SAP has promoted SAP Fiori UX as their new UX paradigm by SAP towards a better User Experience of SAP solutions. SAPUI5 is the UI technology which will be used to build the user interfaces. In the past 1 year of projects built using SAPUI5, I have noticed one important aspect. I observed that, even though there is major shift in the technology adoption of Javascript and HTML5 by SAP there is very little change in the solutions and mindset of implemented solutions. Most of the solutions still follow a set paradigm towards user requirements. One factor which has contributed towards this lethargy in UX design is the SAPUI5 patterns.

SAPUI5 patterns are UI templates which propose a design for common set of issues. These UI design templates simplify the UI design. They also ensure that there is consistency in UI design for enterprises. These patterns also help in customer confidence in addressing the UI requirements. However, in the process of standardizing we compromise on the improtant aspect of UX design, which is the User experience. We totally ignore the need to research the expectations of the actual users. To any set of user requirements we restrict the screens to matser-detail or full screen detail layout. UI innovation is only in terms of having used SAPUI5. Apart from the technology itself, there is hardly any strategy/innovation in the UI design.

In all my projects on SAPUI5 so far, the requirements are wire-framed keeping these templates in perspective. due to a lack of structued approach towards UX, we are stuck with SAPUI5 templates running on SAP Portal with in-coherent CSS designs. It all looks like a bad mashup of technologies.

User research is an important factor missing in our proposal and requirement document. Instead of few customers/managers determining the business need, we need to arrive at the broad set of requirements of the intended audience. We are yet to follow a standard methodology to capture the user requirements and that in my view is the lacunae in the UX design. If we are not sure of the actual user’s expectation, how can one say that UX design fulfills its purpose.

Design experience is lacking in UI designers. The evolution and exposure to UI designs and graphic technologies is a necessity in having creative and exciting User interfaces. The emphasis should be on skill to beautify the screens would greatly help is modelling the screens.

In all, we have been hearing a lot, talking a lot and feel like implementing a lot of aspects of UX but we are still scratching the surface. Its time to dig our heels and get into the detail of the UX design.

Look forward to your response and opinions.

Thank you.

Regards,

Sharath

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  1. Paul Hardy

    SAP is between a rock and a hard place here.

    For almost twenty years they have been attacked because the UI for SD, MM and FI are utterly different from each other, there is no consistency in SAP screen designs, thus making training a nightmare.

    Now they try to move to a different UI with everything looking the same, and then they attacked for that as well.

    i.e. everything different – that’s BAD

    everything the same – that’s BAD

    That being said, I understand your point – with UI5 the idea is that applications are tailored to a very small set of users, as opposed to traditional SAP GUI applications aimed at everybody.

    The smaller your target audience, the less relevant templates become….

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    1. Sharath M G Post author

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you for response.

      I do not blame the SAP. Blaming the knife for the crime is not the message in this blog.

      As a programmer, I am delighted with the path SAP is taking with UI5 and Fiori. However, I am left  frustrated with solution providers who stick to thesafe path of templates and decieve the customers from the  SAP’s vision.

      I love templates but by starting to thinking through that prism restricts our  creativity. So the blame is on us. 😛

      Regards,

      Sharath

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  2. Simon Kemp

    Hi Sharath,

    I am going to disagree with you here (or maybe I misunderstand you) but I don’t think that having UI templates should hamper your UX Design.

    Templates can provide a starting point for prototyping but your user research should come well before the prototyping stage. If during user testing you find that a certain UI design isn’t working well for the users you can always change it (easier to do in design than development or later). I am hopeful that “Splash” will help non UX designers understand some of the processes and tools you can use to follow a user centred design approach. For SAP to scale UX there needs to be accelerators like this IMO.

    Thanks for posting on this interesting topic,

    Simon

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    1. Sharath M G Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Its nice to hear from you, after a long time.

      I agree with you on that aspect of prototyping benefits with design patterns.

      I was reading an interesting book “Six Circles” and you point is well captured in the following excerpt: “Design patterns are certainly a start point for an effective design but without an appreciation of context and user behaviour we have a danger of building solutions that are prescribed without an eye on the optimal and most creative solutions“.

      I will give Splash a try 🙂

      Regards,

      Sharath

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  3. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Not sure if in this case the existence of templates hinders creativity more than existence of, say, standard Smartforms affects the customers ability to create more attractive custom forms…

    Did the projects you’ve mentioned have an actual UI designer?

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    1. Sharath M G Post author

      Good question 🙂

      The UI designers need to step up and push themselves in coming up with UI designs.

      Additionally, I find that the lacunae is in the User research and its effective usage. Identifying right sets of users and asking the right questions is missing.

      Regards,

      Sharath

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  4. barry neaves

    I’ve been around UX for the last three years on various projects.

    Whilst SAP provide the toolset for the job, the only limitations I have found have been down to imagination and creativity of the people involved.

    Some projects you will get the UX designer who create the wireframes alongside the client, yet others will be happy with what they are given. Functionality over the aesthetically pleasing.

    However using Design Smart workshops, you can get the right people involved and empowered by the process so you end up with something much closer to what they want, need and will ultimately use.

    The UX Patterns can provide ideas, but ultimately they can also give you a leg up to develop something quickly, thus reducing cost.  Clients with more money and time often opt for something far more bespoke.

    In my humble opinion, developers are not designers.  I am guilty of this.  I create websites that work and function well, yet look like a bag of spanners.

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    1. Sharath M G Post author

      Hi Barry,

      I agree with your point completely. As developers, we are focussed on ensuring the functionality and unfortunately do not think like designers.

      in my experience, I have tried to insert design at middle of implementation. Also the design ideas are neither documentted at the beginning nor discussed in detail with the end customer.

      So, in the end we attempt for some fancy tricks and when things do not go our way, we revert to ensuring the functionality being delivered to client and blame the managers for not estimating the effort for design.

      Only if we start with design considerations to be incorporated, can we even hope for it to be implemented. Right now, its all talk.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Regards,

      Sharath

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