Whether you commission a software company to write an application especially for your
organisation or you choose one from the thousands of programs that are already available, it is important to consider the user interface design before making your choice, as well as the functionality that lies behind it.
Who will be using it?
Before you begin to evaluate the design of software that you come across online, you need to think about the people in your company that will be using it the most on a daily basis. A user interface that works well on a desktop monitor may be almost unusable on a smartphone screen so when buying sales software, for example, you need to establish whether it will be used mainly by in-house staff or by representatives that are on the road for much of their working life and who rely on mobile devices such as phones and tablets to retrieve and interact with the data that they require.
What information is most important?
By identifying the data that your employees will be accessing most often, you will be able to choose a UI design that makes this information easily accessible from the home screen. No matter how functional the software in which you invest is or how IT savvy your employees are, a program that makes it hard to get to the data that is needed to carry out day-to-day tasks is unlikely to be a great success with end users.
It is a good idea to survey the group of employees for which a custom application is intended, to make sure that no incorrect assumptions are made at the design stage. Whether the developer you choose is targeting the Windows Phone 8 platforms or another mobile OS, it is critical to ensure that they have all the information they need at the earliest possible stage so that they can create an app that is truly useful to your company and its workers.
There are many independent software houses that specialise in the design and development of applications for mobile devices so if you are not happy with the first one that you approach, you can always find another firm that is more understanding of your needs and that takes the time to listen to your concerns.
Although most corporate entities tend to choose software with a uniform front end so that it is instantly recognizable no matter what device it happens to be running on, some companies are discovering the benefits of allowing their employees a little more choice when it comes to user interface designs. Whilst it is normally a good idea to keep all the basic controls in the same place, giving individual employees a choice of colour schemes and fonts for the apps that they use on a regular basis can help to make them feel more in control of their working environment, which in turn can make them more productive.
To avoid having to pay out large sums of money to completely rewrite an application every couple of years, it is a good idea to insist on a design that is able to incorporate future functionality as and when it becomes desirable. Software that can be extended without breaking is much better value for money in the long run than programs that can never be updated to reflect the changing needs of your employees. This is true for Windows Phone 8 applications as well as those that target Android and iOS, so it is something that you should always bear in mind when discussing your design requirements with a software development company.
Nicole McLean is a representative of Telecom, a telecommunications corporation that
provides smartphones, such as Windows Phone 8 and other high-end phone models.