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comfort-zone

No-Go Zone for Comfort Zones

It never ceases to amaze me how easily we want to fall back into our comfort zones.  While on holidays in China recently with a large tour group, many of my tour companions expressed their dislikes for the local food, cultural displays and traffic chaos.  It was outside of their ‘comfort zone’ and they were comparing their new surroundings to what they knew.

There are many parallels between new travel and new technology experiences. As a software provider, we’re continually challenged to meet the changing requirements of users in a diverse market – expectations are shaped by different previous software experiences and general user preferences. For example, one user may be more comfortable accessing their online bank from their desktop PC at home, in a trusted environment; another may expect to have full access to complete financial transactions from their mobile phone anywhere, anytime.

Learning new software and smartphone apps can be very daunting.  New software can be foreign to some inexperienced users, just like visiting new countries can be challenging for inexperienced travellers. There is a real challenge for software providers to make new software more intuitive and less foreign to everything else users have seen, whether this is software from their enterprise solution vendors, personal and mobile device app makers, websites or any other player in the digital world.

Increasingly technology providers are adopting widespread standards for ensuring optimal user experience with minimal change impact for all users, including users with accessibility requirements, or users from different language backgrounds. This presents additional challenges for enterprise software vendors who provide complex applications that have been developed over many years – often incorporating many different user interface styles and techniques. Software vendors are challenged to rebuild their products to adopt these newer, standards-based user experience techniques in order to meet the changing requirements of the market. But they must do this in a way that takes their customers on the change journey with them – we definitely don’t want to end up in a position where software vendors create products that look great, but fail to deliver the functionality that users have come to understand over time and are now comfortable with.

Software now is never static.  Our attitude towards ‘continual learning’ needs to be equally always in motion to keep pace.  It’s likely we will only learn that small piece of functionality we need to add value to our work and personal lives, regardless of how broad the offering is within the software products we use.

I’m probably a fairly low to medium user of software.  I have 52 apps on my iPhone.  But I actively use less than a dozen of them.  It doesn’t mean the other apps are redundant.  It just means they’re fit for purpose at the time when I need them, just not all of the time.  Those dozen apps are probably in my smart phone comfort zone.

The same can be said for features provided by enterprise solution builders.  The features only have real value if they are used for their built purpose.  Here at Aurion, I am constantly aware that the products we build need to add value to our customers.  We step out of our comfort zones to deliver new products; and making the software familiar, consistent, reliable and beneficial are the future challenges.

When we build new products, first and foremost in our minds is user experience. At Aurion, we have re-engineered the software development process to place user experience front-and-centre in the design process. However, good user experience means different things to different people. It’s our job as a provider of enterprise software industries to a variety of sectors to consider optimal, consistent user experience for all of users, and to provide supporting materials – including eLearning and online help and supporting materials so that our users can comfortably adjust to the changes we make to truly deliver the value we want our customers to realise.

Next time you’re using new software, or travelling to a new place, and presented with something new, challenge yourself to accept it by saying – “it’s not wrong, it’s just different.”

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