One of the things I’ve been thinking about more and more lately, is somehow enabling the next generation user experience for business software.
For far too long, business applications have been built for businesses, not for the people in the businesses that use them.
Rather than approaching the design with the goal of enabling the best, most enjoyable experience for the individual, many ISVs have kept their designs inside the box, and focused solely on the needs of the business.
I may be missing something (and I’m sure I’ve not seen nearly everything), but I’ve yet to see an application that really breaks the mold. One that presents data in a totally new way, or enables a totally new experience for the user. Or one that incorporates some level of fun and enjoyment in the mundane tasks of creating service tickets, accounts, invoices, activity notes, meetings…etc.
If we look at sites/apps such as facebook, twitter, youtube and others, the sites that’s user bases have grown virally at an incredible pace, the three words that immediately come to mind are: personal, networked, and addictive
Personal – All of the above sites present information to the user that is personal and important to the individual user. This is similar to dashboards we see in many business apps. However, that is one single place in the application that is personal. Some applications also provide themes, but not to the extent that some of the social networkings sites provide customization of the overall look.
Networked – All of the above are web based applications, that leverage their network of users to create their core value. This is something I’ve written about in the past, and now Salesforce is just beginning to take this to the next level with their new Salesforce-to-Salesforce capabilities.
Addictive – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube… they are all addictive. They have something that makes people want to use them. However, that something can be different for different people, but I venture to say that what ever that something is, it is a direct result of those applications leveraging the network of users as the underlying core value of their offering.
Aside from Salesforce’s recent moves, another great example that is more on the design side is Entellium, and their Rave CRM product. Paul Johnston, Entellium’s CEO talks about the “Gamer Influenced Design” approach here on his blog.
Phil Wainewright also talks about Rave, and the concept of gaming elements applied to business software here.
I’d love to hear what others think, and if you can point me in the direction of some applications that you think are truly breaking the mold, I’d greatly appreciate it.