Dynamics CRM and User Experience (UX)

One of my CRM giants, Jukka Niiranen, has posted a great post on User Experience (UX) and Dynamics CRM; “10 Tips for Designing a Great User Experience in Dynamics CRM

Today, I wanted to add a few more insights to his post and expand on it a bit more. The goal of the post is to get a better comprehension of UX and how it can be used when configuring your Dynamics CRM organization.

What is User Experience (UX)

First off all, User Experience, or just UX, has no official definition and is thus open for interpretation. You can scour the web and find different meanings:

“The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features.”Nielsen-Norman Group

“User experience = Convenience + Design – Cost.
Convenience is the king. What makes a product convenient is quite often what makes it usable. It might also relate to the availability of the product. It might also have something to do with laziness and productivity. Defining “convenience” is by no means an easy task. As is with everything else in this chart, convenience is subjective. Design is what makes a product liked and attractive, even before it has been used. Design is what makes you want the product. It is beauty, the touch of a famous designer, a likable company, character—pretty much what brand value is thought to be. Cost is … cost. How much money do you need to shell out to have the product.”Nyman

“Comprehends all aspects of digital products and services that users experience directly—and perceive, learn, and use—including products’ form, behavior, and content, but also encompassing users’ broader brand experience and the response that experience evokes in them. Key factors contributing to the quality of users’ experience of products are learnability, usability, usefulness, and aesthetic appeal.” – Pabini Gabriel-Petit on UXmatters

Moreover, User Experience can have a different connotation, based on the user of a system:

  • For an Information Technology Professional? Adoption, happy customers, happy executives
  • For a Business Decision Maker? Employee retention, increased sales
  • For an end user? Life balance, loving their work and success

FYI: you can find an entire list here

Why bother with User Experience?

This is probably the most stupid question you could ask. A software program is only as good as the experience it brings to its users. Next to the experience, UX can also simplify the use of the system and increase the productivity of its users. Microsoft backs this up with some important numbers:

Click and Screen efficiency

Though not a complete metric of productivity, a good picture of the improvement in CRM 2013 can be visualized simply by evaluating the reduction in the number of windows and clicks required to accomplish specific tasks. In the case below, we illustrate the Lead to Cash scenario. This scenario starts with an existing lead already entered into the system and processes it in a straightforward manner until the opportunity is closed.

Click and screen efficiency

Time to Complete Tasks

The time to complete a task is a key measure of overall productivity improvement. This measures the time it takes a sales user to complete a task.

Task time

Yes, you did read that well, according to Microsoft’s studies, users need 20% less time to complete a task after upgrading from an older version to the 2013 version. Keep in mind that these studies are built on Out Of the Box environments. If your organisation has been customized, it might take users a bit longer to get used to the new environment.

How did User Experience effect the design of Dynamics CRM 2013?

Microsoft has it’s own view on User Experience, which has been explained in this video:

The new Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a cleaner, faster and more intuitive user interface, all to drive your productivity. In this video, Eric Boocock, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft Dynamics shows new elements like the touch enabled navigation model, a new version of the customer record, a new command bar and more. Eric also demos the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in Firefox.

In the CRM2013UXWhitePaper, Microsoft explains their UX vision, which led them to redesigning Dynamics CRM 2013. This is built on 4 principles:

  • Simple: Focus on the essential tasks with a clear, consistent purpose that matches user intention
  • Usable: Measure usability iteratively, incorporate feedback into designs
  • Modern: Apply principles of modern user interface design inspired by Windows 8 to create delightful, engaging, and process-centric experiences
  • Fast: Design and deliver great perceived productivity and performance.

Do you agree with them? Are these principles used in Dynamics CRM 2013/2015?

How can you use UX in your own CRM organization?

We had the what, why and the how of User Experience, lets focus now on how you can use UX to your benefit when setting up / customizing / configuring your Dynamics CRM environment.


Simplify the navigation as much as possible by hiding (or disabling) menus which are not used. Nobody cares about buttons they do not use. This means:

  • Open the XrmToolbox and modify the sitemap.
  • Remove related records in the navigation wich have already a subgrind on the form.
  • Put the most used entities first
  • When in doubt, ask yourself; “is there another place where users see this info and is this logical?”
    • if yes: remove
    • if no: keep


Make as much data available on one screen, without overcrowding it. Users like to have as much info as possible, without needing to click through to another record. This means:

  • Modify views so that they contain all the important info (Default views suck, so please modify them).
  • Adjust the sorting of your records and the width of the columns
  • Remove default views which are not used


You can put every available field on the account form, but do users really need to have all of them? Dynamics CRM comes with a lot of standard fields, right out of the box, which are useless to most of users. You should do something about it. This means:

  • Remove fields which are not used (this one is pretty obvious).
  • Use business rules to hide/show fields
  • Use custom code to hide/show entire tabs

Data input

Nobody likes to put in dozens of hours, inputting data into the system. This should be automated and simplified as much as possible. This means:

  • Make sure users never need to input data two times
  • Use business rules to set field values based on other fields
  • Use workflows to create records and data
  • Use Business Process Flows to guide users in the process


Key users know how the system works and why certain modifications have been done in this or that way. End users just want the system to work and the success of the implementation stands or fall with their adoption of the system you have been building so carefully. This means:

  • Always keep the end user in mind and don’t trust the key users.
  • Don’t focus solely on the web client, think also on the Outlook Plugin and the Mobile platform (tablet / phone) and make sure their compatible.
  • Take a step back, let an end user run through the system and give you feedback. Usually a lot of pain points can be solved quite fast and quite easy, resulting in a huge save in user frustration later on. E.g. fields names, view names, field description, label translations, custom entity icons.


Make unused fields OOB fields unsearchable. The guys at Powerobjects have created a nice post on how you could make OOB fields unsearchable in the “Advanced Find”.

The Advanced Find tool is an excellent resource for running targeted searches within Dynamics CRM and offers more in-depth search capabilities than using the Quick Find option. With an Advanced Find query, you can search a variety of record types for a specific field value. However, there are a LOT of fields that come “out-of-the-box” with Dynamics CRM. This means creating a search can take longer because there are so many fields from which to choose. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to make searching easier by removing unnecessary fields from the list of options.

Did you know there are 139 fields available on the Account form by default? Most organizations use less than half of those. For our example, we will use the Address 2 fields. Even though Address 2 may not be used, there are actually twenty-four fields related to Address 2. Most of those twenty-four fields are marked as “searchable”, which means they show up as something you can search on in Advanced Find.

If your organization doesn’t utilize the multiple Address 2 fields, or any other field for that matter, then those additional fields simply clutter up the Advanced Find field selector. It also could result in reporting errors if a user meant to search on Address 1 and picked Address 2 by mistake. Deleting the unused fields in CRM is not an option if they are out-of-the-box.

Luckily you can eliminate these issues by making any OOB field unsearchable and making those fields unsearchable is super simple to change. Here’s how to do it.

1. First, navigate to the field you want to hide.

2. Double-click on it.

3. Next, set the Searchable property to No.

4. Click the Save & Close button

5. Repeat the steps above for the other fields you what to hide.

Time-saving tip! Select a number of fields you want to mark “unsearchable” by holding the <CTRL> or <SHIFT>, and click EDITon the toolbar.

  • CRM will provide you a window to set Searchable to “No” for all selected records.6. Once finished, click Save and Publish

Now you see it, now you don’t!

Picture: agencypost.com


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