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Whether from personal or professional experiences, most everyone is familiar with the frustration of using technology that doesn’t work well. Complicated tech wastes time, causes frustration and leaves users searching for workarounds or abandoning it altogether.

Frustrations can be amplified on the jobsite, where field workers are contending with challenging environments, tight deadlines and, of course, the pressure to build right the first time. If technology provided to field workers isn’t suited to their experiences, they won’t adopt it. The recent Constructed Disconnected industry report found that although construction businesses around the world are adopting mobile solutions to provide better access to data and improve productivity in the field, only about 18% of those companies consistently use them as intended.

Focusing on the user experience enables businesses to select technology that its employees actually want to use. And finding the technologies employees actually want to use requires finding providers that understand what a great user experience means.

Jobsites have unique requirements

The jobsite presents unique challenges for construction technology to overcome. Work is often completed in extreme, rugged environments exposed to the elements -- strong winds, glare from the sun, etc. Field workers might have to contend with the high altitude of a skyscraper one day, and then go deep underground the next day. 

Construction technology has to perform seamlessly and consistently, no matter the environment its users are in. To ensure that is the case, technology providers need to do some user research -- spend time in field workers’ shoes and collect feedback from them to truly understand their everyday environments. That means considering factors like the glare from the sun and how it will impact people using the tool. Technology providers can only understand how to improve visibility in glare environments if they spend the time in that environment doing user experience research. That research informs design decisions as simple – but as vital – as ensuring that each colour used in the product is easily visible, making the platform usable in the unique environments it will be used in. 

Technology has to be accessible all skill levels 

When it comes to familiarity with technology, the construction workforce is pretty diverse. Seasoned workers might lack digital skills and confidence, as many businesses have only recently introduced field technology to their projects. At the same time, younger workers might have spent their whole lives using technology with impeccable design, and have no patience for something that is difficult to use. 

To deliver technology that appeals to both ends of this spectrum, providers have to offer a design that facilitates easy learning and also easily helps get work done. 

Simple design is likely the answer, because it is accessible for all users. A simple interface is not only easy for beginners to digest, but more tech-savvy users will also appreciate it. Plus, simple design can still be powerful enough for advanced functionalities. 

Users don’t want more work

A poor user experience can hinder productivity. A complicated, opaque interface will slow the team down, forcing workers to follow the intricacies of difficult processes. The construction industry needs solutions that make their lives easier -- not ones that add more work to their days. To ensure they are adding value to users’ lives, providers have to build solutions as seamless as possible. 

Seamless design is particularly important for the flow of project information. Accessing the right information when it’s needed, for example, is critical to jobsite performance. Being able to hyperlink key information to a drawing for easy reference, or quickly export key data can save significant amounts of time in the field and help keep workers moving throughout their day. Seamlessness in design eases frustrations that could otherwise arise from having to manually flip between different information silos. That manual back and forth could easily start to feel clunky, and add more processes and administrative work to the user’s already busy day, decreasing chances of adoption. 

Putting User Experience First

The most effective construction technology starts with the user. Finding providers that stay engaged with the user’s needs and use cases is critical for implementing technology solutions that will work in practice and be adopted. Working with partners that put the end users’ needs first will ensure that technology investments are successful, and that the construction industry at large truly benefits.

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