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UX for enterprise applications has a bad reputation. But with these 4 best practices, you can kiss goodbye to unusable, ugly and counter intuitive user experiences

UX for enterprise applications has a bad reputation. But with these 4 best practices, you can kiss goodbye to unusable, ugly and counter intuitive user experiences

The words ‘enterprise’ and ‘software’ are innocuous when separated, yet when placed near one another the very idea is enough to send shivers down your spine. UX for enterprise applications has a bad rep and it isn’t entirely unjustified. In fact, some enterprise software has double the usability issues than consumer software.

If you think of enterprise software images of unresponsive, slow and clunky UX combined with ugly and dull user interfaces might appear in your mind. You’re not alone. We feel your pain and we hate it too.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. We want to live in a world where good UX is applied to all software, especially enterprise software. In our mission for better enterprise UX, Justinmind has rustled up 4 best practices to achieve great user experience in enterprise software.


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Create an omni-channel enterprise experience

Work can be defined differently for different people. Some people have to sit at a desk and use an outdated version of Windows whereas others have the privilege of being a digital nomad, working wherever there’s an internet connection.

A quick look at Nomad List tells me there’s already over 60,000 active nomads navigating the world, the most popular city being Bangkok. In addition, 43% of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely.

Since the workforce is not homogeneous, it makes better business sense to create an experience that is tailored to the different ways that employees work.That means creating enterprise software that is omni-channel.

Omni-channel UX means if John The Accountant is playing with a dashboard at work and wants to pick up where he left off at home on his iPad after supper, all the data and information should be available on all channels, easily accessible and without any unexpected change to the experience.

The 5 main elements of a successful omni-channel experience are:

Consistency: Making sure screens are familiar, buttons are where they’re expected to be, etc.

Availability: Employees should be able to choose when, where and how they interact with enterprise software.

Channel-Neutrality: The experience shouldn’t be better on desktop over tablet or mobile phone.

Context-Optimization: This means leveraging and enhancing employee engagement through the technical capabilities of each channel (i.e printing, cameras, GPS etc)

Seamlessness: Enterprise software should be holistic and give a real time view of the employee and back-end integration between channels.

Multi-device prototyping is here in Justinmind’s latest release

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Keep it simple

All user experience design should be kept as simple as possible; nowhere is this as important as in enterprise UX. Keep your enterprise software simple.

Ideally, you want to create a workforce that is happy to use your enterprise software. But too often there are complaints about complex enterprise software: horrible on boarding processes, counter intuitive UI, clunky responsiveness… you know how it goes. People just don’t like using enterprise UX.

That’s why keeping it simple is important. Enterprise software should be the answer to our problems, not the cause, right? That’s what enterprise software ought to do; simplify a complex process for the workforce. Yet, it’s usually the other way around.

Getting both UX designers and product teams together, who both understand the processes involved with the enterprise software can be a step in the right direction. This way, everyone is involved in the conversation and can make their voice heard.

Enterprise software should focus on:

  • Screen content and functionality
  • How the information is displayed, accessed and stored

You want to keep the enterprise software simple and easy to understand. While a consumer app might cause outrage amount a handful of customers if there’s a slight usability issue, when it comes to enterprise software a poor experience could hinder an employee from doing their job properly. And this can have financial implications.

Build meaningful relationships with stakeholders

When you build enterprise software, you’re going to be dealing with stakeholders so it’s time to engage those soft skills. Your stakeholders probably can’t differentiate a modal box from a push notification. We’re not being mean—they’re probably busy implementing strategy and design isn’t their domain. That’s you. But don’t let that prevent you from building a meaningful relationship with your stakeholders.

It’s vital to remember that you’re designing for the end user, not the client. Your stakeholders are going to come with their own set of ideas and assumptions about what they think they want and need.

sharing-responsibilities-for-better-enterprise-ux

You’re going to be breaking some bad news, especially when it comes to saying no to that really awesome feature they want but that you already know nobody is going to use. So, turning those guys into allies will smooth out the UX design journey.

A few tips that have helped us improve the relationship with stakeholders:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Clarify goals face-to-face
  • Understand the scope of the project (is it well-defined?)
  • Don’t keep any secrets (share your knowledge, don’t hoard it).
  • Ask when you need help

When you don’t know something, it’s better to ask and seek help, especially when it comes to pleasing a corporate client. If something goes wrong, it could cost a lot of money and the experience will paint you and your team in a poor light.

Boost your design process and improve enterprise UX with these product development tips

Understand the company culture

It’s one thing to design something for a client, but a whole new ballgame when it comes to creating enterprise software. As pointed out by Jordan Koschei, much of enterprise software design involves, in some way or another, designing:

  • HR portals
  • Inventory tracking apps
  • Content management systems
  • Intranet sites
  • Proprietary enterprise software

Since these products will be used on a daily basis by the employees of a company, it makes sense to have insight into company culture. What are the company’s values? What are its goals? Knowing this sort of information can be beneficial to your design process.

Corporate clients aren’t too dissimilar from politicians in that they are wedded to short-term thinking. Often you’ll be asked to build something quickly that barely works because these sort of clients aren’t interested in the latest UX trends or best practices.

Sure, you won’t revolutionize a company with pockets of design thinking but planting the seeds in meetings can help when you have to present and explain a design or idea to under pressure stakeholders. Give the stakeholders what they want but don’t be afraid of going a little left field every now and again. They might end up loving it.

Conclusion

Designing enterprise software should be a joy; after all, designers have the opportunity to solve big problems for organizations that have thousands of employees. Next time you’re tasked with giving enterprise software a face lift, take note of these 4 best practices. Who knows, you just might make something people feel happy using.

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Cassandra is Marketing Lead at Justinmind

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  • valuable post you wrote, lots of learning point you mentioned that is helpful to understand more. thanks for sharing the post.

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