Whenever I design business software, I imagine three stages that I need to design for. See figure below.
How good does it show to someone who has no idea how this thing works? In other words, how much will this feature help the sales rep. Generally, I design for the intermediate user, which doesn’t demo as well as it should. You need to include eye candy and charts to demo properly. Additionally, good progressive disclosure allows the interface to seem simple to fresh eyes.
If you ignore the demo stage, you won’t make the sale.
Much of this stage is about how someone gets educated on the product. Problems relating to bootstrapping or setup will cause this stage to fall apart. Some systems are not friendly at first and get better later on. Doing a good job on this stage will yield more champions and referrals. All too often, customers get stuck in this stage and end up putting the software on the shelf.
If you ignore the First Week stage, you won’t renew the contract because they won’t use the software.
Personally, this is my favorite part to design. All stages are important, but this one is my sweet spot. It is about making the product ACTUALLY usable. This doesn’t mean intuitive. Intuitive is about the First Week. Ongoing Use is about how you use it after you know HOW to use it. Is the framework slow? Are there too many clicks to do simple things? Are there keyboard shortcuts? Make it easy for intermediate users and you will have a product people care about.
If you ignore the Ongoing Use stage, you will have a product people hate using.
All of these stages are important and not every feature is meant to be great on every stage. However, in the whole product you need enough of each to satisfy customers. If in doubt, focus on that Ongoing Use one.
Grade your feature in this context and see how you measure up.