Smart UX using HTML5 in software enterprise solutions

You could argue that Apple iPhone changed the world in a number of ways but one which has a crossover to enterprise software solutions is that of the user experience (UX). 29 June 2007 when the first iPhone was released was the day peoples were expectations were raised. No longer was a black and white screen acceptable, everyone wanted the shiny new mobile phone and whether they needed the functionality (at that point) was irrelevant. The experience of using an iPhone was so desirable that people were willing to pay 5 x that of what they were previously paying for a Nokia 9210. Fast forward 10-12 years and we are no longer impressed by a touch screen, we want tailored and intuitive experiences which make our lives easier.

An enterprise software application is now in that world. Users are accustomed to smart interfaces and ‘connected experiences’ and whether you leave a long-lasting positive impression on the user is dependent on the UX (as well as functionality). As cloud and SaaS solutions become more prevalent enterprise software needs to offer web and mobile based user interfaces. All of these pressures have meant that technology providers are investing huge sums in UX – and actually if you get it right, a good UX will reap benefits for both the tech providers and consumers in the long term.

What is UX design?

Don Norman, a cognitive scientist and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group Design Consultancy, is credited with inventing the term in the late 1990’s declaring that “User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

This implies that regardless of its medium, UX Design encompasses any and all interactions between a potential or active customer and a company. The UX role is complex, challenging and multi-faceted. A mix of Marketing, Interface Designing and Project Management.

UX design focuses on the experience your customers have using your product. When developing a web-based application with the user experience in mind, the goal is to escort your visitors through the application swiftly and intuitively – connected experiences. Traditional form-based windows applications don’t directly translate onto a browser or mobile device. Modern web-based applications provide smooth navigation, intuitive data entry and fast display of data. For enterprise risk applications that require a lot of reference data management, the logical flow or data and the ability to quickly get to important and relevant data is vital.

UX design must allow consideration for general aesthetics. Colour and fonts and screen layout are equally important to the overall experience. Running a user interface on a desktop web browser requires a very different layout to running the same application on a tablet or mobile phone.

Essentially two techniques are used to implement user interface throughout screen design:

Adaptive web design uses distinct layouts for multiple screen sizes, the layout mainly depends on the screen size being used so with each of these sizes in mind a layout is designed.

Response web design adapts to the size of the screen no matter what the target device screen size is. The layout is ‘fluid’ and CSS media is used to change styles, this ‘fluid’ grid enables the page to resize its width and height to adapt to different screen sizes and get display correctly.

Finally, the speed of screen loads and data retrieval must be considered. Users loath the dreaded hourglass. User responsiveness is a key component but when running software over the web it cannot be totally guaranteed due to varying download speeds, bandwidth and competing use of bandwidth from different applications across the enterprise. As software developers, all we can do is to ensure we design our applications with the most efficient browser technology, web services to distribute data retrieval and smart data packages to optimise payload.
Web browser technology has advanced considerably in recent years. Basic HTML forms were replaced by technologies such as Flash and SilverLight to provide more extensive functionality inside the browser. These provided richer user interfaces but required browser plug-ins and didn’t support mobile devices and all types of web browser. They were also inefficient at managing data population within the browser, which inevitably led to slower screen loads and hence poorer user experience. A more recent industry standard cross-browser, cross-device technology to emerge is HTML5 which provides a rich user experience.

Why HTML5?

• HTML5 is supported on all browsers and OS.
• HTML5 helps you embed video & audio.
• You can access HTML5 apps without downloading them to your phones.
• HTML5 offers more descriptive & improved semantics.
• HTML5 includes elegant forms, user interface enhancements, reduced need for JavaScript, and forms validation native to HTML.
• Applications can be deployed as local web applications and can also be viewed in browsers.
• With its new features and standards, HTML5 makes it easier to create front-end application such as drag and drop tools, wikis, discussion boards, and other useful elements.
• Mobile applications can use the same monetization and distribution channels as native applications.
• Applications are not restricted by the frames of the windows, and browsers can run in full screen mode.
• HTML5 provides a smarter solution to specify the files that the browser should cache. The pages can be loaded correctly even when offline.
• In place of reduction in cookie size, HTML5 allows you to use session Storage and local Storage. Store the structured data temporarily, not on a permanent basis.
• Users have complete control of the devices and their screen space.
• Centralized code can be modified to that interfaces to various devices.
• JavaScript, HTML and CSS are the backbone of the Internet and web applications; thus, migration of development tools to mobile devices is simpler.

As browsers and devices adopt more and more HTML5, entrepreneurs and software developers need to be at the forefront of these new features to create better UX experiences for their users.

UX is no longer a ‘nice to have’, the impact is crystal clear – if the users are satisfied, they are more likely follow through the process that the technology is encouraging. Apple changed the world and it is now estimated that 83% of all mobile users in the US use a smart phone. So, you can safely assume that 80% of business technology users want smart UX.

To learn more about RiskCubed and it’s smart UX please contact us.