17 Oct Why UX Is important to CPQ implementations
by Hannah Points
The user experience (UX) is how a person feels when interacting with a product. Certain aspects can be controlled by designers and developers and making smart decisions here elevates the usability of a solution, which is an important component of the user experience. In fact, businesses “that place more value on UX than their peers achieve productivity gains and higher value,” according to research out of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
There are two components of UX that I consider key aspects when building CPQ implementations for good user experience. The first component is all about workflow. Is the workflow intuitive? Is it better than the existing solution? Will sales users adopt the new product? Can they easily find the products they want to quote? The second component focuses on visual design. Does the site look and feel like a cohesive company interface? Are we using colors, fonts, and layouts to our advantage?
Designing for intuitive workflow
Before we dive into visual design, I want to address the way people think, behave, and interact and how this relates to human-machine interaction. According to an article by Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D., people’s personal experiences and viewpoints affect how they experience and interact with UX design. It’s important to keep the points below in mind when making an intuitive workflow:
– Ease of use and least amount of work
– Users have limited capabilities, varied expertise, and make mistakes
– People crave information and are social
– Information is processed unconsciously, and mental models are created based on a variety of inputs
– Visuals matter
– People want to feel in control
At Simplus, we make design decisions based on industry-standard principles of user interface design, ensuring we incorporate the key human aspects to maximize usability. The following are all considerations we employ and believe are important in designing a CPQ solution:
Structure: The order and organization of items on each page should be intuitive. We make good use of tabs, groups, and columns in layout editors and use cascading style sheets (CSS) to our advantage.
Simplicity: Simple, common tasks should be readily apparent and easy to execute. Where possible, we use a customer’s corporate standards in design and functionality to minimize the need for users to relearn tricky concepts.
Visibility: The more commonly used elements of CPQ take the forefront of our UI/UX designs. We eliminate clutter and move rarely used pieces of functionality out of the way so that users can perform their core tasks quickly and efficiently.
Feedback: Configuration of complex products can be tricky, especially since many customers try to create a system that allows non-experts to be trained in the CPQ process. Implementations should provide users with the necessary feedback to validate their solution and move through the process seamlessly.
Tolerance: Most CPQ user populations are made up of non-experts, so we must design our implementations such that they are tolerant of errors and provide guidance to the user. Warning messages and errors are shown prominently, and wording is clear and concise. We can reduce the occurrences of mistakes in the first place by using the principles listed above.
Reuse: We maintain consistency throughout our implementations by reusing design cues and focusing on consistency with purpose. This approach keeps our users from having to remember multiple methods to accomplish similar tasks, reduces training time, and increases accuracy and ease of use.
At the core, CPQ solutions help customers sell their products or services more efficiently. By investing in UX at the beginning of a project, we can minimize development and rework time while improving overall performance and adoption.
The visual appeal of a site complements its usability and impacts how people perceive your company. People are easily influenced by visual aesthetics, including pictures, stories, colors, icons, and balance. While good function and flow are foundational to usability, visual aesthetics are an important aspect in engaging the user and making them pay attention to particular messaging. The use of colors and icons can impact what a user pays attention to, and even subtle changes to these elements can alter how a user interacts with or is drawn to the site. Visuals also relate directly to branding and impact how people see your company. A good implementation partner will design with these branding elements in mind to increase the usability of and engagement with the site and ensure an accurate reflection of key brand elements.
UX is all around us, and good design is often overlooked as it goes unnoticed. Positive experiences lead to positive feelings. Similarly, negative experiences lead to negative feelings, and it takes between four and seven positive experiences to balance out one negative experience. We want to maximize the positives and minimize the negatives. Effective UX design can reduce the amount of time spent on promoting a product or new sales process. Quality persona development and thorough user acceptance testing can increase positive user engagements, which in turn can increase ROI. Spend more time on UX at the beginning of an implementation, and you’ll reduce the need for extensive support, increase retention, and possibly improve credibility. Delight your customers, don’t merely satisfy them.
To find out more of what Simplus can do for you, contact us at [email protected].
Hannah is a Senior Consultant at Simplus and a creative problem solver with practical experience delivering results to meet user needs. Her unique perspective on CPQ and how to use technology to accomplish business goals leads to client success. This helps drive value, usability, and long-term sustainability.