1. How easy are the forms?
- Forms are short - The shorter the forms are, the faster and easier they are to complete. Enough said here.
- Forms are clean - Dirty forms will have a ton of fields on the screen, many you will never use. Ideally, forms should be customizable so you are in control of the layout and how much information is being asked for.
- Forms are easy to follow - Is it easy to follow what information you are supposed be entering and when? CMMS forms should guide users so they don't have to think about what to do next.
- Forms make use of keyboard functions - Certain keyboard functions like tabbing to move from field to field or using the enter key to move between form steps will make data entry faster and easier.
- Forms are easy to fill out on mobile devices - You will want to make sure forms are just as easy to use on mobile devices as they are on desktops or laptops. They should also take advantage of mobile specific touch functions that could help with completing forms.
2. Is it easy to navigate?
- Common functions are available from the main menu - The main menu should include links to features that you plan on using often.
- Navigation elements are clear - Navigation elements should be clear about where they link to or what you can accomplish by clicking them. Nothing is more frustrating than clicking a link that takes you somewhere you didn't want to go.
- Navigation menus are mobile friendly - Providing easy navigation on small screens can be tricky but it's absolutely necessary. Well designed CMMS applications will consider the same "minimal action" philosophy regarding mobile navigation.
3. Is the user interface clean and consistent?
- Appropriate use of icons - Icons tend to be overused in applications today and they can be particularly frustrating to new users when they don't provide context as to what they do. Ideally, uncommon icons should be paired with text to make their purpose clear and easy to understand.
- Interfaces are focused on a few features - Each interface should be designed to focus on a small set of features. It can be quite obvious when a CMMS application is trying to provide too much when there are buttons, inputs, and other elements present that you rarely use. These "rarely used" features should be broken out into different interfaces or hidden until needed.
- It is visually consistent and easy on the eyes - There are many design aspects of applications that determine how visually appealing they are and these aspects make up the first impressions of an application. If things look out of place or there is a lack of size, color, and layout consistency, it can be distracting from a usability standpoint. Consistency in layouts and button functions makes it easier to learn a new CMMS.
4. Is it easy to manage mistakes?
- Mistakes are easy to undo - If a mistake was made such as deleting a record by mistake, there should be an easy way to undo that mistake either by users or support representatives.
- There are barriers to human error - Barriers to human error should be built into the software. For instance, email fields should be smart enough to recognize when a value is not a valid email and notify the user. Users should also be notified if they are about to make changes that cannot be undone. These notifications typically take the form of verification popups or some other form of action verification. These built in catches help prevent unintentional errors.
- Record updates are logged - When changes are made to records in a CMMS, there should be a log of each change made to the record, when it happened, and who made the change. This helps identify when mistakes were made and who made them if they weren't discovered right away.
- Records can be edited en masse - If there are mistakes that span several records or if processes change that require records to be updated, there should be an easy way to update many records at the same time to set things right.