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The Consumerization of IT Means You Need a Better UI

There’s just no excuse for a bad UI in your mobile app anymore. Business users expect seamless, consumer-grade experiences on every screen.

Your app’s user interface, or UI, matters more than ever now that employees are bringing their consumer devices to work). Ten years ago, road warriors with early-version Palm Treos and Blackberrys would put up with anything in exchange for having mobile capabilities. Anyone who has ever retrieve email via CSD (circuit switched data) on 2G mobile will be able to recall the, what now seem crazy, lengths and long waits we went to access work data on the go. But today, people expect more, and a bad UI will kill you.

Another family member called on my technical services (happens all the time). I donated an old Android phone to her, and she asked for help with adding her contacts. Given the keyboard on the Android is challenging at best, I suggested we use a Gmail service via a laptop so we could make use a full-size physical keyboard. We logged into her Gmail account to add the contacts, but the UI was so bad that it took a dreadfully long time to find them. If I hadn’t known for sure they were there, I would have given up. It was so bad I was actually getting wistful for Lotus Notes—okay, not quite that bad but you get my point.

If you think I’m exaggerating, go see for yourself. Log in to Gmail and put yourself in the shoes of a novice user. Now where can you add contacts? I’ll give a clue: you won’t see a helpful tab or button with the word ‘Contacts’ on it.

The moral of the story is: UI is critical. If you don’t get it right, it’s going to hurt you. (Unless you’re Google, but even then, it’s not helping.)

Making a mobile service is not about shrinking each screen to phone size. (Even Samsung Galaxy Mega size.) UIs designed for a keyboard and mouse don’t work on a phone. Maybe you’ve gotten away with it so far, but people are ever more demanding.

Besides, a great user experience should just be about not causing pain to your customers. It’s the key to increasing their productivity.

SAP (my employer) has two offerings for SAP customers looking to create unique, tailored experiences for businesses. SAP Screen Personas is software that allows you to personalize and simplify your UI without writing any code. UX Services is a custom development service that can help build a new, competitively differentiating user experience on top of your company’s existing SAP and non-SAP business applications.

Read more about them both here.