A recurring theme with Giva software is the ease of use, from a customer perspective, known as the User Experience (UX), as is the case with any great software solution.
Customers buy software to solve a problem, or series of problems, whether that's to increase revenue, make operations more cost effective, do their taxes, or any number of other jobs that need doing.
Transforming the user experience from good to great is no accident. The key to creating a great, intuitive UX is an intimate knowledge of the way customers/users actually use the software.
Software as a Service (SaaS) and other software companies need a map of every point on the user journey. A deliberate, KPI-based plan needs to be actioned to make the design and features as user friendly as possible. Product managers and designers need to understand that when customers buy new software (or start a free trial), there are consideration and adoption phases.
During the initial few weeks or months, getting to know new software can slow productivity. A great user experience makes that worthwhile. The investment of time, effort, and training (not just the amount customers pay) needs to be worth it.
Software needs to be user friendly. Great UX makes that possible, keeps customers happy, and makes them want to keep using new software.
What makes software user friendly?
A user-friendly software experience is the absolute minimum customers/users expect and want.
It's not enough that software is user friendly. In order for software companies to succeed in winning and keeping customers (users), the overall experience needs to be great. It needs to stand out. It needs to get the job done — solve whatever problem/pain points the users were having before they downloaded it.
Customers need to want to keep using it. Software needs to be "sticky", so that people naturally encourage others to buy/download and start using it.
Software companies can put tens of thousands into marketing and sales every month — getting leads into the top of the sales funnel and converting them in the middle and bottom of the funnel, turning them into paying customers/subscribers — all in the attempt to reach the next level of revenue, whether that's $100,00 monthly recurring revenue (MRR), or $100 million annual recurring revenue (ARR).
However, that won't make a difference to profits unless customers/users stay, and keep using the software. If you are losing a percentage of your customers every month (churn), then it's probably not a sales or marketing problem. It's most likely a design and user-experience problem. And it's serious.
That's why the user experience needs to be as good as possible. Good UX isn't good enough. It needs to be great.
The software user experience first and foremost needs to be intuitive.
Why do customers need intuitive software design?
According to Dictionary.com, intuitive means: "Using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning: instinctive."
The definition in the Cambridge dictionary is a little clearer: "Based on feelings rather than facts or proof: an intuitive approach/judgment. Most people have an intuitive sense of right and wrong."
Intuition is gut feeling, a judgment people make about certain situations, and crucially, other people. We have a feeling, make a judgment about someone new, on instinct. Are they a good person? Will I get along with this person? Can I trust them? We don't always get it right, but every judgment and experience is filtered through our own experiences, moral compass, societal framework, and numerous other factors, many difficult to define.
The question is, how can we apply intuitive design to software, and why do customers need software to be intuitive?
In many ways, customers want software to feel familiar. Easy to use. Clear and intuitive. As hard as that is to define, especially from a UX perspective, this makes a huge difference to software companies.
What does intuitive design mean?
Although there's a widely accepted understanding of what intuitive means, there's no equally acceptable and clearly defined definition of "intuitive design."
According to the Interaction Design Foundation, members of an interdisciplinary group, Intuitive Use of User Interfaces, agree that: "intuition is not a feature of design — instead, intuitive use is a characteristic of the interaction process between a specific user and the design. So, if we are to evaluate whether a design is intuitive, we must also think about who will use the design."
Let's consider how to break this down into something UX Designers, Service Designers, and Product Managers can understand and put into practice:
- An "intuitive" and user-friendly product needs to have a great UX.
- Great UX — compared to merely good or passable — is grounded in understanding, deeply, on every level, how users actually use software.
- How software is used depends on why someone purchased it, what problems is it solving, why do they need it? Understanding users is crucial for successfully creating and designing the most intuitive user experience possible.
- All of this is also grounded in comparisons with other software that customers are likely to be familiar with, apps and products that are inherently easy to use, either within their sector, or beyond. For example, accountancy software could be made easy to use based on the same design principles and user experiences that underpin social networks.
How do product managers, designers and developers make software intuitive?
Although "intuition" and "gut feelings" are difficult to incorporate in design templates and the UX of software, this is something product managers, designers and developers need to work hard to achieve.
User feedback (more about that below) is an important part of this process. So is comparing your software to others in the sector(s) you serve. Consider ways the user experience of your software could be made more intuitive and user friendly, especially if there are aspects of the UX that cause users to log out.
Work to fix these problems, and use design sprints to constantly make and then test — using the iterative model — UX design changes. Each time you do this, the user experience will improve.
How do you incorporate user experience and feedback into software design?
Feedback from customers (users) is crucial for getting intuitive user experience right. Product managers and designers need to constantly incorporate user-experience feedback, reviews, and calls with users into design practices.
You can get this data from a number of sources:
- Analytics can show you how users move through a product. The pages and features they spend the most time on, and any problems they encounter within an app/software.
- Reviews and social media brand mentions are also equally useful.
- At the same time, it's always worth speaking to actual customers. Send out surveys. Arrange calls. Incentivize them (with Amazon vouchers, or discounts) to give their honest opinion about what they love about a product, and what can be improved.
Incorporate all of this feedback into design sprints. You don't need to take everything on-board and redesign the whole product. But designers (UX/CX) and developers do need a clear pipeline of information from customers/users to influence UX-focused design changes and improvements.
What are common principles for intuitive design?
Apple products, such as the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, are industry-leading examples of how numerous complex tasks and processes can be made simple, easy to use, and provide an intuitive user interface.
Here are the most common principles that designers should incorporate into UX to make design intuitive:
- Focus on the user: Nothing is more important. Without user-experience inputs, your software will never get better. Constant iterative feedback must be incorporated into design sprints.
- Design consistency: Another really important aspect of great UX is ensuring the design of everything users interact with — including your website — looks and feels the same.
- A natural hierarchy: The way users move through software user interface should naturally flow from an intuitive information hierarchy.
- Usability testing: This is interconnected with the first principle: It all comes back to the user, how they interact with the software, and testing this based on industry-leading best practices.
Key Takeaways: Making Software User Experience (UX) Intuitive
Creating and implementing an intuitive user experience is essential for software companies, especially if you want to grow, increase revenue (MRR and ARR), CLTV, and reduce CAC and churn rates.
A great and intuitive user experience also encourages customers to tell other people about software they're happy using. Intuitive design increases the "stickiness" of a product, naturally encouraging word-of-mouth referrals and warm inbound leads.
Customers/users need to want to use your software. Great UX is a foundational building block of success in software. You need to understand your users, know what they want and need, and what problems your software is overcoming for them. Great UX is an output of that learning process, and intuitive design is integral to your software achieving key business goals, and solving important problems for customers.