January 13, 2016

User Experience and User Interface Design is Key for IT Companies

Technology has been a driving force in our lives since early industrial breakthroughs. Historically, people were astonished with technical innovations and were eager to learn how to use new devices; for example, how to drive a car, turn on a washing machine, and even how to navigate a TV remote control.

Even to this day, there are user manuals for nearly all devices and web applications.  Except now, like the evolution of technology, the majority of technical manuals are available for electronic consumption, on the Internet, in online documentation or HELP systems.  

Time is so valuable that most internet users will not spend time nor care to spend time reading through an online user’s guide for a new service or software.

Today, the average time that a user spends on a single web page is measured in seconds.  Many times, those few, precious seconds are the only opportunity a business owner has to keep their users on the web page.  But, how to best achieve this?  How do you keep your user interested in your website or web application if there are plenty of competing websites that provide similar content online?  Perhaps the real question is how do you make your first-time, end user experience more pleasant and compelling? 

How is a user led through a product?

Thanks to User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) designers, we don’t need to think too much about these difficult questions. The field of expertise of UX and UI designers is to create an appealing and easy-to-use product, where a user guide is unnecessary.  In other words, UX and UI designers create the logical paths, which make the user experience pleasurable and intuitive.
A good UX example is one in which a new user can figure out the basics, and then fairly quickly accept the intermediate capabilities of a product.  This experience usually comes from a well-planned user interface, or how a user interacts with a given product.  Control, configuration and intuitiveness all play into usability, whether a product is overwhelming with too many options, or frustrating because it is too simple and lacks options.

Examples of intuitive and overwhelming with options Sign Up forms.

The tricky part of UI and UX design is striking the right balance with content.  Sometimes, in order to be more attractive to customers (or end-users) we include too much content.  It is important to respect our customers and provide them everything they need to know, but, you must also be careful not to cross the line.  Too much content can annoy the end user, or in the worst case scenario - scare them away.  A best practice for content, is to keep things as simple as they should be.

Too much text might lead to confusion.

The user should feel at ease when using a product. Good UI should be a well written story, with pacing, revealing and developing that actually guides a new user through its nuances and depths. The user must be led, but not forced. They should be free to experiment, but not abandoned altogether. This leads to a good user experience.

Ask for too much information and you’ll just come off as intrusive.

Respect and follow the technology improvements
Since technology has become so complex and capable of doing so much more, the challenge is to try to present all that capability in an easily digestible manner. Technology accelerates and develops at an ever increasing rate, and unless we really dedicate ourselves to well designed UI and UX, all that technology will be in vain, because fewer and fewer individuals will be willing to use it.

Respect technology improvements and adjust your product accordingly.

Independent of how expressive and intuitive your site or product is, you also need to consider the user portability factor and the responsiveness of your UX and UI.  Today, when we think about web improvements, the first thing that crosses our minds is responsive design (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/01/guidelines-for-responsive-web-design/), which allows our site or product design to be adaptive to all devices, whether on desktop or mobile.

Progress is the only constant.

Technology continues to drive UX and UI designs. Just to give you an example, several years ago the big technology push was customization, so our CCBill developers created a successful product that internally we called JPost.  To our merchants, this was our User Management and Payment system that allowed CCBill merchants to create their own scripts, and upload them to our systems, in order to tie their websites and end-users to CCBill’s backend systems.  As the years passed, the front end components of this once super successful project started looking dated and began to lose their innovative, esthetic brilliance.

Project by CCBill – Payment System JPost- OLD look

Because CCBill is always looking for improvements in order to provide the best possible service to our Merchants, we released the responsive version of our Payment forms with a more modern or ‘fresh’ look (http://blog.ccbill.com/2013/12/ccbill-releases-new-responsive-and.html)  in order to provide our Merchants and their consumers with a better user experience and more portability on different devices.

Luckily, our CCBill UX architects were searching for even more usable improvements, and achieved an even better experience with improved functionality with our FlexForms system (https://www.ccbill.com/online-merchants/payment-processing/flexforms.php). FlexForms is a, simpler solution to set up and serve CCBill payment forms to your customers. FlexForms are very user-friendly and provide a more comfortable and flexible experience.  Customization of the forms is simple and to the point, providing an enhanced user experience.

Project by CCBill – Payment System FlexForms

We continue to add new functionality to Flexforms, to allow our Merchants to instantly reach their consumers globally, with one smart form (http://blog.ccbill.com/2015/08/flexforms-latest-updates-include-sepa.html).  If you are a CCBill merchant and have not switched to the new FlexForm system, you can quickly set up a FlexForm in the CCBill Admin now https://www.ccbill.com/FlexFormsFast and see for yourself how the FlexForm experience can improve your business.

We are always searching for more. What about you?

Even if you have created an appealing interface for the time being, you should train yourself to never stop searching for improvements. Not because you did something wrong, but because you are aware of the pace in which technology advances, and how that affects your opportunity to provide your users with the best experience.

The time when a user needed to ‘learn’ how to use a product, before using it, is a thing of the past. Times have changed and technology has evolved.  Before you decide to create a product, think carefully and consult with a UX and UI designer. Otherwise, do not be surprised if your users find your product difficult to use, or even refuse to use it, simply because it is user-unfriendly, despite its usefulness.

Jelena Zdero
UI designer at CCBill