Enterprise UX Design: Seven Tips for Maximizing Business Impact
Enterprise UX design lives is a specialization of user experience design. However, unlike some of its counterparts, Enterprise UX design serves the needs of the internal users rather than external consumers.
In this piece, we will discuss what enterprise UX design is and what distinguishes it from other practices. We’ll also consider seven important perspectives on designing for the enterprise.
What is Enterprise UX Design?
Enterprise UX (User Experience) design is the practice of designing interfaces that will be utilized exclusively for internal, enterprise-level applications. The overall goal is to create an experience that is efficient, user friendly, and facilitates employee workflows. Enterprise UX designers require a deep understanding of the inner mechanisms of an enterprise and extensive preparatory work including establishing the needs, pain points, and goals of the current software solution.
The practice of enterprise UX design requires rich collaboration between project stakeholders and designers, as well as subject matter experts who understand the workflows of their teams. Many of the traditional user experience tools, such as user personas, journeys, and usability testing are also brought into the mix.
Enterprise UX Design vs. Consumer UX Design
For those not familiar with the practice, the difference between enterprise UX design and traditional UX design can be confusing.
The main difference between enterprise UX design and consumer UX design is related to the expertise of a software’s end users. Consumer UX design requires designers to create structures and processes focused on naivety, as consumers in retail spaces very often are not subject matter experts. Because of their lack of experience, strong consumer design is intuitive and immediate, and does not provide specific technical abilities that may overwhelm a novice user.
Enterprise UX design follows the same approach but with opposite end users. Because its end users are experts in the specialty of their organization, enterprise systems must straddle the balance of providing in-depth and specific technical processes to accomplish operational actions, without becoming challenging to navigate.
While both disciplines share common principles, enterprise UX design involves designing for workflows and business processes that are unique to the organization. Many of these workflows or processes involve a diverse set of users who have different permissions, goals, and directives. All of which must be considered during the pre-planning period.
Additionally, these internal design systems should be easily adaptable and adjustable, as internal hierarchy and workflows often shift to adapt to the market. An enterprise software solution must roll with the punches.
Security is also a major focus in enterprise UX design, as internal systems are likely to contain the sensitive information of both clients and employees of an organization. However, securing an enterprise design shouldn’t impact its usability.
Why is Enterprise UX Design Important?
Well-considered enterprise UX design can move the needle on productivity within an organization’s workforce. How many times have you heard of companies in the 21st century that are still using systems built decades ago? With the speed at which technology is advancing, these organizations are not only missing out on new features to speed up processes, but are also increasing employee attrition.
Not surprisingly, user productivity increases when a UX design gets the attention it deserves through the redevelopment of an enterprise software. Smart design facilitates essential tasks, managing operations becomes easier, and satisfaction increases through the de-burdened workflows. In fact, employee satisfaction is often a key indicator of the ROI of UX, which you can learn about by clicking the link.
Enterprise UX design also paves the road for more informed decision making for an organization. Through UX data visualization and the automation of traditionally manual processes, the margin of error is greatly reduced and organization executives can more easily overview and utilize data collected over a set period of time.
All of this continues to build on the organization’s competitiveness within their industry, keeping revenue streams healthy and minimizing the risk of obsolescence .
Seven Tips for Enterprise UX Design
Now that we understand what makes enterprise UX design unique as well as the benefits it provides, let’s look at seven tips for improving your enterprise UX design practices.
1. Conduct user research
Even though the end users are not purchasing a service or product, end-user research is still essential. To create an enterprise software application that meets your needs and goals, designers must conduct their research similarly to how they would if the application was built for consumers.
Tools such as user personas, interviews, and usability testing are great ways to gather more information about the internal users of an organization’s application and how to create a solution that achieves the desired effects of a redesign.
2. Simplify the user interface
With lengthy and complex processes taking place within an organization, enterprise software applications can be overwhelming or confusing for large swaths of end users. This confusion can lead to down time or frustration when using a solution, and may promote users to circumvent the system, causing data islands and reducing overall ROI.
To address this, simplicity should be at the forefront of design, meaning reducing clutter and minimizing overly complicated information architecture. Clear and concise labeling systems and reducing the number of options are great ways to prevent overwhelm. Additionally, utilizing a design system approach allows future improvements to be seamlessly updated into the simplified system.
3. Break down the user workflow
Processes are salient in enterprise UX design, as team members using an enterprise solution often follow a non-linear path to move forward in their next work item. This should be reflected in the user interface. Designers should have a deep understanding of the workflows a system needs to competently support through its interface.
Accessibility continues to become a larger consideration of designers across the world and generally refers to the ability of an application to be used by individuals with visual, auditory, and motor disabilities. Accessibility is not only a consideration for empathetic organizations, but also one of compliance, as utilizing systems that are not compatible with employees’ disability needs may be in violation of reasonable accommodation requirements.
Ensuring accessibility to all improves workplace culture and morale, not to mention is an ethical approach to design practices.
5. Embrace Agile
Using Agile methodology will streamline the design workflow by directly involving shareholders in the overall process long before reaching an MVP. Waterfall methodology has been the bread and butter of UX since the 1970s, but the methodology has some major downsides, including leaving design adjustments towards the end of the development process.
These last minute changes frequently result in delays and cause costs to skyrocket, leading to the release of many over budget MVPs riddled with design flaws.
Agile methodology takes the high-level overview approach of waterfall and tightens the scope to small and specific sections of development that are built during sprints (periods of two to four weeks).
Once a sprint is completed, there is then an opportunity for shareholders to provide feedback before moving forward so that adjustments can be made throughout the process. This methodology leads to more considered design choices and stronger MVPs at the end of development.
6. Use a Design system
Enterprise design systems give consistency to what could potentially become a hodgepodge of mismatched elements across an application. With projects at this grand scale, utilizing a design system is one of the only approaches to efficient design, as a system provides a shared language between a team of designers and shareholders.
Design systems can also be built to coincide with previous branding or help to establish branding where none currently exists, though this is less of a consideration if an application is exclusively internal. Not only do design systems help with brand consistency, they also make updates much easier to implement, and could even potentially be handled internally depending on the complexity of the system, bolstering ROI and future-proofing software for years to come.
7. Consistently Test and Iterate
Testing is still a key principle in enterprise software design, because established, enterprise applications are used by a base of individuals with diverse objectives spanning across the entire company, which makes designing a widely functional interface challenging.
Designers should consistently test and iterate enterprise designs until they find a solution that accommodates the largest section of users possible. This process may take place over a longer timeframe, as conducting usability testing and gathering feedback is required before designers can begin making incremental improvements.
Enterprise UX Design: How We Can Help
Enterprise UX design follows many of the same principles as traditional UX design, providing a lot of crossover opportunities for designers who are unfamiliar with working on enterprise software. With that said, it’s important that designers know exactly where the differences lie, and how to navigate them with expertise to ensure a completed product that supports the needs of the organization.
DOOR3 provides a wealth of expertise in UX design for enterprise level software. Our team has worked on enterprise level projects for members of the S&P 500, helping improve their overall operations with user friendly design elements and systems. We have significant experience in industries like insurance, financial services, legal, and more.
Our enterprise UX services include UX audits, legacy system redesigns, bespoke software development & design, and design systems for enterprise level organizations. If you’re looking for a team to help you take your user experience to a whole other level, Reach out to DOOR3 here.
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