How User Interface Design Can Make Or Break An Enterprise SaaS Solution

Software is only as powerful as the user’s ability to implement it. That's why user interface design can make or break your TMS solution.

user interface and SaaS

A surprising problem lies at the heart of many modern organizational scandals.

Consider the following examples:

What do these stories have in common? It’s not just the eye-watering sums of money they cost or the reputational harm for those involved.

No: it is the startling fact that each of these disasters could have very easily been averted if the organizations had made some simple improvements to their software’s User Interface (UI) design.

What is User Interface Design?

How could such an apparently small factor lead to such monumental errors? To understand, we need to unpack exactly what UI design actually is.

The User Interface is the means by which individuals navigate and interact with a piece of software. When you search for a piece of data or scroll through a menu, you do so via a User Interface.

So far, so straightforward. But things become much more complicated when you realize that these User Interfaces are not just delivering information to you in a neutral way. Instead, the way information appears to the user can dramatically alter the way they perceive, understand and respond to it.

Data can be presented in a way that makes it easy to understand or the exact opposite; the way an app is designed can make it effortless to navigate or virtually impenetrable.

Empower your team with good user interface design

So whether it’s by not giving users a key piece of information (Citibank), placing a checkbox in the wrong place (the US navy) or failing to notify other users (Apple), seemingly innocuous elements of a User Interface can either empower your team or lead them to implode.

User Interface design is the art of understanding how these various elements influence users and designing interfaces that ensure users behave in the way you want them to.

That is why User Interface design is one of the fastest growing areas in the world of enterprise SaaS. And why Forrester found that every dollar invested in User Experience results in a roughly $100 return - making it one of the absolute most cost-effective ways to improve a product.

The legacy challenges of UI design

Despite this recent increase in attention, the majority of enterprise software has historically undervalued UI design. The focus for most has been developing technically sound products that fill a particular gap in the market - at the expense of UI.

There are a few reasons for this:

**The first is cost: **while UI design generally takes up a fraction of the development budget, it still requires a great deal of time and resources to deliver an exceptional UI - something that can be very difficult to justify for a growing, cash-strapped business.

Second, most software takes a long time to develop and UI trends change fast. By the time the full solution has been built, the UI is often already outdated - and small updates or optimizations are not sufficient to solve the problem.

Third, design is often considered purely a marketing function - and therefore dismissed. Many stakeholders don’t want to appear hung up on frivolous, aesthetic concerns like how the app looks when complex questions about data handling or APIs are still on the table.

Finally, many organizations are excessively bureaucratic. This leads to communication problems and misaligned objectives, so that making the case for UI design as a core business imperative becomes harder.

Modern software with dinosaur interface

As a result, most enterprise SaaS solutions are still not fully optimized - and many look like they could have been built in the 2000s. But as the SaaS market has matured, innovative companies have begun to solve these problems and understand the real business case for better UI design.

Five business benefits of better UI design

Increased engagement

Software is only as powerful as the user’s ability to implement it. You can have the most revolutionary technology in the world; if people can’t figure out how to use it, it will all be for nothing.

Better UI design helps onboard new users more quickly; communicate the value of the software more easily; and ensure there is widespread uptake throughout teams. For software designed to enable collaboration and information sharing, such engagement is essential for the software to realize its full value.

Greater accessibility

Most enterprise teams encompass individuals with a range of ages and technologically know-how. Because software is often designed with a sophisticated user in mind, it ends up being very difficult to navigate for those without extensive experience. As a result, many users find it hard to access the information they need - leading to wasted time and miscommunication. But better UI design can solve these problems.

By ensuring it is easy to navigate the platform and locate relevant information, better UI design helps users become more efficient and reduce the likelihood of mistakes when handling sensitive data or making critical decisions.

Enhanced productivity

As businesses become more reliant on software, more of their employees’ time is spent using that software. If the UI is unattractive or poorly designed, their experience may become rather negative.

Simply making the UI more aesthetically appealing and easier to navigate can improve employees’ mood, increase productivity and reduce the amount of cognitive energy that is spent navigating the software.

More consistent experience

Because enterprise software is often vast and complicated, the UI is often highly inconsistent. Some parts of the software may have been updated very recently, while others look totally different.

This can create dissonance for users: their experience is disrupted, and the shift in UI can often have the same effect as “task switching” - which can have a huge impact on productivity. But a focus on UI design ensures that the software is consistent throughout, delivering a seamless experience for every user.

Unlock hidden functionality

Many pieces of enterprise software are never put to their full use, in large part because the users aren’t aware of their full range of functionality. There may be huge opportunities to create value and improve results hidden within the platform.

Better UI makes discovering and making use of those underappreciated features easier. By making navigation easier, or perhaps even by guiding users towards those hidden functions, a great UI designer can help unlock hidden value within a piece of software.

The power of software and users

Why Cargobase reimagined its UI

At Cargobase, we spent a lot of time developing best-in-class Transportation Management Software (TMS) that has changed the way our customers operate - bringing automation, visibility and efficiency to the supply chain. But our mission is not just to disrupt the market - it is to continually deliver greater value to our users.

This is why we are investing our latest round of funding in upgrading the User Interface of our TMS. Our global customer base trusts us to help streamline, monitor and optimize their most complex logistical challenges. And we felt it was only right that we make sure our software gives them the best possible experience on the market.

According to PwC, 50% of transportation and logistics teams face challenges related to digitalization, with a lack of digital culture and training being companies’ top challenges.

We hope the recent updates to our UI will help bridge these gaps and make it easy to #GetShipDone for every single user.

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