U is for Usability

As our new Helpdesk portal reaches the 2 months stage, it seems an adequate time to reflect on some of the usability challenges that we faced both in designing the system and part of the ongoing process to improve user’s access to helpdesk information. These challenges aren’t specific to our Helpdesk system though, they apply to software systems the world over.

At least the same functionality

One of the main mantras I followed in designing our new Portal was that it should be able the provide at least the same information as the previous incarnation. Any more was a huge plus, naturally, but as a bare minimum we shouldn’t lose any usability from an end user standpoint.

Disable all unrequired controls

As part of the Helpdesk Portal system there was a lot of security & customisation available within the product, as there is with SYSPRO and other K3 Syspro products. To reduce screen clutter for both end users and customers, I planned out which fields we would use and removed all others.

Ongoing education

Quite possibly the biggest usability challenge was and is the education of all features within the system to end users. You can’t bombard users with every included feature and process at Day 1, so this has resulted in a number of beginner, intermediate and advanced ‘mini-courses’ taking place to build up confidence in the usability of the system.

Its sometimes easy to overlook the usability of a new system from the many different viewpoints of different end users, but try to incorporate into your projects, no matter how big or small.

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