Vendors have embraced the importance of User Experience (UX). Just look at Windows 10, IBM Verse or Android Oreo. It would be unfair to suggest that many did not respect UX before, however in recent years it has come to the fore. More vendors are encouraging their customers to embrace UX and are providing assistance in different forms.
IBM recently announced a badging programme for third parties interested in its IBM Design Thinking approach. Other vendors like Microsoft and Salesforce offer “design systems” – Fluent Design and Lightning Design respectively – that help customers building with their technologies to create better experiences.
Like Apple and Google, Microsoft and Salesforce’s approach is more UI centric, whereas IBM Design Thinking focuses on process. True value for customers will come from combining user centred design processes with design systems. Such change requires investment, and organisations need to justify that internally.
Some end-user clients have begun to embrace the importance of UX. A number of enterprises have built out internal competencies specifically to create better customer, employee and partner experiences. Data collected by CIC puts creating better experiences as one of the top 3 priorities of enterprise Digital Transformation strategies.
Despite this, Salesforce has not seen widescale adoption of Lightning, and Microsoft has struggled to get customers to adopt Fluent Design. These design systems are well conceived, robust and relatively easy to use, so what’s the problem? Perhaps it’s that none of them appear to give customers a good reason as to why they should make the effort and investment.
There’s nothing I can see on Salesforce’s Lightning Design or Microsoft’s Fluent Design sites that would inform the customer why they should invest in experience and/or these design systems. There seems to be an assumption that customers get it, and while some – mainly large ones – certainly do, there are many more who still don’t.
If Microsoft wants people to embrace Fluent Design – which may require a significant reworking of their products – then they would do well to provide some evidence-based reasons relating to business value. Similarly, Salesforce could educate customers as to why an investment in Lightning will not just benefit users but the customer’s own business. Both vendors have been using these in their own products and it would be great to see the measurable results of that. Better still if they were able to relay the business results from client users of their solution.
None of these vendors appear to provide public help for customers to build an internal business case for UX that would support such change. Even when they do have well-crafted microsites providing real world experiences and guidance, such sites can be hard to track down.
If vendors want to see better UX coming from their customers, then they need to push the ‘Why’ and start selling it just as they would other products – with a focus on the business benefits and value. Until then, getting the majority to adopt Lightning, Fluent Design or even IBM Design Thinking is going to remain a challenge.