Supporting IT Solutions: The Human Element

Users don’t read.

That’s a guiding principle behind modern software design, written or unwritten; user behavior has been studied exhaustively to develop intuitive GUIs and reduce the inevitable “how do I…” support calls. Makes sense, really – when was the last time you went to the Help section of a new app rather than just diving in?

Joel Spolsky, CEO of Stack Exchange, puts it this way in his Designing for People Who Have Better Things To Do With Their Lives post on his blog:

When you design user interfaces, it’s a good idea to keep two principles in mind:

  1. Users don’t have the manual, and if they did, they wouldn’t read it.
  2. In fact, users can’t read anything, and if they could, they wouldn’t want to.

Speaks to you, doesn’t it? Oh, and Joel wrote this in 2000 – getting users to use software properly has been a problem ever since the first application was released into the wild.


Benefactors of Good Design

Of course as users we appreciate applications and systems that don’t require us to crack open a manual or pick up a phone to call a support tree before we can start using them, but there are additional motivators behind the creation of no-assistance-required software. In fact, it’s more and more necessary for developers to create software that’s easy and enjoyable to use. The overriding reason for that necessity? Scale.

When Microsoft first exceeded $1 million in revenues in 1978, they had been in operation for 3 years and were creating software and handling support with 13 employees. Fast forward to today where it takes tens of thousands of downloads (per day) just to crack the front page of the App Store and it quickly becomes apparent that you either need good, intuitive design helping your users through your software, or a much bigger team than this to handle the support calls:

Of course, we’ve all encountered the dreaded automated support systems. Have you tried calling Google lately?


Is Good Design Enough?

So yes, a properly written, modern application is good for the user, and it’s good the developer. It’s also pretty great for your average IT department or managed service provider – they have plenty to keep them busy besides solving PEBCAK issues.

Sometimes, however, solid software isn’t sufficient. In instances where a solutions partner is appropriate, well-designed solutions should be paired with an accessible (and human) support team. This is where the choice of a partner becomes crucial – sure, that demo software you just tried is pretty slick, and you got through a scaled test alright, but unless you’re a subject matter expert on the problem you’re attempting to solve, chances are you could benefit from having a phone number to someone who knows you, your environment, and how to implement the solution you need. You need a partner with human-powered support who you can actually reach when you need (or just want) to.


Wrapping It Up: Need Some Help?

If you’re reading this and realizing that you need a partner to help you ensure that the data crucial to your company is adequately protected, you may want to read the whitepaper I’ve made available on choosing a cloud backup service provider:

At Armada Cloud, we provide human-powered support to supplement our Asigra + Oracle powered enterprise-class data protection solutions. We recognize the value in well-crafted software & hardware solutions, but we don’t leave it at that. We believe in the human factor.

Drop me a message if you’re seeking peace of mind in your backup and recovery solution, need assistance in crafting a disaster recovery plan, or just realized your business continuity procedures need some attention. We’re here to help.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a software development partner who can help you create well-designed software that doesn’t have users searching for how-tos, let me know – we can help with that too.

Do you have a data protection partner who’s providing the peace of mind you need? If not, contact us.

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