In Part 2, we discussed the concept of SaaS and universal design & service liberalization challenges for design. In this post, we continue discussing additional challenges that designers need to be cognizant of to create optimal user experiences that meet a wider mass appeal.
The challenge is to think of ways to keep the interest of expert users and allow them to grow but at the same time nurture less knowledgeable users. Reaching that design balance will be the challenge of user experience as we think of the delivery of one solution for all.
Not only are we going to attract a new user group, we are also going to interact with users through a plethora of devices and modalities. These new users often come from a myriad of desktop applications; all with different terminology and interaction styles. The challenge for designers is to continue to support experts but also provide a user experience that offers a fast learning path for new users, no matter their previous software experience or the devices and interaction from which they will access our solutions.
The Value of Intangibles: User Financial considerations
In the context of Autodesk business, many users are interested in Media & Entertainment creation suites and/or individual products, but cannot justify the cost of purchasing professional level software as they would only use it for a small portion of their work. For many customers the reason to move to SaaS is that it often offers a fee model that does not require heavy upfront investment and can scale as you grow. The lower cost of entry is more likely to attract new users who were previously discouraged by the upfront cost.
From a UX perspective we need to think about what it means to bring a large group of users from disparate applications together and in a short amount of time get them all to be productive using our software.
Multiple vendors, Trust, Collaboration & Social
Overall the user experience is defined by the interaction between the software and the end user, but with cloud applications some new actors enter the relationship. This includes the hosting provider, storage provider, browser provider, and ISP to name a few; all of these aspects influence the user experience.
While we are dependent on 3rd party vendors, the relationship is still between the customer and us. We are therefore responsible for the whole user experience and vendor’s problems reflect directly on us.
Another challenge the UX must address is building confidence in remote storage and processing. User interactions must be quick and responsive and where processing is happening, the user must be made aware and progress indication shown – the user should not be left to guess if the application is simply not responding or has crashed.
Last but not least, as we design we need to remain acutely conscious of the natural human tendency to collaborate and connect. While each design project dictates different levels and definitions of “social”, this is an ever present element and the new mainstay of web services today. In a nutshell, the user experience challenge as we move to a SaaS model can be summarized in the following guiding principles: