Learning together

The Design of Successful Digitalization

Johanna Pellinen 09.08.2017

Imagine a well-designed office space. The space is functional helping accomplish one’s daily tasks, a convenient space for concentrating on the work and communicating with the team. Furthermore it is beautiful, even inspiring and provides a pleasant experience whenever one enters it.

How often do we get the same experience with digital environments?

When it comes to digital environments, they are often far from top-design office spaces – the right image would be closer to a warehouse. Especially those for business use are often stuffed with drop-down menus and dozens of selections in concrete grey with little delight. Objects are placed in look-alike boxes in straight rows, all equally out of reach. When trying to accomplish a task, it is easy to forget what you were looking for before you manage to find it in such an environment.

In modern work life we use an increasing portion of our days in these environments. This is why it has become crucial to pay more attention to their user experiences and design. In fact, during our work among digital learning environments most of the problems with old solutions indicated by our customers have been related to weak user experience. Here are some key things we could identify from these discussions as useful to consider when building or selecting a digital environment.

Usability is about generating savings and increasing productivity

Usability is easily seen as a soft value of solutions, one kind of a nice-to-have feature that is easy to bypass. Nevertheless, in physical environments we all value faster and easier accomplishment of tasks. After all, it all adds up to numbers.

Take a team of 10 professionals using a software in daily basis. Let’s assume that due to weak usability of the system compared to the competitor one, they each have to use 15 minutes more of their time to accomplish their tasks. With the cost of 50€ per hour, the cost of weak usability could be roughly calculated in following way:

10 professionals * 15minutes * 20days * 50€/hour = 2500€ month, i.e. approximately 30 000€ a year.

If the same group has to use a full hour more due to badly designed work flow, the costs add up to:

10 professionals * 1 hour * 20days * 50€/hour = 10 000€ month, i.e. approximately 120 000€ a year.

Moreover, weak usability in digital environments burns our energy, causing frustration and stress. What price tag would you give for those costs?

Focusing on typical users and common use-cases delivers best results

It is intuitive for us that our work stations have to be optimized – the most important tools are available, easy to find and working efficiently. For some reason people tend to lower these requirements when it comes to digital environments.

When identifying the best opportunities to improve efficiency, the key is to focus on tasks that take a remarkable amount of our time as those are the ones generating biggest savings once optimized. What are the tasks on which we spend the largest chunks of our time? What are the things we repeat?

Recognizing the common workflows supports focusing on the most impactful things. Also, it is important to take into account the type of users the solutions are targeted for. With digital solutions it easily happens that the purchase process is driven by a technology enthusiast or a highly specialized professional whose interests and skills differ radically from the average user. This easily leads to selecting a solution that is a good fit for only a small minority of the users – causing weak adoption rates of the solution.

Integrating complementary tools allows selecting the best solutions for every use

If all the tools you could imagine needing in your work would be collected in your desktop it would probably make it impossible to find the right ones when needed. By adding a screen between you and your desktop and connect it to internet, the situation does not become any easier. This is why it makes sense to embrace simplicity and be selective on what tools to keep at hand.

Even though optimizing the most common use cases with simple and efficient solutions usually means giving up the idea of delivering all the imaginable tools within the same solution, it does not have to mean severe limitations. Flexible environments enable combining external tools. Combining different tools for special needs and rare use cases generates opportunities without sacrificing simplicity and efficiency of the most common work flow.

Focusing on outcomes instead of processes gives room for innovativeness – and efficiency

Our everyday life is composed of processes and habits we have learned. When digitizing our operations we easily try to digitize our old processes instead of delivering the targeted outcome in the most efficient way. Yet the power of digitalization lies in freeing us from the limitations of physical world and in delivering information that was costly or even impossible to gain in a physical environment. This is why going digital is a great opportunity to review our processes and innovate.

With digital, trying new approaches and learning from them is easier than ever. A great amount of services are available on cloud and easy to pilot in small scale before making organization-wide changes or big purchases. Unlike with physical environments, with digital ones trying out different solutions is faster and more agile than ever.

Life is to be made beautiful

The interior design of an office space is not only about abstract aesthetic values. The impression of the main lobby or the office spaces affects both the brand image and the daily experience and mood of the employees. Aesthetics have played an important part of our lives and experiences from the very beginning, and going digital does not change our longing for beauty.

In digital, with well-designed solutions it is easy to deliver beautiful and delightful experiences. As we use remarkable part of our days online, it makes sense to prefer solutions that provide us pleasing experiences and have positive impact on our mood. A good digital service never gets tired to communicate with you with a friendly tone, nor does it lose its temper as people do.


Digitalization should not be a trend of lowering our expectations about our working environments. Instead, it should facilitate innovativeness and re-design of our work-flows, delivering efficiency and a better working experience. Whether it is acknowleged, user experience will have an impact on both our mood and the numbers.