Thanks to UX pioneers, consumers now expect their digital experiences to be seamless, user-friendly, intuitive, clean, and simple — almost to the point of delightfulness. If the way they perceive the experience of using an app is anything less, they will bolt.

But business users within an enterprise app can’t run away to a competitor. They do, however, expect and deserve the same rich UX experience. Organizations who are thinking of modernizing their legacy software have a prime opportunity to bring higher levels of usability and efficiency to their users.

Modernizing a Legacy System With the End User in Mind

Designing a new customer-facing app without the consumer in mind is bordering on negligent these days. After all, rich UX is how brands distinguish themselves and keep loyal customers around.

But until recently, that “customer-centric” mentality hasn’t really caught on when the app in question is for business users.

Internal apps, vendor management, and other legacy systems have typically been designed without much thought given to the level of frustration they create. Employees simply get used to awkward interactions, clunky interfaces, cumbersome processes, poor performance, and other productivity-killing software problems.

Now, the general attitude toward business users is quickly catching up: organizations will lose business value if they redesign their internal systems without considering the end user’s experience.

What UX Modernization Looks Like

When organizations approach us to redesign their legacy systems or apps, one of our top considerations will be the user’s experience. This UX-focused approach to a legacy system or app is called “UX Modernization”.

In other words, when you upgrade a legacy system, you should also be thinking about upgrading the user experience.

The goals of UX Modernization invariably include:

  • Access. To provide employees with better access to the information they need to do their jobs
  • Third-Party Access. To facilitate easy access for external business partners who use the enterprise app
  • Efficiency. To enable users to get things done efficiently without being bogged down by badly-performing systems
  • Usability. UX impacts productivity and therefore impacts business goals

“Organizations who are thinking of modernizing their legacy software have a prime opportunity to bring higher levels of usability and efficiency to their users.”


How to Approach UX Modernization

Here are few tips for facing the challenges that arise with UX during an App Modernization project.

1. Prioritize Your Changes With the User in Mind

Employees spend a huge chunk of their time working inside enterprise systems and apps. Over time, they’ve become accustomed to whatever quirks the old apps may have. They’ve learned the workarounds they need to know in order to do their jobs. The way they interface with the old system has become second nature. Even if it’s ancient and awkward, they’re used to it — quirks and all!

By definition, an App Modernization project involves a lot of change. Internal users can be traumatized when you implement too many changes all at once. Ripping away everything they know from under them isn’t going to help with the learning curve, with attitudes toward change, or with productivity, either.

Therefore, UX in App Modernization should move forward in steps that are carefully planned to attack the most important parts of the system first. These are the parts that will have the most business value for the company… because why traumatize the end users for something that has less business value? Leave the low-priority changes for the end of the project and everyone will be a lot happier with earlier iterations.

2. Get Everyone on Board With UX

Although it may seem obvious that legacy systems should be redesigned with the end user’s UX in mind, that’s not always the case. Whenever we take on a new app modernization project, one of the first steps is to make sure we’re communicating the value of UX to everyone.

That involves discussions with stakeholders to let them know that UX affects the bottom line. Numbers always help, so it’s good to know that the research supports investment in UX improvements. For every dollar that companies invest in UX, $100 comes back, for an ROI of 9,900%.

Beyond that, we’ll also explain best practices in order to give stakeholders a frame of reference for what we have in mind, UX-wise.

“Getting everyone on board” means to consider the user and make them feel part of the process. Using UX techniques such as interviews, user testing, surveys, etc, we are taking into account the user’s opinion.

We aim to create a solution- based on their feedback- that will improve their experience.

3. Get the Client and the Users Excited About App Modernization

Any time we feel that a project isn’t sparking excitement in everyone involved, we know there’s some more work to be done. We’ve talked about aligning everyone along the same goal before, and it’s really about building relationships — with the end user, the stakeholders, and of course the team.

4. Use Design Thinking and an Iterative Methodology

Minimizing inefficiencies should always be the goal of an Application Modernization project. To keep stakeholders happy, it’s important to provide value, not just time spent running in circles implementing solutions for problems that don’t exist.

We use design thinking to ensure purpose-driven goals and Agile-based iterative methods to create an efficient approach to our solutions. Together, they form a lean UX environment. And in this environment, collaboration is the key ingredient.

5. Collaborate Across All Your Teams

Depending on how a company is organized, there may be instances where teams don’t get the chance to collaborate very much. UX in App Modernization, if done well, is often the result of cross-disciplinary collaboration. That means getting not just stakeholders and developers together but also designers, marketers, and more. Everyone should understand and agree upon the main design problem as well as the way it will be solved.

One Last Word…

App Modernization projects can pose what may seem like endless challenges at first. You have to please the end user while keeping business goals in mind. You have a complex web of collaboration going on. You have a cross-disciplinary team. You may even have to explain what UX is to the stakeholders. And those are just some of the hurdles that can pop up in a typical UX modernization project.

But if you’re serious about helping an organization move forward in an increasingly digital world, you’ll quickly come to realize that the results will be more than worth the efforts you and your team put in.