The world we live in – or used to live in, as the past months have changed the way we see our future – shows us that the unexpected lies ahead in every aspect of life from how we wash our hands, to how we do business. Also, this is the moment when organizations decide if the crisis will impact their technology or if their technology will impact the outcome of the current situation.
Digital transformation is a reality for many companies trying to go digital to overcome the crisis and thrive afterwards. But there are still areas where legacy software is a part of everyday operations. One such field is the Scientific Instruments sector, where breakthroughs and innovations like miniaturizations, Big Data and IoT are trending right now. Therefore, it is at least curious that in general, software for such instruments is lagging. It’s mostly dull and sometimes downright bad.
The cost of bad UX design
Companies that still run old systems look towards a future where software modernization is no longer nice to have, but a must. To stay competitive, your company should maximize scientific software's value. We say that investing in UX will change your company’s future. Let’s see why.
The scientific sector suffers from high fragmentation in narrow niches that need specific technical software solutions tailored to offer increased efficiency.
If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design” – says Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover.
Often, ample modernizing projects and even rebuilding software are the main challenges in the business landscape. We have seen many companies and organizations that are reluctant to go all the way and pay for the full solution.
We say that the cost of bad scientific software produces bad science. Some immediate effects of bad scientific software are:
- Very slow working with the tool
- Bad Performance
- Bad fit in the process
- Bad scaling
- Not intuitive – need to pay support for very small stuff
- Error-prone software
Scientific software is a valuable resource for competitive companies
At Accesa, we have had the chance to support numerous partners in their journey of software modernization. The main reasons that triggered the need for modernization were:
- Innovating software solutions along with hardware improvements, to maintain a competitive edge
- Software solutions are no longer scaling
- The high cost of adding new features to very old software
- New sensors, new portable devices or touch devices
- Cloud Migration
- Embedding innovations like Machine Learning or IoT
Our projects with clients from the scientific industry show that software which is built well and provides good UX does not only increases machine efficiency but also helps scientists complete their scientific measurements and programming more effectively.
How do you achieve a resourceful software that maximizes scientific value? By investing in good design. How do you create products that are easy to use and facilitate the users? By understanding who your users are, what needs they have and what their processes are to design a desirable User Experience. Software is very empowering when it gives users a tailored solution to improve work efficiency. Here is where UX design comes into play. Good UX = accurate results = happy users = business success = positive impact
Increase the scientific value with these 3 ideas for good UX
UX is not just a pretty face. Key elements of UX design encompass user needs and pains, functional requirements, interaction design, information architecture, usability and interface design, just to name a few. So good design is not only about the graphics and the visuals. Especially in the Scientific Industry, UX has great potential to empower scientists. It can drive good usability, efficiency, accuracy, supporting real-life scientific processes.
In our experience, the right tools and mindsets make modernization efficient, focused and cost-effective. They support understanding users and processes; they enable us to fail fast and cheap, drive the priorities and requirements by validated learning. We aim to build the right product not just build the product right.
Co-creation and workshops - Driving alignment and shared understanding
Co-Creation means developing new products, concepts or services together with customers, partners and other expert stakeholders to produce a mutually valued outcome. This brings value to any digital product because, as we mentioned, no scientist can be an expert in building and launching digital products and vice-versa. Putting the necessary skill sets around the table can make all the difference.
Understanding users - Looking through the user’s eyes
When discussing tools and methodologies, some of them support us in achieving shared understanding about user needs, behaviours and processes. Create user journey maps and process maps. These take the form of visualizations or maps because there is a very efficient way to compile information and make it accessible, digestible, and easy to read. Usually, looking from this bird’s-eye view, it is easier to spot points of inflexion where pains, low points and challenges are or where innovation can spark. Drive solutions based on your key findings.
Prototyping - Explore Solutions, Validate and Incorporate
A prototype is a simple model of a proposed solution used to test or validate your ideas and our concepts. It supports idea validation with low time and resource investment because building a UX prototype involves a small number of people for a predefined amount of time. It’s always cheap to fail “on paper”. Another power of a prototype is the visualization, it is visual and touchable so it’s immensely more efficient at conveying ideas, having the same understanding about them and receiving a quick, measurable response. Have a clear testing approach and make sure to incorporate the learning sessions into your iterations.
Even though investing in good UX for your scientific software can seem like it’s not a priority in these challenging times, your company should keep in mind that it might pay an even greater cost for not modernizing it later. To overcome the current crisis and even thrive afterwards, you should be ready to step into a new normal of a world where technology has evolved.
Inconsistencies and difficulties in scientific measurements and programming are certainly not the future, but we think it will be rather sooner than later when counter-intuitive software will no longer be acceptable. With ideas and tools like co-creation workshops, prototyping, user testing and validated learning, you can build or modernize software to increase the scientific value and give your systems a chance to stand the test of time.