Simplicity is often referred to as one of the fundamental principles in software development. So why then is school software notoriously complicated and difficult-to-use?
Over the years technology has slowly evolved with a focus towards ease-of-use, however it seems as though school software is lagging behind.
And one of the reasons for this is because schools typically purchase new software based off its features and technical ability alone, and fail to recognise one of the most crucial elements to making any kind of boarding school software work – Simple User Experience.
As a result, daily users of the software are often left with a solution that “ticks all the boxes” but ends up being too complex, clunky and slow to use.
We think this needs to change and believe that it’s paramount for boarding schools to understand the importance of simplicity in boarding school software.
Why is simplicity important?
There are many reasons why simplicity plays a key role for software in boarding schools:
- Boarding staff need software that’s easy-to-use: Most boarding staff aren’t prone to using technology, simply because it’s not a primary skill. Their primary focus is to provide the best daily care for their students and that’s exactly why software needs to be as simple and easy-to-use as possible. So they can quickly login, do what they need to do and carry on with other more important duties.
- Complex isn’t always reliable: When it’s your responsibility to look after somebody else’s child, it’s essential to have systems in place that you can rely on. However a lot of complicated products tend to be victims of “feature creeping” – When more and more features are added to a product too quickly without being thought out properly (usually in an effort to make a quick sale).
When this happens the original value of the product is lost and the result is a “hacky solution” that’s unreliable and highly susceptible to “software bloat” – The process where software becomes inefficient and increasingly prone to instability, bugs and crashes.
- Everyone needs to be onboard: Implementing software at school is a big process that requires commitment from everyone involved. But since complicated software is inherently difficult to use, staff who aren’t tech-savvy tend to struggle to adapt to the transition.
Simple software on the other hand is a lot easier for everyone to grasp, and can even be enjoyable to use. Once it becomes a joy to use, they’re more likely to embrace the system and engage in higher levels of participation. Resulting in a far greater benefits and return on your investment.
Finding the right balance
Whilst simplicity and ease-of-use is key, making sure that software actually helps you achieve your goals is just as important. However trying to find a solution that meets both of these requirements can be a bit tricky.
Feature packed products that appear to “tick all the boxes” are often over-complicated and have underlying stability issues, whilst products that are over-simplified may not have the functionality you need.
A good exercise is to prioritise your most important tasks. This will help you to find a solution that best suits your needs and will also help you to realise which features aren’t as important.
Your aim should be to find a solution that enables you to do your core tasks in the simplest and easiest way possible. You might have to sacrifice some of your more “nice-to-have” features, but at the end of the day, boarding school software that focuses on your core daily tasks will give you better results when compared to systems that do everything poorly.
And remember, good things take time. Innovative software providers are always improving their system and chances are, they’ll have your missing features in their product roadmap already.
The complicated thing about simplicity
Simplicity is an incredibly complex thing to achieve. At first this might sound like a juxtaposition. After all, how hard can it be to design something simple?
But what you need to understand, is that the true complex and sophisticated nature of software lies “under the hood,” beneath the visual interface you normally interact with. Thus, the art of simplicity is embodied in the way the code is designed, constructed and architected behind the scenes, to present you with a clean and simplified experience. Simplicity truly is the ultimate sophistication.
But in our opinion, simplicity isn’t just limited to the product itself. It extends beyond the product and encapsulates your entire experience. It includes everything from how easy it is to initially get started, how maintenance and upgrades are handled to eliminate downtime, as well as how quick and easy the customer support is.
All these things play a role in the overall simplicity and user-experience of a product and are important factors you should take note of when considering software at your boarding school.
5 questions to ask when evaluating simplicity:
- Is it easy to use? This speaks for itself. A product with intuitive design that’s simple to use will help you to complete your important tasks with greater efficiency.
- Do your staff enjoy using it? Your house and dorm staff will most likely be the people using the system everyday, so it’s important that they’re happy. Ask your staff for their feedback and take it on board when making your final decision.
- How easy is it to get started? Smooth implementation is key to making any kind of software successful, so it’s worthwhile to evaluate how simple it is to get started. What’s the process for uploading your information? Do they integrate with your school management system? Do they provide training to help your staff get on board?
- Will maintenance and upgrades be disruptive? Maintenance and upgrades are necessary components of software, but if they aren’t handled properly, they can interfere with your daily duties which is not a great experience. So it can be useful to know if they have the facilities to perform maintenance and upgrades at times that best suit you?
- How easy is it to contact support? Quick and helpful customer support is necessary to ensure you have a healthy on-going experience. If you need help, how easy is it for you to contact support, and what is their average response time?
Simplifying Boarding Administration at Boardingware
In boarding, your students come first, however things like managing leave, daily check-in’s, roll calls and pastoral records are all tasks that take time away from your students. You should be spending less time on administration and more time building relationships with them.
That’s why we’ve placed such a massive focus on simplicity, because if we can make your management processes as quick and easy to do as possible, you’ll be able to finally focus on more important matters.
Simplicity has been a core value that we have incorporated into every aspect of our company. Our rich design background coupled with our team of skilled developers has enabled us to innovate simplicity in boarding management software like never before.
Click here to get a live demonstration of Boardingware and see for yourself, just how simple boarding can be.