Of course, every software vendor will tell you that his software is the easiest to use ever and will shower you with testimonials from happy clients to that effect. And, of course, this will be total baloney. It's not necessarily that the vendors are intentionally trying to trick you, but everyone has different levels of technical skill, knowledge, and prior experience that will impact how easy it is for them to use a piece of software.
Here are our recommendations on how to evaluate software for these considerations:
- Always make sure that you can get access to a full trial version of the software before you consider buying. Canned demos are no substitute for trying out the software yourself. If a software vendor doesn't have a clear way to sign up for a free trial version on their site, contact them and tell them you won't consider buying their product unless you can get a proper trial!
- Pick several volunteers from your team (3 or 4).
- Select several typical tasks you want to do in your software. (Ideally, do end-to-end tasks: for example, from the member application, to finding and updating member profile by administrator, to having this member use online self-service features.) Provide your volunteers with whatever documentation is available - and let them contact the vendor's technical support, just as they would in a real-life situation.
- Ask your volunteers to rate the ease of use for each system for each task.