It’s taken a while for enterprises to make the shift from being business-centric to user-centric.
Thankfully, they’ve also come round to the idea that being user-centric *is* being business-centric.
Its impact can be seen on the software which fuel these big businesses, which are now increasingly user-friendly, adaptive, and delightful.
For all these years, there has been a lot of talk on what’s wrong with enterprise UX. But we’re in 2019, and SaaS products have been getting better and better by the day. Which is why we’ve come up with our view on what can be truly defined as great enterprise UX.
1. It’s User-friendly
“I never design a building before I’ve seen the site and met the people who will be using it.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
Software project meetings at large corporations are usually attended by all except the eventual users of that very software. “Some stakeholders may have no idea of what you’re here for. They may think they already know what their users want. They just want the thing they’ve made look better”, says John Mooney, Head of UX at Xwerx, Ireland.
As unfortunate as that is, it hands designers the responsibility of incorporating user-centric values in the design process. Iteratively using research techniques like user interviews, focus groups, and field research accurately reveals user needs to be fulfilled and pain points to be resolved.
SAP’s CEO, Bill McDermott speaks of how their goal as a leading enterprise product design company is to be perpetually focused on the user, “We are using Design Thinking to gain empathy for our customers and help them realize their future through technology so we can help the world run better and improve people’s lives.”
2. It’s Simple
“Rule of thumb: if you think something is clever and sophisticated, beware – it is probably self-indulgence.” – Donald A. Norman
Jakob Nielsen gave us 3 golden rules of UX design – Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. In the enterprise context too, simplicity is the highest benchmark there is to achieve. With its layered and expansive functionality, enterprise tech has always been burdened with complex, cross-functional and inter-departmental workflows. Today, thanks to the increased awareness regarding the tangible benefits of good design, corporations have come to terms with the truth that using a complicated, slow-functioning legacy software is no longer an obligation. It’s also a wake-up call of sorts to designers who pride themselves on creating things that could be too suave for their average users – as was the case of Avon’s controversial order management system.
3. It’s captivating
“Don’t think that even an engineer, when he buys a motor, takes it to bits to scrutinize it. Even he as a specialist buys from the external appearance. A motor ought to look like a birthday present.” – Peter Behrens
Human beings are driven by emotions, and that makes enterprise users no different. MailChimp’s UX lead Aarron Walter has an interesting take on emotional design, saying, “Sometimes we get so excited about the technology that we lose sight of what it is empowering us to do, which is – talk to a lot of people and build real relationships with people,”. His team worked relentlessly on giving an interesting spin and spunky personality to what is quite simply just an email marketing service.
The commercial value of SaaS products that invoke passion and enthusiasm in its users is for all to see. Popular enterprise products like Slack, Trello, and Basecamp have managed to establish that emotional connection with their “beautiful” designs, warranting continued use with high levels of appreciation and fanfare. Replicating their quirky functionality could be difficult for apps with heavier and more “serious” workflows like EHRs or ERPs, but there is always scope for simple and effective functionality for a powerful enterprise system.
With the increasing consumerization of enterprise software, it’s crucial as designers to consider how your users want to feel while using your product, and not just about the features they want. Enterprise users heavily depend on their integrated systems and would love to experience the confidence that those systems will work as they anticipate them to. The beauty of such an intuitive system is what lends the users a sense of achievement while performing their duties, and thereby, develop a strong affinity to their job and organization.
Because at the end of the day, a great enterprise system is one that helps its users do their job well.
Does the enterprise system you’re using or helping design deserve to be called “great”? The answer to that lies in discovering what “great” truly means to your users or to you as a user.