Improving User Speed and Efficiency with Command Search

Situation

Insight is a complex piece of software catering for a high level user who requires complexity and flexibility. This can lead to situations where users may only need certain functionality rarely; e.g. Budgeting functionality is required monthly in some use cases, but only once a year in other use cases. Certain functions are rarely used, but still required by a large proportion of our user-base, and other functions are used daily, but are only ever used by a handful of users.

To make functionality easier to find requires knowledge of our users’ needs and behaviours, and unfortunately our desire to make a “one size fits most” feature set causes some difficulties with conflicting usage needs and patterns. This inevitably leads to functions that are hard to find for some users because they are used very differently by different organisations, and as such their categorisation is impossible: It is impossible to define our “Red Routes” in a way that will be useful to our wide and varied users. This is somewhat mitigated in many cases through familiarity, but many of our important features are used only infrequently by any single user, with long periods between use, negating any benefit that familiarity might impart on finding and navigating to that functionality.

Task

Improve the speed and efficiency with which our users can find the functionality that is less commonly used, and shorten the learning curve for new users unfamiliar with out user interface.

Action

Command search is the proposed method by which we remove the need to be familiar with the navigation; if the user knows what they need to do, then they need only concern themselves with the name of the function, or with a keyword based on the task that they wish to perform.

A keyboard shortcut (ctrl+F is suggested as users are familiar to that combination as a search function, and we do not currently map any functionality to Ctrl+F) and locating the function within application menu will highlight this new functionality clearly to all users and act as a regular reminder that this is there to help them.

Result

A user who knows the principles of our software will not use the interface often enough to get used to the locations of every command that may in some cases be used once a year. This method saves a lot of time searching, as the command search option works in both the name and description fields, allowing users to search based on what they want to achieve.

New users are then no longer required to learn the location of any commands that are not part of their daily routine, and with keyword searches supported, are able to complete tasks uninterrupted; not having to consult documentation.

View this as a presentation

UX Research and Design consultancy

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