If you want to get the user experience right, you will need to concentrate on processes before you start worrying about selecting the right supporting web development tools.
As mentioned in one of my recent blog posts, more providers and businesses are paying attention to the user experience platform (UXP), a framework covering skills, processes, standards and technologies for User Experience.
Major analysts, such as Gartner, IDC and Forrester are already paying significant attention to the user experience. Expect that attention to become more focused, because UXP is likely to become one of the key business IT phrases during the next year-or-so.
There is likely to a great deal of focus on how web applications are designed and which tools will help produce a customer-friendly experience. But building the application is only part of the problem.
While a focus on development and technology in UXP is important, your business will actually need to place most of its focus on process and measurement first– and a series of supporting applications will be needed.
First, creating wireframes and visualising the application long before it is fully developed as an application is absolutely crucial. Prototyping – and being able to modify the code simply to meet user needs – is the key here.
Second, user experience metrics tools will also be significant in assessing usability. Without the correct analytical tools, how will you measure user satisfaction and make the right modifications to maximise the efficiency and effectivness of users?
Third, apart from usability your marketing team will want to validate that you have adopted their online branding guidelines. You don’t want to upset the marketeers, they hold most of the budget when it comes to UXP.
Fourth, you will need to provide a series of supporting documents. Providing the right documentation through the whole design process is a fundamental tenet of providing a strong UXP.
Finally, you will need to provide the right test ground to check how the application works in different browsers, is not open to security issues and performs well for during maximum usage.
If that sounds overly complicated, think again: establishing the right UXP is far from simple for a reason. In short, the right presentation layer relies on the right underlying processes.
All these elements must be considered long before you worry about the development tools – such as Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe Flex – that will help you build your perfect web page.
Get the processes right and you will be able to meet customer-friendly web applications that meet a broad range of users expectations and tastes.