Software is essential to today’s everyday business functions. From point-of-sale systems to accounting programs to project management platforms, there’s a ton of choices for decision makers to choose from when picking a new tool to support their business operations. The last thing a person in such a position wants is to choose software no one likes and impossible to use.

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"When something is intuitive, it is easy to use, simple, and naturally familiar to its users—in short, a good fit."

What sets software apart these days comes down to a few simple but incredible differences in their user interface design. A user interface is the visual presentation of a software’s function, as well as how that presentation influences its use. When thinking about computer operating systems, for example, the visual differences between Windows and Apple’s iOS is what make up their user interfaces. If you’re in the habit of using one system and then try to switch to the other, you’ll see quickly how the user interfaces vary, as well as what challenges to efficiency those differences can present.

Software sales people usually promise that their programs are “intuitive,” but what does that mean? When something is intuitive, it is easy to use, simple, and naturally familiar to its users—in short, a good fit. Let’s take a look at some of the key elements of design that play a role in a software program’s ease of adoption.

It’s Consistent

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Intuitive software will maintain consistency throughout its platform. The reason consistency is so important is because it allows users to learn the basics of the software quickly and even develop a muscle memory pattern when they use the software. Performing more complex functions is easier from the start thanks to this consistency.

For example, if a human resources software offers the option to handle payroll, benefits, and talent management, the menu buttons in all three of those portals should be in the same place, and any subcategories should be accessed in the same fashion. The process for putting in a new hire’s info should be the same as updating an existing employee. This context will allow users not only to develop confidence in using the software, but also to apply that knowledge to solve problems when they are learning to perform a new function.

It’s Streamlined

If the process of inputting a new hire’s information or reconciling two sets of books requires an outrageous amount of steps within the software, then it’s not very intuitive or helpful. A great software designer will develop a program that is designed to accomplish its users’ goals without creating too many hurdles to jump along the way. If that is to manage projects, then creating projects and delegating tasks should be as simple as a few clicks and keystrokes. If the software exists to help a sales team become more effective, it won’t require that they spend a lot of time within it building out leads and marketing campaigns.

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It’s Familiar

Anyone choosing a new software for their business or employer must ensure they know their audience. Understanding what software your coworkers or employees are already versed in using will make it easier to choose something they will adopt easily. Even if the software is complex, starting from a point of familiarity will make the learning curve smaller and easier. It’s also advisable to check in with those using the new program a few days after its installation, to see how they are adapting and if they have any complaints. If you’re in a position where the software is a custom build, let end users try it out in the early stages to give feedback.

"The end users will always be the best judges of their own ability and success, so don’t leave them out of the decision-making process."

Above all, an intuitive software will be one that is easily adopted. These programs exist to make the lives of those using them easier. Before settling on any software for any aspect of your company, it’s important that you review it with those who will be using it. The end users will always be the best judges of their own ability and success, so don’t leave them out of the decision-making process. Also, remember that the ability to intuitively use software comes with experience using computers, so those who have less exposure might need additional training, no matter how streamlined the user interface.