DNA Labs: The legacy of legacy.

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The technology explosion we’ve seen in the last decade in particular has fundamentally changed how customers interact with organisations and how organisations' internal systems work. Over the last few years organisations have begun waking up to this new reality and begun to design services, products and tools with users in mind. 

Early adopters.
Web designers and developers have been quick to respond to this user centric reality, resulting in responsive websites which modify to meet the user. Sites and App’s can now adapt to user context to display content and adapt interaction to suit. E-Commerce companies reacted early by conducting massive amounts of user research to improve conversion and have since adapted to meet changing user expectations and capitalise on unmet needs. New services and startups have taken new technologies and user patterns seriously and disrupted major industries – all very fast and often with much smaller teams.

Laggards.
Internal systems, tools and transactional services have been slow to catch up. Those that were first to be created in the original technology rush are now coming late to the party. Software development has now existed for close to 40 years and the tools, processes and technology that have supported this industry have missed some fundamental concerns. 

As organisations have begun to review external and internal systems there have been some surprising realisations about the tools, systems or services being barely used, badly used or circumvented due to the lack of user empathy of legacy systems. 

Companies have found that core systems used to process or calculate business critical decisions have been circumvented in favour of simple spreadsheets which are just easier to use. Services such as Facebook and devices like the iPhone have offered beautiful and functional user interfaces, which has in turn caused users' expectations to soar. This has meant tools which were once well used, are now described as archaic, slow and difficult to use.

A gaping hole.
What this means for many a well known process is they now have gaping and often glaring holes. The legacy approach, with business requirements first and foremost, has led to products which are technically sound, but hard, confusing and frustrating to use. Business requirements have covered off 'what' is required, not 'how’. 

How products work can mean the difference between massive user adoption and complete abandonment. Features are important, but not if 'how' they work isn't considered. The 'how' must be considered for individual features and forinteractions and journeys as a whole. Beginning to build products before the users needs are clear, or before the 'how' is understood is leading to large scale failures.

User empathy.
The only way forward is to factor users into how software is created, to ensure what is created not only works but is used. As these systems are created, project teams must understand the context and requirements of their users. User context, empathy, research and insight is just as important as business or technical context. Usability requirements, accessibility requirements, and performance requirements are all just as important as business requirements. Both user and business needs must be considered – both business and user value must be balanced.

Factoring this angle into large scale interactions, services and products is where DNA is oriented to help our customers. The user-centred approaches and UX tools we've developed have created exceptional products, helped guide companies and projects to unlock innovation and value and often transcended original project objectives to help other areas of the business understand who they're interacting with and how to make this interaction meaningful and valuable.

John Milmine _ Technical Director.

DNA Labs is our open dialogue on some of the CX, research, design, digital and development challenges we’ve faced, the issues we've resolved, the outcomes we've delivered and the value resulting.