by Kem-Laurin Kramer & Stephen O'Connell
In Part 1 of this blog post series, we discussed the concept of Cloud-Aware User Experience Thinking and what it means for the traditional UX practice. Cloud-Aware User Experience focuses on the transformed environment of cloud service delivery and how it impacts the overall user experience. In this post, we’ll discuss more areas that need consideration as we design solutions for cloud delivery:
- Understanding the concepts of Software as Service (SaaS);
- Understanding universal design & software service liberalization and the multi-layered impact of web services liberalization and what it means for the changing spectrum of users;
- Understanding the changing expectations and values that users associate with cloud service delivery.
SaaS: From traditional software to SaaS
SaaS (Software as a Service) often refers to an "on-demand" software delivery model in which software and its associated data are hosted on the cloud, as opposed to the traditional mode of delivery, where software was hosted on individual user machines.Today, SaaS is quickly becoming the most common delivery model for application delivery, including Autodesk’s own suite of products. Instead of being confined to their desktops, users can now log in anytime, anywhere and on any device. This also means a gradual departure from the purchase of physically packaged and downloadable software to usage of hosted solutions. Hosted services also come with fewer limitations on such things as cost. Further, SaaS has built-in scalability capabilities for users seeking more flexibility of use.
Universal Design & Service Liberalization Challenges for Design
As technology matures, there is a tendency for initial software complexity to give way to simplicity as the audience broadens. In the automotive world, for example, a good contrast is manual transmission being available for enthusiasts, but automatic transmission being pitched to the mass audiences, with both options allowing end consumers to accomplish the same end goal – the act of driving. In much the same way, service delivery to the cloud is going to broaden our audience; therefore, we must be ready to support users who know what they want to achieve without the burden of committing to months or years of software training. Retaining a wider audience requires that new users can become quickly productive, quickly achieving their goals and having a path to grow their knowledge organically.
The migration to the cloud holds the potential to on-board a wider audience, but we can’t forget, as designers, to maintain the interest of users who may view the widening access as a threat to their jobs. In many cases, end users have used the technological divide as a means of self-identification for work purposes. Much like a developer who may describe himself as a JAVA or C+ developer, the same holds true in the space of 3D, where many certified solution users may have gone through years of training to use a title associated with a product line. However, as we see more software being delivered via cloud services there will be significant changes in how users will see their relationship to software as a whole as well as how we should go about designing appropriate experiences for this technological divide.In Part 3 of the blog we continue on this thread of creating mass appeal user experiences for software cloud delivery as well as some of the other challenges that we will encounter as experience designers.