User experience (UX) design is a widely accepted role in the consumer software development lifecycle, and, in many cases, has proven to be the key differentiator in winning business. Yet enterprise UX designers still struggle to justify the significance of UX design in the overall development process.
Today, misconceptions around UX design lie in the differences between consumer software and enterprise software. For many reasons, UX design is often left behind when it comes to enterprise software:
- Large corporations prioritize getting all the required information into the software (which in itself poses a challenge), and getting it up and running without harming profit margins. With these priorities, user experience loses.
- One of the significant metrics to measure consumer UX success is the conversion rate, but in the enterprise world it’s different—enterprise users and consumers are rarely the same people. While consumers can choose what software they want to use, enterprise software users typically end up using whatever the employer chooses, and UX is less of a concern.
- Agile might be gaining steam, but many enterprise software development processes haven’t fully embraced it. Internet-based companies can release updates on a weekly or even daily basis. This short cycle obscures the traditional definition of a “release,” which is typically once or twice a year. Popular user-centered-design methodology like “guerilla testing” or “Lean UX and MVP” can’t be applied to enterprise software without customization.
- There’s less competition among enterprise vendors, but also a higher barrier to entry. This lack of competition often translates to very little UX investment due to a lack of perceived value.
- There’s a misconception that enterprise users can be “trained” and are willing to stay in their comfort zone once they’re proficient enough with the software. Often, established enterprise-software vendors risk cannibalizing the success of their legacy products—which might still be profitable—when salespeople show consumers newer products with better UX.
Yes, enterprise UX design presents more challenges than consumer UX design—but the benefits of good UX surpass the difference between these two types of users.
Like consumer UX designers, enterprise UX designers follow the same design philosophy of emphasizing the user’s wants and needs and then prioritizing that on top of everything else. For companies that focus on their technological advantage, it’s easy to forget about the human user’s needs and intent.
More and more companies are realizing the value of UX in the design of the software they use for daily business functions, and are making an effort to factor employee opinions into the decision-making process. It may take some time for the real value of UX to sink in, but companies in every industry are becoming aware that employees expect the UX standards of products to match the high UX standards found in consumer products. The fast and snappy UX of consumer devices like iPhone or Android makes most enterprise UX look outdated and sluggish, and outdated, sluggish UX ultimately lowers an employee’s productivity. A good enterprise UX allows employees to do more with less frustration and headaches.
To see how a lousy enterprise UX can ruin a business opportunity, look no further than Avon. In 2011, Avon pulled the plug on a $125 million project after salespeople grew frustrated and walked away from their jobs. The technology worked, but the experience of using it was so frustrating and challenging that employees would instead leave than work with it.
An enterprise UX may not have the same kind of direct sales impact as a consumer UX, but embracing good enterprise UX strategy yields benefits that can impact sales in the long-run. Good UX design results in increased customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, employee productivity, and it cuts development and support costs.
In the next blog, we’ll discuss Fujitsu UX strategies for network software solutions in more detail, including how we reach out to our enterprise users for research, how we work with other Fujitsu teams to create corporate design system to keep consistent branding and design patterns, and how we can scale to provide UX as a service to multifaceted projects.