Users Aren’t The Only People In Your Software

I’m all for a healthy focus on HCI (Human-Computer Interaction), UCD (User-Centered Design), and UX (User eXperience). (See my post about role-play centered design, for example.)

However, some insight gets lost when we think that only “end users” interact with our software, and only their experience needs to be polished.

With enterprise software, it’s common for lots of people in the customer’s value chain to interact with the software to one degree or another. Perhaps IT specialists use the software every day, but need to provide upper management with periodic reports or dashboards. If so, those touchpoints with upper management are also a form of human-computer interaction, and also deserve attention. What about the CIO who is deeply aware of C-level pressures to reduce costs in his organization? He has to somehow justify each line item in his budget. The enterprise software that gives him a convenient, compelling cost savings report is making a savvy UX move. How about the evaluators that see the product before a purchase decision is made? Does their experience matter?

It’s not just the consumer side of the value chain that’s studded with interesting people. On the producer side, dev and test engineers interact with the software all the time. Although their convenience is not the highest consideration, an utter disregard for their use cases can sap team morale and productivity. Less obviously, but perhaps more importantly, you have interactions between the software and your support team, your marketing team, the executives that sponsor the dev budget for the product, and so forth. If you’re doing SaaS, you’ve got infrastructure/datacenter staff. If you’re building an app, you may have content creators or maintainers. All of these people matter.


Action Item

List 3 people besides end users that interact with your software in important ways. How well does your software communicate with them and satisfy their need to be productive and drive business value?

9 thoughts on “Users Aren’t The Only People In Your Software

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