The singular most important factor in software adoption is ease of use.

In order for any new technology to succeed, people need to form a habit and make a change in their current behavior—and changing human behavior doesn’t happen on its own. This requires each and every piece of software in your tech stack to be intuitive in design and purposeful with its mission.

When it comes to buying said software, you’ll be hard pressed to find any vendor that won’t tell you their product is easy to use. We hear it so often it’s become marketing hyperbole.

But do we really know what “ease of use” means?

Let’s start from the top.

What Is Ease of Use?

If you actually explore this term, you’ll probably find that there’s much more that comes into play than just usability.

Yes, a big component is the amount of effort required to use a tool, but it’s also about how easy it is to incorporate that tool into a daily workflow, how seamlessly it fits in with the other tools in your tech stack, and perhaps most importantly, the ease of doing business with the company providing that tool.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) publishes research and recommendations covering human interaction with computers and software. ISO standard 9241 provides a usability definition as:

“The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”

More simply, it boils down to how easy is it for your team to get the job done.

Factors That Determine Software Usability

When it comes to defining easy-to-use, it’s not a simple thing. Every person that will use software will come at it from a different knowledge base and comfort level. A lot of whether your employees will deem something is easy to use will depend on their skill level prior to using it.

Easy-to-use software, as it turns out, is in the minds of the user as well.

Whitney Quesenbery is an expert on usability design.  She breaks down the components that make up ease-of-use by evaluating the five E’s (Effective, Efficient, Engaging, Error Tolerant, and Easy to Learn).

  • Efficient
    How much time, clicks, or page views does it take to complete routine tasks?
  • Effective
    How accurately tasks can be complete and how often errors are produced?
  • Engaging
    Will users be satisfied or frustrated using the application?
  • Error Tolerant
    What happens when users encounter problems, errors, or need help?
  • Easy to Learn
    How will rookies and experts be able to efficiently navigate the software and perform the necessary tasks?

The Business Value of Prioritizing Functionality and UI/UX

Workplace productivity grows when your employees understand how to use your company software and tech to do their jobs. The inverse is true as well. Complex software, poorly designed software,  and a lack of training and support can lead to frustrated employees.

What is UX design?  
UX (User Experience) design focuses on the entire experience the user has with the software. It includes the way a product is designed for user experience, making for an efficient, effective, and enjoyable experience.

What is UI design?
UI (User Interface) design focuses on the look and feel of the software.

How do UX and UI work together?
UX design will decide the software needs a form or a button to complete a task.  UI design will decide what it will look like and how it will fit into the overall design. Poor UX design or poor UI design can also lead to frustrations and hurt employee engagement and adoption.

The Cost of Disengaged Employees

Having disengaged employees can cause a myriad of problems, not the least of which is employee turnover.  A Gallup poll found that roughly a third of U.S. employees feel engaged in their jobs. That means the other two-thirds say they aren’t engaged at work. Perhaps that’s why 51% of employees say they are actively looking for a new job or keeping an eye on openings elsewhere.

Gallup actually put a price tag on the cost of that engagement. Disengaged employees, it says, cost U.S. businesses $605 billion every year in lost productivity.

Disengaged employees are more likely to call in sick, which can add additional expense when someone else has to cover the shift.  They also tend to have more workplace injuries. The Gallup folks added up the cost of these items as well. What Gallup defines as “actively disengaged employees” cost their organization $3,400 in hard costs for every $10,000 of salary.

More than a third of all employees (39%) say they are frustrated with their software and tech at work, according to Oxford Economics.  That frustration and lost productivity shows up in various ways. In addition to turnover, disengaged employees are less likely to solve problems, go the extra step to help customers or clients, and can have a negative impact on even your engaged employees.

How Ease of Use Fits into Employee Advocacy

When it comes to Employee Advocacy software, you need a truly easy-to-use solution to amplify your company’s brand by sharing content across social network platforms.

Benefits of Easy to Use Social Media Management Tools

  • Amplify your brand and increase your visibility
  • Increase your quality leads and conversions
  • Educate your workforce and improve internal communications
  • Celebrate company goals and successes
  • Get your employees invested in your results
  • Recruit talent and reduce turnover

Not only will the right solution have the potential to increase your bottom line, but it can cut down on headaches and expenses by creating a truly engaged workforce. While empowering your employees to become brand ambassadors—and increasing your reach across various social media platforms—you are also creating more engaged employees.

Choosing Easy-to-Use Software

It’s a critical decision. There’s already a disconnect between what managers and employees think when it comes to the workplace—63% of executives in an Oxford Economics survey said their employees have the right tools to do the job, but only 41% of employees felt the same. Making a bad choice will only exacerbate that disconnect.

Product designers and software engineers know their product intimately. It can be very easy to overlook UI and UX in the real world. After all, what they’ve created makes perfect sense to the people creating it.  For the end users, however, if it isn’t easy to use, teams will fight adoption no matter how much the business wants it.

It’s true with letters and with software. It’s much easier fill up software with code and features. It’s much more difficult to design software that is simple to use, has the feature you need, and eliminates unnecessary steps.

Less can truly mean more—as long as it does everything you need it to do!

Looking Beyond the Software

One component that often gets lost in ease-of-use is that it’s not just limited to the software itself, but how easy it is to work with the people and team you’re buying from.  Even simple software can be frustrating when you have an issue and there’s a lack of training and/or support.

A Udemy survey of 1,000 people revealed that 54% of people in the workplace don’t feel they have been adequately trained. Nearly a third said they specifically had not received the training they needed with software and technology to do their jobs.

Ease-of-use extends far beyond just platform simplicity.  When you’re choosing as Software as a Service (SaaS) company, make sure you have a strong grasp of both the training they will provide at implementation and the service they will provide after the launch.