Published 31 Oct 2014
Designing for expert users is a lot different for novice or intermediate users and therefore call for different approaches. These principles are from Natalia Rozycka's talk during UX Open 2014 in Stockholm.
Applications for experts are complicated. Schedule extra time for learning what it is all about, it is going to pay off later.
It's pretty obvious for everyone that usability needs to be tested. In the case of designing application for experts it's even more important to do the initial user research.
Speak to stakeholders and take advantage of logs to find out what are the important user groups. The usual dimensions dividing your user groups are: frequency of use, role, position and geography. Make sure you have representants of all user groups in initial interviews.
Before the actual interviews, find a superuser that you can contact frequently. If it’s a redesign - ask that person to teach you the system. If it’s a new app - let them teach you the process, just as if you were supposed to take over his/her duties. Dare to ask stupid questions.
For new systems start with shadowing & in-depth interviews. For systems redesign start with usability tests & in-depth interviews. Take your time to synthesize and document the information (e.g. as mental models)
Don’t be dogmatic, especially about layouts. Listen to the reasons WHY users want weird solutions and just run usability tests often.
Interactions with other people is one of the biggest inefficiencies in experts’ daily jobs. Clarifying things with others seems to be eating a lot of mental energy. Make sure initial input form collects the data precisely enough or embed commenting and notification features.
Costs of devices are sometimes low compared to the gains such as improved data quality or more efficient interface. Think about bigger screens, mobile or connected devices.
Expert users can really suck at computers. Keep the interface as simple as possible and use well-known design patterns.