Why Enterprise Design is the Future
One of the biggest draws of being a UX designer is that every project creates opportunities to apply design thinking to different domains and understand users from different backgrounds. Each project presents new and interesting challenges.
Once a project is started, there’s absolutely no way of knowing which direction its going to progress. The data that is uncovered throughout the course of the project (whose timeline can range from weeks to months) heavily influences the artifacts that designers use to gain a clearer understanding of their target user’s needs. This often means that designers are left in the dark throughout most of the project till they complete a major portion of their user research. The project’s objectives often can end up pivoting in different directions based on what designers uncover during the research process.
Enterprise software projects on the other hand present a different set of challenges that UX Designers need to start looking into seriously. Despite the fact that enterprise design is currently more of an underground area, it is definitely on the rise and will create multiple opportunities for designers in the very near future.
There are several major reasons why enterprise projects can be a designer’s dream. I’ve outlined several of them below
Diverse number of use-cases
Most enterprise applications have a large number of functions. The one-click rule does not apply to these platforms because end-users for the most part have several tasks to complete while using the platform. For example, let’s talk about a tool like Google Analytics. The software’s primary features include (but limited to…)
- Generating multiple dashboards based on primary and secondary metrics.
- Generating behavior flow charts based on a diverse number of metrics.
- Keeping track of ad campaign performance
- Keeping track of search performance
- Set conversion goals
The number of use-cases that can be generated from the above list is huge. This creates multiple opportunities for UX designers including a diverse set of user-flows, customer journey maps and experience maps.
Here are some fundamental examples of what can be categorized as enterprise systems that generate a large number of use-cases.
- Collaboration tools for small to mid-sized teams
- Analytics tools targeted to both marketers and data-scientists
- Patient records and directories for hospitals
- Tools to create office related assets like documents and spreadsheets
- Presentation software
Personas with clear objectives
Unlike classification of users for more consumer-driven platforms, enterprise UX can essentially classify most users into one category — employees. Whether we’re talking senior managers, high-ranking executives, mid-level employees or even interns, every user is part of the organization’s workforce. This means they all have the same goal— push the business forward.
Each persona will have their own set of objectives that directly or indirectly connect to the company’s goal. Even those these can vary across each persona, the objectives for the most part will be clear. For example, a software project manager’s primary objectives will include delivering the final product within the deadline, making sure that all engineers keep track of their commits in the repository, keeping other departments like marketing informed of their progress, and hiring new team members.
Enterprise-based personas exhibit behaviors that are akin to the environment that they’re part of. In an office setting, most behaviors are closer to being automated because it’s extremely process driven. UX designers would never have to second guess their personas.
Different platforms presenting different UI challenges
Enterprise platforms can be used on websites, smartphones and tablets. If a member of the workforce travels often on business hours, they still to communicate with their team members. This means that they need to access their tools on more portable devices like smartphones and tablets.
The user experience of mobile devices is not the same as desktop workstations which essentially means that they cannot complete the same tasks with the same efficiency on both platforms.
When designing for multiple platforms, UX designers need to factor in different scenarios where the users need to engage with different versions of the same platform. These can include using the app during a subway commute, while waiting in line at a coffee shop, waiting for a bus, walking on the streets or sitting on a plane.
The same UI cannot be used for all platform because of the limited real estate. The different scenarios present different UI options.
Enterprise design is on the rise. Whether a company uses third party software or develop them in-house, the challenges and opportunities of enterprise design cannot be debated. The points outlined above offer only a sliver of the potential of venturing into enterprise design projects.