My recent search the Apple App Store returned more than 3,000 results for to-do list management. If you have an iPhone or iPad, take a quick scroll through the first 30 and I bet you’re drawn to the ones that look simple and straightforward. Apps like Wunderlist, Clear, and TeuxDeux stand out from the crowd. We’re naturally drawn to them.
Now take a look at your desktop. How many applications would you classify as simple? Probably not many and that’s a problem. My definition of frustrating: When it takes you longer to figure out how to perform a task than it takes to actually perform it.
For those of us that grew up with technology, the jump from the consumer-oriented solutions we used through college to enterprise software in the workforce was particularly rough. Students generally operate with two key distinctions from their corporately-employed counterparts. First, if the IT-supplied solution is difficult to use or doesn’t meet their needs, there are next-to-no repercussions for finding and using an alternative. Second, they don’t have IT budgets, so that alternative is usually not an enterprise solution.
Add those together and you’ll realize that many younger people enter the workforce used to simple solutions that are easy to find, easy to implement, and easy to use. They’re truly simple.
Here’s what that means for you. Let’s assume you’ve taken a design thinking approach to make sure a new solution meets the real needs of your employees.
First, the latest solutions are only as good as the awareness you build around them. There’s tremendous inertia to overcome in the enterprise and many people will just assume they’re stuck. They’ll hate the feeling and potentially the job. Second, once they’ve discovered the solution you told them about, its imperative they can start using it quickly. That means no complicated setup instructions that span reams of printed pages. Finally, you’ve invested a lot of resources in bringing the solution to your users. It needs to be simple to use. The promise of technology in the workplace is in simplifying the process. Somewhere along the way, we collectively lost track of that. Simple, well-designed solutions make it easy for your workers, young and more experienced, to think about how to do their jobs better, not how to make it easier to perform tasks in software.