How Better UX Design Makes for Happier Customers
Ever been paralyzed by too many options in the cereal aisle? We want choices, but the more choices we have, the longer it takes us to process these choices. You can spend a ridiculously long time selecting a breakfast item, which is not a critical life decision. Hick’s Law explains this experience. The more stimuli (or choices) a person faces, the longer it takes to make a decision.
Grocery stores often display cereals in a way that can drive more sales—placing certain types of cereals in groups for target buyers or making sure the colorful, sweet options with cartoon and superhero images are at eye level for a 5-year-old. By grouping or categorizing cereals, the store is unwittingly also speeding the selection process. Additionally, if the grocery store puts the healthy, but boring, not-impulse-driven options somewhere difficult to see (high up, very low down, or in another aisle with the “special” options), the placement obscures your options, also speeding up the selection process. Categorizing choices and obscuring complexity are common practices not just in grocery stores. For product designers (including software UI/UX designers), these are tools to be used to help people avoid sluggish decisions or actions.
Enterprise User Experience (UX) Design
We’ve shared Arena’s design principles for UI/UX in the past. Finding ways to provide better user experiences is important and software teams use these same methods grocery stores employ. At Arena, we use both categorizing choices and obscuring complexity to improve user experience.
Improving User Experiences Over Time
What is Arena doing? Let’s take a look at a few examples of progressions in Arena UX where we are pushing to keep pace with technology, expectations, and expanding complexity.
Search is a basic requirement for any software today. Google and its ilk have forever changed how we perceive search as users.
Arena in the 2000s provided standard database search operations—which object type to search, where to search, and fields to specify or exclude certain text.
Standard Search, Arena 2000s
Arena in the 2010s provided a faster way to build complex searches as well as expanded search with and/or structures. This gave users the ability to easily select from field values defined in their workspace. We also introduced the Any search option during this time, coupled with the ability to use and/or structures.
Complex Search, Arena 2010s
Of course, we also made progress in the UI itself, keeping pace with technologies and how people wanted to interact with the application. As Arena expanded the platform, we needed to provide ways to get to all these new areas, such as Quality.
Today, Arena has Quick search within the types of objects—search all items, any attribute for anything, and you get back results. You also have your recently visited items, recent searches, and saved searches—all the things browsers have taught us to expect because they make our work faster.
Quick Search Across All Attributes, Arena Today
Additionally, we see a streamlined UI that mirrors the experience most of us have with applications today. If you want to read more about four key design principles we follow for UI, see this great interview with our product design creatives.
We continue to find ways to make search easy and powerful. In an upcoming release, basic and advanced search will come together to create an integrated search experience for users. This is a great example of obscuring complexity, like in the cereal aisle, by providing fewer initial options so the user can perform a basic search fast or expand into a more complex search all within the same window.
Concept of Integrated and Advanced Search, Arena Future*
Arena will also feature a global search across all objects in the future. Global search is a function that provides a user the fastest way to find any type of object that matches the search query. This is what is often called federated search in the database world because while a seemingly simple presentation to the user, the software must search many types of objects to return the matches. This type of search is great when you don’t know what type of object you are looking for—or trying to find multiple types of objects in one go.
Where might we go beyond this? Our platform is always evolving, and we are continually investigating ways to improve this most common user operation for everyone.
A subprocess is something we do every day in applications and when it works well, we don’t even see it for what it is. In software of yesteryear, clicking to start a subprocess usually resulted in a redirect to a new space or even a launch of a new browser tab or window (depending on if the application was browser or desktop software).
In the past, subprocesses would often be launched into a separate window, obscuring the original action completely.
Auto-Numbering, Arena 2000s
Using recent technologies, Arena today gives users easier, more contextual ways to complete these subprocesses from guided flows to slide-out action panels. You stay connected to the bigger-picture work.
Today, the auto-numbering window supplies a more connected experience to the new item process, giving the user visual context.
Auto-Numbering, Arena Today
The Add Files action panel is an example of slide-out action panels, providing context of where the user is while providing a dedicated space to complete the subprocess.
Add Files Action Panel, Arena Today
Action panels can be used for more complex activities, such as applying a requirement to an item, as seen below.
Apply a Requirement to an Item, Arena Today (Spring 2021)
With future updates to Arena, we’ll extend action panels to create more single-page experiences. With a systematic evaluation of the processes and subprocesses, we look for ways to improve each of these work branches where you need to go do something else—and maybe come back to where you started or end up somewhere else.
The future of what we have planned for auto-numbering is an example of this continuous improvement process. With auto-numbering embedded in the new-item create experience itself, we are using the categorizing approach with drop-down selections to let the user drive from higher levels and speed up the whole process.
Auto-Numbering Embedded in New Item Process, Arena Future*
Jobs Well Done
We look to consumer UX design for inspiration—the apps on our phones and the many websites and programs we use in our personal lives. Our consumer interactions change our expectations and awareness of what is possible. While consumer UX and enterprise UX are not equal given the use cases are not identical, we can find things to bring over into Arena.
Arena enables complex processes, big decisions, intense collaboration, and ultimately valuable work to companies. Our users deal with nonlinear work processes, roles, security needs, audits, and regulations, and many, many teams. We still can and should have the aim consumer UX has to develop a product that requires as little handholding as possible. This doesn’t mean making it overly simple, though.
We can’t make developing and commercializing a complex IoT-connected device or lifesaving cancer treatment platform simple. But we can strive to create consistent, recognizable experiences in software that removes barriers. Your work is complex. Our goal is to make it easier for you to get that work done well.
*Yes, the disclaimer must be made. The information regarding possible future releases is not intended to be part of any commercial offer and is provided solely for informational purposes. Such information does not in any way constitute commitments, promises, or legal obligations upon which customers may or should rely.