The singular most important factor in software adoption is ease of use.

In order for any new technology to succeed, people need to form a habit and make a change in their current behavior—and changing human behavior doesn’t happen on its own. This requires each and every piece of software in your tech stack to be intuitive in design and purposeful with its mission.

When it comes to buying said software, you’ll be hard pressed to find any vendor that won’t tell you their product is easy to use. We hear it so often it’s become marketing hyperbole.

But do we really know what “ease of use” means?

Let’s start from the top.

What Is Ease of Use?

If you actually explore this term, you’ll probably find that there’s much more that comes into play than just usability.

Yes, a big component is the amount of effort required to use a tool, but it’s also about how easy it is to incorporate that tool into a daily workflow, how seamlessly it fits in with the other tools in your tech stack, and perhaps most importantly, the ease of doing business with the company providing that tool.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) publishes research and recommendations covering human interaction with computers and software. ISO standard 9241 provides a usability definition as:

“The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”

More simply, it boils down to how easy is it for your team to get the job done.

Factors That Determine Software Usability

When it comes to defining easy-to-use, it’s not a simple thing. Every person that will use software will come at it from a different knowledge base and comfort level. A lot of whether your employees will deem something is easy to use will depend on their skill level prior to using it.

Easy-to-use software, as it turns out, is in the minds of the user as well.

Whitney Quesenbery is an expert on usability design.  She breaks down the components that make up ease-of-use by evaluating the five E’s (Effective, Efficient, Engaging, Error Tolerant, and Easy to Learn).

  • Efficient
    How much time, clicks, or page views does it take to complete routine tasks?
  • Effective
    How accurately tasks can be complete and how often errors are produced?
  • Engaging
    Will users be satisfied or frustrated using the application?
  • Error Tolerant
    What happens when users encounter problems, errors, or need help?
  • Easy to Learn
    How will rookies and experts be able to efficiently navigate the software and perform the necessary tasks?

The Business Value of Prioritizing Functionality and UI/UX

Workplace productivity grows when your employees understand how to use your company software and tech to do their jobs. The inverse is true as well. Complex software, poorly designed software,  and a lack of training and support can lead to frustrated employees.

What is UX design?  
UX (User Experience) design focuses on the entire experience the user has with the software. It includes the way a product is designed for user experience, making for an efficient, effective, and enjoyable experience.

What is UI design?
UI (User Interface) design focuses on the look and feel of the software.

How do UX and UI work together?
UX design will decide the software needs a form or a button to complete a task.  UI design will decide what it will look like and how it will fit into the overall design. Poor UX design or poor UI design can also lead to frustrations and hurt employee engagement and adoption.