Monday, May 26, 2008

CMS Providers-- Take Note! Familiarity Rules!

Last week I had the privilege of leading a church through the final stages of selecting a CMS (Church Management Software). This was a megachurch with multi-site needs, and the process went well. At the end of two days of meetings they had selected a finalist and identified the due-process steps they'd take this week to prove the selection before entering into a contract with them.

I observed something as we watched in-person demos from the four finalists:

User Familiarity. I think I first heard this term from my colleague, Steve Bauserman, as he was describing to the CITRT in Houston last year what they hoped to achieve in the solution they were developing. It stuck with me because it made sense.
User familiarity, in contrast to user friendliness, means the software interface is something the user feels is familiar right out of the gate. The advantages are that it's less intimidating, and more likely to be used by the entire staff.

One of the demos this week, ACS, showed a resource/facility scheduling program that had an Outlook-like interface. The church staff was especially excited about this product that seemed full-featured and was familiar. I encourage all CMS solution providers to look at their products and see how they can adopt a familiar interface. I wrote an article last year saying that Outlook has become the killer app... maybe this is the interface of choice since users all over the globe use it so regularly.
In this highly competitive niche where we're all trying to empower CMS users to build The kingdom, familiarity can help!


Tony Dye said...

The discussion of "familiar" (or easy, or friendly, or many other such terms) goes way back. It got a good bit of dialogue on ChMS discuss a while back, and I even posted something on it last July:, which was actually a follow-up to some earlier discussions. All that to say, YES, "familiar" is a very good thing!

Bob Langer said...

Thank you for your insight. I have been working on an upgrade and have included an Outlook pane for the most frequently used functions of our Easy Church Membership.

It has not been released yet but will be soon.

Again, thanks.

Bless you and yours,

Bob Langer - Founder
RCL Software - A Christian Software Development Ministry
P.O. Box 5474
Suffolk, Virginia

Nick Nicholaou said...

Way to go, Bob! You're among those CMS providers that are leading the pack!

Anonymous said...

At White Mountain Software we totally agree. ChurchWatch Version 5 has a brand new, powerful, scheduling system that mimics Microsoft outlook. It was designed that way to reduce the learning curve for users.

Paul Weisberg
White Mountain Software

Nick Nicholaou said...

That's great, Paul! White Mountain is ahead of the curve on that!