I developed my commerical first web application back in 1995. Back then, web applications were more focused on taking existing functionality and putting it on the web.
At the time, getting something on the web was the win. Very few people we concerned with adoption rates, user experience, abandon rates, etc. The goal was more function than design. Function trumped form.
Over the past few weeks, we have been evaluating back-office and sales enablement tools. All web-based of course.
While there are some pretty powerful tools out there, the biggest shock to me is how little the needle has moved from the “Function over form” design. Unfortunately, it looks as if function still is the win.
Maybe I'm jaded. I guess believing computers should be fun, easy, and intuitive to use is just a fantasy.
I think the most shocking thing to me, is that the big, highly profitable players in their respective niches, have terrible form. Sure, they offer an enmorous amount of features, disguised as functionality. Yet, they significantly lack in form. Their focus reminds me of Dell, back in the 90s and early 2000s, tons of custom ordered configuration options, but plain, clunky (but useable) form factor.
I get it – the more features you offer, the more creative and complex pricing model you can have. And that translates into more profit.
But, as a consumer, I feel like any time a pricing model is built around a graduated scale, the product is going to be focused on fuction instead of form. I think there is a direct correlation to the design of the product. It seems complex pricing models are aligned with function-driven products. And simple pricing models are aligned with form-driven products. It's almost like there is an inverse relationship between the pricing model and form of the UI…
As we continue to evaluate other tools, I've decided, the first thing I'm going to look at is the pricing model. If the pricing model is calculated by a complex web of features, I'd bet $10 the software product is function focused and is going to be inefficeint to use. Therefore, I'm taking it off my list. After filtering based on complex pricing, the next thing I'm going to look at is Form. Is the UI modern? Does it look easy to use? Will everyone on my team immediately understand how it works and what actions to take? And then, and only then, will I evaluate the functionality.
Because, let's be honest, every CRM on the market today, offers the same basic functionality. They allow me to manage contacts, deals, and activities. But, when I'm using a CRM to help me manage relationships, I want it to be fun, friendly, and easy to use. Why? Because, at the end of the day, the person on the other end of the phone or email is you.