B2b eCommerce – How non-functional requirements impact user experience
User experience is the heart of any successful eCommerce business and we can’t even talk about it without calling attention to non-functional requirements and how these two things tie together.
Nonfunctional requirements are just as critical as functional features of any eCommerce website. NFRs ensure the usability and effectiveness of the entire system. Failing to meet any one of them can result in failing to satisfy both internal business needs as well as your users’ needs.
What are Non-Functional Requirements? NFRs are among the most important things to define when building the requirements for a mobile ordering platform, as most have a direct impact on the experience and satisfaction of the users of the order entry platform.
Typically, we find and focus on the functional requirements, such as what will happen during the order entry process when a user clicks the “add to cart” button or when they input a search term. These functions are tangible, easy to understand, and typically define the behavior of a system based on user interactions.
A non-functional requirement is a little less tangible but is no less important.
Non-functional requirements dictate speed
There are many types of NFRs, but one of the most important for B2b eCommerce is time. Defining speed is actually a lot more complex than it sounds. Consider a mobile ordering platform: how many clicks it takes to order, how quickly product information is displayed when queried and how long from install it takes to place the first order.
Different pages throughout an online order entry platform will load at different speeds due to the differences in byte size and complexity, as well as the operating system, browser, and network having a big impact on page load times. Mobile apps that require an online connection are also held to these standards.
In a B2b eCommerce situation a complex order entry processes can slow or even halt an order from being submitted and the revenue from being realized. The problem is that NFRs need to be dictated by the intended end use and type of end user. Typically, they are dictated by the technical confinements of the platform and the wants of the developer without consideration of what the end user NEEDS.
In this B2b eCommerce example mobile ordering platform that is designed to live on the device and offer the fewest clicks to order will be the most widely adopted and utilized.
Other non-functional requirements to consider for order entry
There are other NFRs, all of which can have a critical impact on the performance, scalability, and usability of your mobile ordering platform. These include:
- Security – it is important to specify the level of security that should be met such
- Privacy – meeting basic requirements for GDPR
- Scalability and performance – can the system scale to meet expected current and future traffic and order volume at normal and peak times
- Speed user journeys – defining how long each step in the mobile order process takes
- Speed of services – defining how services will take to provide a response
- Accessibility – ensuring that the platform meets the basic accessibility standards throughout
- Documentation and Usability – ensuring that the platform is sufficiently documented and easy to understand with minimal or no training
- Quality – even the best mobile ordering platforms can be poorly designed, so code should be developed to a good quality standard
- Extensibility – ensuring that the platform is extended in such a way to make future development feasible
- Data integrity and retention – defining how long data should be stored and reviewable
- Testing – defining how unit testing will be built into the solution
- Compatibility – ensuring that the platform can be easily integrated with 3rd party systems
- Search – defining how quickly the system will return search results on and off line
- Infrastructure – defining the performance thresholds (CPU and memory usage)
Although this isn’t the complete list it’s is a good starting point for an B2b eCommerce platform that includes order entry.
NFRs define the overall quality of the order entry platform
NFRs essentially define the quality of your platform and separates one platform from another. Separate your order entry platform into two groups function and non-functional requirements. The functional will help you define the what it does, but the non-functional will define how well it does what it does.
Without correctly defining the non-functional you may hit all of your functional requirements, but still deliver an unsatisfactory product that is under used and maybe not even adopted. If you have not specifically defined these specifications, they cannot really be held responsible. Many B2b eCommerce projects in the past have failed or become much more costly than expected due to a lack of definition.