When I got up this morning, my coffee was already brewed and waiting for me. As I was driving to work, the green signal arrow let me take a left before the oncoming traffic moved forward. When I visited the ATM at lunch, all I had to do was insert my card, have it returned to me, type in my PIN, and then my money came out. At some point, someone made the decision to give me (the user) my card first, then my money. When did that change happen? Who decided to make that change?
When did Netflix start to cue up the next episode of my favorite binge show while the current episode is ending? Most likely, a user experience (UX) designer did the research and made that change. Whether we realize it or not, user experience is all around us, and the impact it has on our daily lives depends on whether it’s good or bad user experience.
The History of User Experience
User experience has its origins in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). HCI can be defined as “the means of communication between a human user and a computer system.” Put more simply, it’s people plus technology. John Norman and Jakob Nielsen from Nielsen Norman Group explain that, "user experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
All of us interact with technology every day, as inside of the coffee machines, the light signals, and the ATMs are little computers. This is where user experience comes in—the connection between technology and humans.
The experience a person has with an object, product or service can either be good or bad. When done correctly, the experience is easy, seamless or barely noticeable. When done poorly, however, the interaction tends to make us frustrated, impatient, even angry. This good or bad experience is typically determined by a UX designer. A UX designer’s role is directly involved in the process of making a product useful and enjoyable for its users—or trying to, at least.
Why Does User Experience Matter to MSPs?
As part of the UX design team at Continuum, I live and breathe good user experience and its impact on our products, services, and MSP partners. It’s our job to empathize with our partners and consider the daily actions they take to support their clients.
Our partners spend all day, every day using Continuum’s ITSupport Portal. And, a good or bad user experience with this portal can have a direct impact on productivity.
For example, when an end-user calls and needs help with their desktop, how quickly can the MSP find that device? If it takes five clicks or if there is no clear path, the client waits, the tech gets frustrated, and the issue remains unresolved. Overall, this experience is a failure.
For the average MSP, extra clicks mean more time spent on that one client. Extra clicks translate into longer time on task and extended time-to-resolution. But what if we can reduce the number of clicks to only two? How much time would that save our partner? As a UX team, this is our goal: to create an experience that will increase our partners’ efficiency and productivity.
Is it the end of the world if I have to click to brew my coffee, or wait for oncoming traffic before taking my left, or find the next episode of my favorite show? No, but these small moments add up on a daily basis, just as it does for our MSPs.
Continuum’s UX team is working to improve these interactions in the ITSupport Portal, thereby improving the experience and most importantly, increasing the productivity of our partners. Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I’ll be sharing some exciting changes in the ITSupport portal!
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By Gretchen Hoffman