Why End-Users Must Be Involved in Workflow Design
Automated workflows have been around for longer than user-friendly interfaces have. If you are old enough to remember interacting with the C:\> prompt using MS DOS before Windows was invented, then you probably remember the feeling that your computer wasn’t so much a tool as a magic box that you operated by knowing which secret codes to use to get it to perform the automated tasks that you wanted. It was far from ideal.
All that changed with the first Macintosh computers, and then the advent of Windows. Suddenly you could see a representation of the task you were trying to accomplish. With relatively rudimentary knowledge, you could use someone else’s computer almost as well as your own. The point is, today there is simply no reason to have a user experience that is stuck in the old, “secret handshake” era of getting automated workflows to work.
The Importance of User Experience Is at the Forefront
Early automated workflows had to be designed by programmers, because they were the only ones who knew how to do it. And there were times when getting a process to work was non-intuitive, but users climbed the learning curve and eventually got good at it. All that has changed, however, particularly since the advent of the smartphone. People expect to pick up a device or fire up an app and know what to do, and user experience has taken on huge importance. In fact, if you create an app, you can’t expect it to succeed unless it has an intuitive, reliable user interface.
The same should be true of the automated workflows you use in your work. Carrying out a work process shouldn’t require some Byzantine process that takes a long time to learn. Fortunately, many of today’s workflow software choices make it easy to include the very users of an automated workflow in the workflow’s design, and you should take advantage of this.
Empower Users by Including Them in Workflow Design
When your marketing team develops its strategies and tactics, it first does extensive research on the “personas” at whom your products and services are directed. Likewise, when designing automated workflows, you should research the various personas who will use it.
That may require that you shadow workflow users, so you can see the workflow from their point of view. It may mean creating a focus group of process users and talking to them about what they want and don’t want in an automated workflow for a process they use every day. This will maximize chances that you will create a workflow that makes sense for users and empowers them to do their work more efficiently and effectively.
Consider How Frequently They Will Use the Workflow
You should also consider how frequently the users of automated workflows use them. If it is something they will use multiple times per day, every day, you will want to streamline the workflow so that it accounts for their level of expertise and doesn’t bog them down with needless instruction screens.
Then again, if a workflow is only used once a month or once a quarter, you should account for the “rustiness” that will set in between uses of the workflow. In these cases, more in-depth instruction and help screens make sense, so that workflow users don’t become confused when they can’t remember how they completed a step last time they tried it.
The Right Workflow Software Makes It Possible
Does your workflow software allow you to create a custom interface that will be intuitive and useful for the actual workflow users? It should. And it shouldn’t require that you hire a programmer to do it. PerfectForms is workflow software with an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that makes sense to the workflow designer, so the end product makes sense to the workflow user. You can try PerfectForms by signing up for a free trial, so why not see for yourself what great workflow interface design looks like and what it can do?