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November 11, 2016

The Importance of an Intuitive User Interface

Cutover is aiming to redefine enterprise user experience with its simple, modern interface and we pride ourselves on our product having a very short learning curve. However, Cutover’s user interface (UI) is very different from the typical enterprise software that our clients have previously used, so how do we keep it intuitive while continuing to innovate?

The current landscape

In enterprise software, the incentive to build products that users love can often be lost in a drive towards maximizing features and minimizing cost. Software is typically mandated by management, meaning that end users may not have much involvement in choosing their tools and simply have to use what they are supplied with.

However, there is a different trend with modern consumer or small business web applications where the end users are usually the purchasers. Procurement and security processes can be much simpler and quicker due to a less regulated environment; this means it is much easier for end users to switch when they don’t like something. This also leads to a lower barrier to entry for new software providers. Apps can be installed and uninstalled on a whim. Therefore, in these cases, a good UI gives a significant competitive advantage, playing a much more important role in sales and the retention of customers. This is perhaps why consumer UIs have generally evolved far beyond many of their enterprise counterparts.

At Cutover, we don’t believe that enterprise software should be burdened with a less evolved UI. When designing Cutover, a key objective from the start was to build a product that users at all levels actually wanted to use.

What makes a product intuitive and why is it important to Cutover?

Intuitive design is all about creating a product that is easy to understand and that people can learn to use quickly, with minimal instruction. It is especially important that Cutover is intuitive because of the context in which it is used.

The critical events that Cutover is typically used for can be incredibly stressful and involve long, irregular working hours. It is therefore important that the interface is free of distractions and important information is surfaced clearly, especially because users often have to make time-sensitive and high-risk decisions based on the data shown within Cutover. The interface needs to be helpful and easy to use even for someone who is very tired or under a lot of pressure.

Traditional enterprise software does contain some expected behaviors and we are keen not to alienate our customers.  We have worked hard to find a way to leverage modern technology and new UI techniques while still making our product easy to use. This involves finding a delicate balance between following familiar patterns and conventions and introducing new elements and behaviors that could potentially confuse users. Understanding who our customers are and what they are used to is essential for creating an interface that is intuitive to them specifically.

How do we make Cutover more intuitive?

Industry experience
A number of people at Cutover have worked within financial services and in technology implementation in the past, which gives them a deep understanding of the industry and the current tools available. We are scratching our own itch in solving a problem that many members of the team have had to deal with themselves, so we are aware of what makes events so difficult and what kind of system we would want to use to solve this.

Internal use
We use Cutover to manage our internal processes and deployments. As our team is constantly using the system that they are building, we are in the unique position of having an internal feedback loop to identify user experience issues before they even leave the office floor.

User involvement
We make a point of regularly holding user groups and individual client feedback sessions. While we have a high-level product roadmap, we aim to react quickly to customer feedback and to prioritize enhancements that are important to our customers. This focus results in a user experience that is constantly being improved and refined, with a significantly faster turnaround than our clients may be used to. This has the added benefit of reducing the load on our support team for common problems.

Rapid prototyping
Our development process is based on quickly iterating and testing ideas. For example, when building a new feature, we try to get it into the hands of a customer in a test environment as quickly as possible, even if it isn’t perfectly complete just yet. This aims to surface potential usability bottlenecks early before too much development time is invested.

A design-led product
At Cutover, design is more than just a ‘skin’ on top of a set of features. Every feature is carefully architected within the context of the overall application, rather than being designed in isolation and then simply “tacked-on”. This ensures that everything we build is part of a coherent ‘whole’ and allows us to add new features in a way that doesn’t detriment user experience.


Chloe Lovatt
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