Recently, I sat down with Killian Evers, Vice President of User Experience at Veritas, to talk about some of the design improvements you’ll be seeing in Veritas products over the coming weeks and months. It was a fun and illuminating conversation as Killian explained the principles of good design and how her team is implementing them in Veritas solutions. She also sprinkled in a few excellent analogies to illustrate her concepts.
Listen to our full interview on the ‘Voice of Veritas’ podcast, “Episode 51: Using the 3 Elements of Outstanding Design to Improve the User Experience”
What is Outstanding Design?
Core design principles are rooted in human behavior. You can boil them down to three key principles:
1. Keep it Simple
The concept of “keep it simple,” when applied to an enterprise class company, essentially means “boil it down for me.”
Think of your clothing closet as an analogy. Studies show that we wear about 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. Therefore, it makes sense to put the clothing you wear most often at the front of your closet. Killian explains: “You know you wear the same shirt every Tuesday, so you put it front and center. But you only wear a tuxedo once a year, so it can go in the back.”
When it comes to software design, Killian’s team applies the same principle. They analyze the functions users perform most often and then make them easy to access. “You find out what’s important to users and then design to that,” she explains.
Things can quickly get complicated when you have competing cases for system use. You can’t accommodate for them all or the result is overwhelming complexity. “If you put everything in, you end up with nothing,” Killian says. “It just confuses the user.”
Killian illustrates with an example. “I worked at a company that sold software to the United Nations. They had customized the user interface to accommodate everyone’s needs, which meant adding additional fields. By the time we looked at it, we discovered that users would have to go through 90 pages to apply for a job. Ninety!”
That’s a fantastic example of how trying to cater to every demand can result in overwhelming complexity.
The solution is to keep going back to user personas and assess what’s truly important. “You have to keep asking, ‘What do we know about the user?’” Killian says. “Do we know they need a tennis outfit every Wednesday? If yes, then we prioritize it. If something is less important, we tuck it away elsewhere.”
2. Make It Intuitive
We all want to create things that are special. But if you’re not careful, you end up creating something that’s unintuitive and difficult to use.
“It’s the common things that are often intuitive. As designers, we want to preserve those items, because people already have a frame of reference for how they work.”
As an example, Killian talks about a conference room where the door handle levers point to the floor instead of the side. To open the door, you must pull the lever up and then pull the door toward you. Intuitively, we expect to push down to open the door. “This door handle is special, but in a bad way. It’s unintuitive.”
Good designers know when to make something special—and when not to. “You want to put your energy into something that will really differentiate the product and sell it,” says Killian. “You don’t want to add glitter and change the color to pink for no good reason.”
There’s more opportunity for great design now than ever before. “Technology is finally catching up to humans,” says Killian. “As designers, we now have the technological capability to design for how humans behave and how they want to interact with the world.”
3. Ensure It’s Integrated
Integration can happen at multiple levels and in different ways. Ultimately, the goal is to create a better, more user-friendly product. “It’s about using design to make our products more effective, improve sales, and delight our customers,” says Killian.
This is an exciting time at Veritas, because we’ll soon be rolling out improved user experiences across many of our solutions including our flagship products. “The improved design won’t just be a façade,” Killian explains. “It will be integrated into everything we’ve built and developed over the years.”
These design improvements won’t be limited to just one product either. “We have a roadmap of products and versions going forward. You’re going to start seeing more and more improvements, release after release,” says Killian.
Stay tuned as we share a new video, "Creating a Protection Plan with the new NetBackup Web UI" next week!
So far, the response from test users has been overwhelmingly positive. “The feedback we’re getting is ‘This is fantastic!’ and ‘I love where you’re going with this.’ To some of our users, it feels like magic,” says Killian.
Listen to the Podcast
Visit iTunes to listen to this ‘Voice of Veritas’ podcast, “Episode 51: Using the 3 Elements of Outstanding Design to Improve the User Experience” for more of our discussion. Follow our social media channels to keep up to date on these exciting design changes as they’re released.
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