Enterprise Design
Experts Voice
24 May 2023
Enterprise Design
Experts Voice
24 May 2023

Enterprise Design

Enterprise Design

One of the most time-consuming and laborious projects that can come to a digital development company is an enterprise product to build from scratch or redesign. Each of these projects presents serious challenges ranging from complex workflows to diverse user roles. So, creating effective solutions that will satisfy users' and business needs can be a rather tough task. And that is the work of an enterprise designer.

In this article, we will explore the importance of UX design in enterprise projects and how it can help to achieve business goals, including employee productivity improvement, efficiency increase, and general experience enhancement. 

What is Enterprise Design? 

Before diving deeper into the subject, let’s define what we call enterprise design and why it differs from the consumer field of UX. Enterprise design is a field of UX design focused on building software for large organizations and companies. These solutions can vary from internal systems used by the company's employees to products distributed commercially.

The key difference between enterprise design and other forms of UX design is that enterprise design takes into consideration the whole organization with all its professional end business challenges. This involves understanding large and complicated workflows and systems, adjusting these systems for diverse user roles, and establishing consistent communication between different departments of one enterprise ecosystem.

Benefits of Enterprise Design 

The main goal of enterprise design is to improve the usability and efficiency of an enterprise product. Just as important, the realization requires covering both users’ and business needs. Enterprise design helps to cope with this task and achieve the primary goal in a complex way.

One of the primary benefits of enterprise design is maximizing ROI. Usually, when clients come to a development company with their project, they have requirements and a general idea of how the final product should work. However, as practice shows, nearly half of all original requirements will bring minimal value for the product in the initial stages. Here takes place rule 80/20 or the Pareto principle: approximately 20% of all features will bring 80% of product value and success. In order not to waste any efforts and recourses on the less-profitable features, enterprise designers collect the owner’s requirements and users' suggestions, analyze them surreally, and then prioritize. In such a way, the development resources are allocated to the most valuable and profitable 20% of features, maximizing ROI.

Another key benefit is improving efficiency. An enterprise product essentially is a software tool that is created for different user roles to help accomplish their tasks and goals. Enterprise designers discover the main professional needs and pain points of each role and, in the final, tailor each part of the enterprise system to the specific needs of the corresponding role. When the instrument is created considering the requirements of all users who interact with it, then it results in efficiency and productivity increase, which, in its turn, leads to substantial time and cost savings in the long run.

Enterprise products often are complicated systems that can be used by different departments and include separate modules or even applications. All products should follow the same design language to decrease users’ efforts in learning alternative patterns, improve usability in general and reduce confusion. When users are familiar with a design language and can anticipate how different applications and tools work, they can complete tasks faster and more accurately. Visual consistency is also a main principle in brand recognition and loyalty. When users observe the same stylistic language and usability patterns across all touchpoints, they are more likely to feel trust. This will result in better customer engagement over time. 

As with any professional working tool, enterprise software requires instructions on how to use it.  Time and effort-consuming training are the potential sources of negative user experience and low productivity levels. When enterprise designers create intuitive software tools, organizations can reduce the time and resources required to train new employees and, in this way, reduce the learning curve. The most important thing here is to design solutions that are based on the users’ previous professional experience with similar tools and that are easy to learn and use.

Best Practices in Enterprise Design 

We have hands-on expertise in various enterprise domains, including logistics, medicine, project and resource management. In each case, we have provided an individual approach, but that is based on the best enterprise design practices: 

User-Centered Design

Despite the common belief that in enterprise design, the traditional user-centric approach takes a back seat, we can tell for sure that enterprise designers cannot ignore the main principles of UX design because complex systems require being user-friendly and intuitive even more than design for consumers.  Enterprise designers should always prioritize the needs and goals of the end users because this is the only way to create an intuitive and effective interface.

Conducting user research is essential for gaining insight into the requirements and objectives of users. In our practice, the most preferable way to collect necessary data is by conducting user interviews. Communication with real users, studying their workflow, and gathering feedback provide the development team with the data that allows further feature prioritization and functional specification.  In case of tight time or human resource limits, we also can suggest conducting user surveys.  While surveys are typically used as part of comprehensive user research alongside interviews to gather more data that is later refined through live interviews, they can also serve as the primary means of gathering information about users in certain situations.

After conducting usability research, all gathered information is analyzed, structured, and grouped. The development team gets it in the form of user persona portraits, user experience maps, and user research reports. It helps to align all the team over the same issues that should be in focus during the development process.

Usability Testing

Designing a software tool is not just building screens with some required data and features. It is a complex process of understanding users, defining problems, ideating solutions, and testing designs on real users to ensure that developed solutions meet users’ needs. Each project should start with users and end with users. First, we get acquainted with users, learn their needs and problems via research, and then test ideas, prototypes, or completed projects on those users. By conducting usability testing, we can find areas of confusion, make adjustments and improve user experience, and in such a way, provide a better product.

What is more important, conducting usability testing early in the design process can help identify issues before the product is released, saving time and money on costly redesigns later on.

Mapping

It often happens that numerous workflows with various paths and interaction points bring much confusion in the development process. This mass has rather painful consequences. Some intermediate features can be forgotten, so in some use cases, users can face errors and lose the ability to fulfill their tasks. To avoid such a scenario, designers first build maps that can guide the rest of the development team across all systems. User flow is a perfect variant of how designers can anticipate all possible variants of interaction with a product and visualize it in the form of a diagram that consists of different screens, interactions, and decisions that users should make. It is not only a guarantee that all UI states will be worked over. It is also a way to discover touchpoints where users may become confused or frustrated. 

Design for Scalability

Usually, enterprise products have a rather long lifecycle. During this lifecycle organization will grow, the number of user roles can change, and the workflow can become more complicated. Consequently, software solutions should scale in accordance with the business. So, scalability is a key consideration when planning and executing these types of projects. This requires careful planning and building an information architecture that will allow adding new features and functionality without disrupting the existing system. For this, the best way to facilitate all enhancements is to build modular and flexible design systems and use universal usability patterns that can be adapted to new use cases and business requirements.

Often happens, that project starts as a desktop application, but in a year or two, the concept changes, and a requirement comes to create a mobile application for this product. If scalability wasn't taken into consideration in the initial stages, then developing a mobile application will require much more time and effort.

Following these practices helps us to achieve all those benefits for which enterprise design is appreciated. We try to break the stereotype that enterprise products should always have monstrous and complicated interfaces where users can get lost without precise training. These software tools can be user-friendly, easy to navigate, and use. As mediators between the world of users, business, and development teams, enterprise designers do not set a goal to create a Swiss knife but put compromise between the expectations of all sides as a top priority. The modern, well-designed corporate product should serve as an instrument to solve tasks without extra effort and time spent.

However, there we do not insist that it is mandatory to start projects always with user Interviews and surveys, validate each idea on end-users, work out meticulous user flows and app maps, or build comprehensive cross-platform design systems. Each project requires a case-by-case approach to achieve business goals and solve professional tasks. However, to get maximum results with minimum expense, we highly recommend not ignoring enterprise design with all its principles and approaches. Nobody but users know better what will influence their productivity and efficiency improvement. Investment in enterprise design is an investment in product success.    

Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your business grow.

Our team of experts is available to assess your current operations and determine where we can provide assistance.

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