Cloud computing has revolutionized the way we work, but has it also revolutionized user experience and web usability? Guestblogger Lexie Lu takes a closer look at cloud computing’s UX
You’ve almost certainly heard reports about how cloud computing helps corporations archive and access their files, streamlines the processes for logistics and manufacturing teams, and allows call center representatives to access identical data about customers whether they’re stationed in Malaysia or Maui. Writing for Justinmind, designer and guestblogger Lexie Lu takes a look at cloud computing’s impact, honing in on how it has changed user experience of the web.
Cloud computing has nearly made lost work a non-issue
If you’ve ever dealt with a computer crash in the middle of typing an important document, you’re familiar with the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach: all that time and work lost in the space of a second! However, thanks to web-based interfaces like Google Drive, it’s almost impossible to lose large amounts of work in the Cloud.
Specifically, Google Drive saves every keystroke you make. That means if you do experience a tech-related failure, you can simply log back onto Google Drive via a laptop, desktop or even a tablet and recover a version of your document that’s almost certainly more recent than what might have gotten saved as an Auto Recovery file in Microsoft Word. No more lost work emergencies.
Cloud computing ensures greater productivity
We live in an increasingly mobile society, and a growing number of people are choosing to complete work outside of traditional office environments. According to statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in July last year, 24 percent of people did at least part of their work from home in 2015, and some individuals within that segment were entirely home-based workers.
Statistics like those are arguably much easier to achieve thanks to the consistent user experience that’s common to cloud-based websites and apps. Due to the capabilities of the associated technology, a person can log into a cloud-based interface and see the same data depending on if they do so from a tablet device in a Manhattan co-working space or a laptop computer at their New Jersey residence.
When users know what their experiences will be like across the board, they should find it’s easier to harness maximum productivity without wasting time. Furthermore, since most cloud-based Web apps aren’t overly impacted by operating system differences, it’s more likely that documents viewed on a Windows platform and a Macintosh computer will look exactly the same or nearly identical.
Cloud-based hosting services could indirectly help you find information faster
Many of today’s leading businesses have decided to give their patronage to cloud-based hosting services. That’s because cloud servers are generally faster, more stable and highly economical compared to traditional, on-site servers.
In addition to boosting website loading times, cloud-based servers improve SEO performance. That could mean you discover pertinent information more quickly as you surf the web, which ultimately causes you to become more productive online.
Get back on track faster with Cloud-based tech support
Cloud technology has already changed the IT industry in major ways, and it seems likely to continue doing so moving forward. By using cloud-based technology, it’s easier to get on-demand tech support. That means a web user may be able to get their computer fixed even if there isn’t a computer specialist available to make a house call within 200 miles. Recently, the Control4 Corporation even announced cloud-based support for some of its routers. Company representatives can reduce on-site service calls by performing remote diagnostics, including speed tests.
You’d likely agree that technology works great as long as it functions properly, but it creates a whole lot of headaches when things go wrong. If you take advantage of tech support offered through the cloud, it might mean less downtime and more relaxation.
Money management and accounting duties have gotten simpler and more streamlined
Not too long ago, the main ways of checking a bank account balance consisted of dialing a designated phone number or visiting a branch in person to request a printed statement. Online banking has now taken command as a popular way to access accounts, and the availability of finance-related, cloud-based web interfaces and apps has grown rapidly, too.
Businesses often depend on cloud-based Internet apps to streamline accounting necessities. Similarly, everyday people who are concerned about saving and spending log onto cloud-based apps like Mint that sync up with their bank accounts and immediately display details about expenses and deposits.
It’s no longer necessary to use platform-specific software when keeping track of funds. Cloud-based technology keeps all the information easily accessed and uniformly available, regardless of operating systems or devices.
Talk to colleagues from afar without racking up huge phone bills
Services like GoToMeeting and Skype use cloud technology to help people feel closer to each other, even if the actual distance between them is vast. Amazon has also thrown its hat into the ring by offering Chime, a video-based calling service that works around the globe.
Users access Chime via a pay-as-you-go license and can enjoy wideband noise-canceling audio technology, plus enter group calls without having to enter PIN codes.
Cloud security blunders can tarnish User Experience
So far, we’ve looked at several ways cloud computing has changed online user experience for the better, but in closing, let’s look at one potential way the associated technology could make user experience worse: security shortcomings.
The unfortunately common occurrence of getting your debit card information compromised because someone used a skimmer to obtain payment details is probably enough to make you think twice about using an ATM to get cash and might make you want to change banks. However, think how much worse you’d feel if you got a call from a cloud-technology provider and were told you were one of 60,000 users who got their data stolen during a security breach.
Such an occurrence could override all positive user experiences you had with the company and its products, and make you ultimately decide that even though some features of the cloud-based web technology seemed worthwhile, the possible security risks are just too prohibitive. Generally, cloud facilities have best practices in place for keeping files secure, but because of the data volumes they possess, hackers may feel more tempted to target them.
Cloud computing and User Experience – the final word
You now have detailed insight about many positive attributes — and one negative possibility — associated with cloud computing and user experience. Hopefully you’ll find this information helpful, especially if you’re looking for ways to improve the way you use the Internet with cloud-based technologies.
Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She enjoys researching the latest web design trends, manages Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.