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User Experience and Users in the Organization

1 May 2013
Michal Tzadka
ux designer

Have you ever taken the elevator down, then remembered you forgot something, so you pressed the number of the flight you need in order to go back up? Has it happened more than once?

Have you ever encountered the new elevators which do not have buttons in their interior and can only be called from the outside? This means that if you forgot something, you must exit the elevator, call another elevator and go up again. Unfortunately, this happened to me more than once and after a quick survey I found that I'm not the only one.

Some might say that this is an innovative invention and innovation and progress come before everything. They might also add, that there are many needs and aspects that cannot all be taken into consideration. I claim that while innovation and progress are important, we must remember the users and make sure that the learning curve is as small as possible by answering the needs of a variety of users.


How is this done?

When we characterize a KM solution for organizations, it is important that we understand who are our users and construct numerous prototypes to check if we answer their needs in terms of user experience.

In the organization, we will review our workers:

  • The young worker: likes gadgets and innovation, is restless and spends his day in a computerized environment. This worker wants to receive the information here and now. A common example of this type of worker is Y generation workers or in the near future Z generation workers.

  • The technophobe worker: frightened from technology, is usually older, prefers a routine and 'the good old way' i.e. keeps the information in folders and is careful to print the material). A common example of this type of workers is workers from the 'baby boomers' generation.

  • The worker between the two aforementioned types learns and adapts to technology. On one hand, he does not search for the latest gadget released yet uses a computer for work and is possibly connected to a social network. A common example of this type of workers is workers from Generation X.

We will also review the nature of the organization and the work performed in it:

  • Many new workers, quick turnover such as call centers, the lifespan of an average worker in the organization is approximately a year.

  • An organization with veteran workers, little turnover, the workers know most of the work procedures.

  • An organization in which work procedures are altered in a high or low frequency.


Here's an ample for a characterization of a work process in a Knowledge Management system:

Should we characterize it as a workflow process with all its divestitures and require all workers to go through each phase, or should we characterize it as a map with an option to focus on the knowledge relevant to each question? Review the users presented above and think: what solution would apply to this situation?

There is no absolute solution, yet the tendency of an organization with quick turnover would be to choose a workflow solution and an organization in which work processes are rarely altered usually choose a process map.

Occasionally, organizations are in hast to purchase the most innovative product available, and then attempt to assimilate it. Just a few tips before you take this route:

  1. Stop and check: who are the users in the organization and will progress and innovation answer their real

  2. Take in consideration that answering your organization's UX will require further development and adaptation of the product.

  3. Check the search engine: in a world in which 3.8 billion searches are performed a day and each one of a billion web surfers perform an average of 100 searches a month (according to comScore statistics, July 2012). The search engine is a UX feature crucial for a successful assimilation of a KM solution.

  4. Conduct a usability test on the system, using real users from the organization (those who will actually use the system, not only Training & Development personnel).

Addressing a variety of users whose needs seem at times to contradict is undoubtedly challenging. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that in order to successfully assimilate these Knowledge Management solutions, we cannot avoid investing in User Experience.      

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