UX Equation: Perception ≠ Reality

Subverting old assumptions about enterprise software.

At Facebook, we love inspiring our community by finding fun and simple ways to share our research insights and findings. In this series, we ask our researchers to define their favorite “UX Equation” — a simple mathematical way of showing how they build great experiences for people. This week’s guest star: Carol Farnsworth.

In my role working with enterprise tools, I often have to overcome assumptions about enterprise software. Because it’s long been notorious for its complexity, difficulty, and overall clunkiness, research participants may bring low expectations to their experiences with it. I often have to nudge them — and sometimes even my product team — to expect the same kind of ease and power we all take for granted with consumer-oriented tools. That’s why my favorite go-to UX equation is perception ≠ reality.
One tool I work on helps Facebook managers manage the open positions on their team. When I joined the team, this tool wasn’t inherently intuitive or easy to adopt. When an infrequent user couldn’t quickly figure out how to do what they wanted, they often passed the task along to a different team — perpetuating the idea that work tools are “just the way it is.” 
The reality is that we can design work products that solve very specific problems and are easy to use, even for infrequent users. For example, instead of needing 12 steps to make a change to an open position, a manager can now do it easily on one page. In response, we’re getting more comments like: “This is easier than I expected. I can make the changes on my own.” 
The most gratifying thing about feedback like that is that it represents one more little shift toward a more positive — and more demanding — perception of enterprise tools. Which in turn will help create a more satisfying reality.

Carol currently works on tools for Jobs, the internal Facebook marketplace that helps match employees with teams.

Illustration: Henrique Athayde