaction is valid. In other words omni-channel engagement would be essential for a Modern Suite
- It is imperative that the overall experience of using the Suite needs to be holistic. Whatever be the technological foundation the user must get a similar “look and feel” when using different functions from the Modern Suite
- The user experience needs to keep pace with the engagement paradigms in vogue. If most of the users engage with systems with voice activated commands they will expect the similar experience with the Modern Suite too
- Finally, whatever be the technology or the channel it is imperative that the experience increases the efficiency of the users and not be-hinders them
A Modern Suite will support typical interaction paradigms. They can be listed down as —
- Insight to Action views — analytical views with drill-down capabilities to respond instantly to needs
- Search — to find needed information
- Trial — to explore new functionalities
- Monitoring — to provide an overview over various functions
- Administrative — do transactional and configuration activities
- Dashboards and Reports — information sharing
- Learning — embedded and non-embedded experience sharing
- Collaboration — engage with stakeholders
It can be perceived that based on user research and studies certain channels might be seen to be better suited for a specific interaction paradigm e.g. a voice activated screen might seen to be better suited for most of the normal tasks while a desktop biased screen with many data elements might be seen to be more suited for administrative tasks.
The following channels would definitely need to be considered by a Modern Suite —
- Desktop / Laptop based screens either native apps or browser based apps
- Mobile Phone Apps
- Tablet Apps
- Smart Watch Apps
- Voice activated screens
- Virtual Reality systems
In the end the more the Modern Suite blends into the normal behavioural patterns for a user the more effective it will be. This is what I define as SMART — A system which understands the user and makes the user better at the things she wants to do in the environment she is familiar with.