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The importance of user interface design

Sabine Gillert Products & Technology

What do employees see when they sit down and start working with a business software solution? Is it the streamlined display facilitating simple functionality they've come to expect from modern technology or is it an incomprehensible mix of jargon and needless buttons?

Finding software that's easy to use should be a high priority for any company wanting to make the most out of modern technology. However, this is especially true for recruiting and staffing professionals. These individuals need to manage massive amounts of data, relating to everything from candidates and schedules to job openings and marketing initiatives. They don't want bulky designs and unnecessary features getting in the way. A practical, simple user interface prevents common mistakes, speeds up daily activities and ensures new procedures start off right.

Problems during implementation
The design of a system's user interface is critical to software success. No matter what expectations decision-makers hold for technology, goals won't be reached if employees are uncomfortable or hampered by confusing, redundant tools.

Complicated interface design hinders company success and frustrates users. Complicated interface design hinders company success and frustrates users.

The Office of Finance Business shared Forrester research to explain why a fairly large number of business software implementation projects fail to reach their desired objectives. One of the most common problems was confusion about available products, with half of businesses studied stating they were unclear on costs, adoption schedules and system functionality. This led to over a third of end users unable to adapt to new tools.

As failure rates increase, so do the number of organizations looking for specialized or customized options, according to InfoQ. Many companies make it easier for managers and employees to implement new solutions by choosing products designed specifically for their industries or by working with software consultants to help design a simplified interface. If a business chooses the right product, it can limit software solutions to the few features the company actually needs, such as applicant tracking systems.

Ongoing concerns
A complicated or impractical software interface could be an existing problem within an organization. This may be caused by legacy systems being unable to keep up with new technology or never working the way employees wanted. An inefficient user interface slows down operations and causes stress for daily workers. However, employees may not always complain about interface problems.

If an organization doesn't stress communication or provide chances for staff members to send feedback, workers will either suffer in silence or find a solution on their own. Smashing Magazine, a Web design publication, reported employees that don't like the interface of internal systems will perform tasks using more convenient consumer options.

Instead of creating documents in recruiting software, users may produce first drafts in Google Docs. When internal communication channels are clunky or slow, employees prefer to talk to each other through social media platforms. The problem with using a variety of systems is that work isn't unified and it's hard to enforce internal standards.

"Employees expect simplicity from technology."

Why commercial options are popular
TechCrunch said easy-to-use interfaces are a major commodity in the modern business market. Companies compete to provide the most convenient solution to send important paperwork, book a hotel room or arrange a delivery. The massive demand for push button solutions forces software and Web developers to constantly upgrade and streamline their products, so employees expect simplicity from technology.

Industry-specific software is often a best choice for business buyers because developers better recognize these clients' particular needs. Facebook is popular for communication because it was specifically designed for chatting and sharing.

Recruiting and staffing agencies need a software interface that provides employees with the functionality for their specific tasks and doesn't waste time on superfluous features. It's especially effective if the designer has a history of working with industry feedback and making updates in response to customer demands. By providing a simple centralized solution, users get the interface they need and companies receive complete visibility of all activities.

Employee buy-in
Companies have to care for their employees as much as they care for their candidates. It's not uncommon for staffing firms to prioritize simple sign-up or communication procedures to attract the most talented jobseekers. Organizations also need streamlined, intuitive software tools to encourage the best performance from their workers.

Managers and decision-makers should try to use existing tools themselves and see where obstacles arise. When implementing new technology, employee interviews are essential to proper selection. Businesses have to know what features staff members find necessary and what would just get in the way. While employees may not be technology experts, they should be able to speak about the interface designs they like to use as consumers.

No matter how managers include employees in the staffing software selection process, the Harvard Business Review said there will always be holdouts to change. This is where simplicity is essential. If company leaders interview workers about the improvements they want and then show exactly how easy it is to receive results during training, it eliminates common causes of concern and sets daily users up for success.