It’s often the case that we don’t really recognize poor user experience until we’re shown – or start thinking about – the alternatives.
Quite correctly, the majority of research and analysis firms are focused primarily on the production of insightful and informative reporting; but sometimes they can fall into the trap of assuming the way they distribute reports and interact with their customers is good enough.
Well, that isn’t always the case.
What does poor user experience look like?
Put yourself in this end user’s position: they order a report from a research and analysis firm and it arrives over email as a PDF. In a locked, linear format like this there’s no way for the content to easily be updated, so it’s already getting old; and then how is the customer supposed to use this information?
How do they compare it with other sources? How do they compile it into the report they’re authoring? The answer is they can’t, not easily. Each of these processes will be time-consuming and limit the quality of the work they finally produce.
Or what about this scenario: you’re a business information firm publishing new content through an older publishing portal; the look and feel isn’t contemporary; in fact, you can’t get it to match the branding of your corporate site and it requires a separate log-in.
The technology does allow you to publish reports digitally, but the limited tracking and analysis functionality means understanding customer behavior and content use isn’t a real option. Plus, uploading and editing content takes an age. The net result is that your users are barely getting a better service than if they simply received a PDF over email.
In each of these situations, what do the limitations say about the publisher’s brand and its attitude to its customers?
Improved user experience = enhanced brand perception
So what does good user experience look like? We only really have to look at the leading search engines to answer that – why are people drawn to the reams of free content they point towards? The answer is… because it’s easy.
The trick for research and analysis firms is to make high-quality content as quick and easy to access as all the free content available via a Google search. What if you could enter a search term, see a series of matching returns across all manner of sources and content types then, with speed and ease, take that information and make use of it?
That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, service of this kind isn’t always the norm.
An underwhelming user experience, as we’ve suggested, can often be the legacy of relying on old or outmoded technology for too long.
An older web portal can become expensive and time-consuming to maintain, difficult to integrate with other systems, and prove increasingly cumbersome when attempting to perform even the most basic day-to-day tasks.
Often, the only thing preventing its replacement is the large capital outlay that would be required to buy in or build a new piece of kit and pay a team to run it.
By thinking of software as service, rather than a capital investment, research and analysis firms can outsource all the issues that usually limit the effectiveness of technology. The software service partner will provide a platform that is in continual development and it will remove the unpredictability of costs associated with managing and developing an in-house software solution.
The answer to all these problems would be to look for an alternative software solution – one that can deliver granular and accurate results in a single search.
Most importantly, it will provide up-to-the-minute technology that meets and exceeds end user expectation in terms of functionality, usability, ease and speed of use, and a look and feel that matches the publishing firm’s existing branding.
But it won’t just do that.
A high-quality publishing system should be as easy to use for the publishing firm as it is for the end user. Previously exhausting day-to-day tasks like adding and amending content can become quick and painless, freeing up time to improve the customer offering.
In addition, a serviced software solution can also provide the publisher with insightful analysis to help them improve the user experience all the more.