The Key to Fixing Enterprise Software

In Jared Spool’s podcast on UIE.com titled “Time Traveling with Enterprise Applications – UX Immersion Podcast”, they explore the topic of fixing bloated, unusable enterprise software systems from a ux strategy perspective.

Jared Spool and company highlight how enterprise software is often database driven, e.g. “if it’s in the database, create a field for it on the screen”. It makes sense, since most of these systems were driven by engineering and built 10+ years ago. Back then, users and design weren’t as vaulted as they are today.

I enjoy how Spool and company flow from identifying the problem to fixing it. If there’s one golden nugget to take away, it’s the following tip: watch/understand the enterprise users suffering while attempting to complete tasks using the software; then start chiseling away, bit-by-bit, at the improvements – make sure each release has at least one of your fixes in it.

In my experience, it’s almost that simple – but not quite. People are often so preoccupied with pushing out features that even when they see user’s suffering to navigate the archaic interfaces, they don’t think “we better fix that”; rather, the thought process is “well, they’ll suffer one time to figure it out, but then they’ll know how to use it and won’t suffer any more since they’ll understand it after that first time.”

Other things holding back the required changes is the coaching/training departments that corporations invest heavily into. Each time a change is made, the training manuals and lesson plans must be altered.

And lastly, there’s the fact that if the software is so archaic, many great ux changes simply can’t be accomplished. For example, in the old of Microsoft-driven technologies (ASP), it was standard practice to always compute changes on the server and to push them to the front end. Whereas, great modern user experience accomplish these same tasks on the client side – allowing for state changes without a page refresh.

Conclusively, though Jared Spool’s plan of making incremental changes in each release is helpful, it falls short of describing how to accomplish great ux changes. In order to accomplish great ux changes in old enterprise software, there has to be a simultaneous build process – so for each feature that is carved into the archaic system, that feature is built out into the new system as well. At some point, the new will catch up with the old; at which point the old can be switched off (and buried!) and the new can light up the world.

How to Re-Order Pages in WordPress

If you need to re-order the navigation in your WordPress menu, it’s quite easy to do.  Here’s how you can accomplish sorting the menu items:

  1. Log into your WordPress admin to enter the Dashboard
  2. click on the ‘Quick Edit’ link in the Pages view
  3. to the right side, you’ll see that each page by default is set to an order of 0
  4. click inside the input fields change the order numbers to be sequential, e.g, Home [0], Blog[1], About[2], etc
  5. be sure to click the UPDATE button after each change

Why’s it a good idea to re-order the navigation of your site?  Think of the user experience, and the fact that English reads left to right.  The normal hierarchy for web sites is to have the Home link at the farthest left; and then to continue in order of importance.  The last item in the menu, however, may or may not be the least important in the hierarchy.  For example, if the last item is the Contact Us page, it might be the least important in terms of content; then again,  your business might depend on customers being able to contact you.  In that case, being on the end could be helpful, in that it’s the last item your readers scan since they’ve read the items in the navigation from left to right.

It’s also helpful to consider the user experience in terms of storytelling: First we want to welcome them into our adventure (the Home or “Landing” Page; then we want to give them some details (Product Details); lastly, we want to give them an opportunity to connect with us at a deeper level (Contact Us or Blog or Social Media).

step 1 to re-order WordPress pages
in the WordPress Dashboard, select Pages; in Pages, select Quick Edit

steps 2-3 to re-order WordPress pages (navigation)
in Quick Edit view, change the Order number and hit the Update button to save