Enterprise UX: From Definition to a Comprehensive Workflow
Modern designers need to understand what enterprise UX is and how to make successful designs for organizations. Learn about this unique dimension of design.
Written by RamotionFeb 9, 202216 min read
Last updated: Aug 22, 2023
The design of a product or service plays a vital role in its success. From the moment the users interact with a product, it starts impacting their feelings. If a product or service is making the lives of its users easy and helping them accomplish their tasks, it will indeed be received well and recommended to others. If, on the other hand, the product is too difficult to use or does not help the users in achieving their goals, they will soon find an alternative. With a number of applications, products, and services designed for similar purposes, it does not take long for users to switch. The switch is more pronounced, and it hurts your business a lot more when a whole organization stops using your products or services. This is where the value of enterprise UX design comes into play.
Big organizations use a number of different software, products, and services from third parties. These corporations not only bring more money to an enterprise UX design company but also increase its credibility. For example, if a Fortune 500 company is using a particular marketing tool, it will add value to the developers’ enterprise UX portfolio, and others will quickly follow. This results in more business and a broader customer base. One of the important factors in this regard is the enterprise application design. When designing a product or service for enterprises, UI/UX designers need to be aware of a lot of the needs of big companies and also make sure that it is worth the money. Understanding enterprise user experience design is essential for modern UX designers and design firms.
In this article, we cover the basics of enterprise UX design, its value, challenges, and the aspects that enterprise UX designers need to focus on while working with big organizations.
- Defining enterprise UX design
- Customer UX vs enterprise UX
- Key challenges for enterprise UX design
- A comprehensive enterprise UX workflow
Read along as we unpack this unique and essential concept for UI/UX designers.
Defining Enterprise UX Design
It all starts with asking the question: What is enterprise design? The short answer to this question is: it’s complicated. Enterprise UX is a fairly new term in the field of design, and there is not a single agreed definition yet. Although there are some enterprise UX books battling with different definitions, it is hard to find a consensus among them. Some broad definitions consider only the internal software, such as HR, internal communication, etc., as a part of enterprise product design. Others, however, include all the products and services used by enterprises, whether it is for marketing, website design, or customer relationship management, in the definition of enterprise UX design.
What is enterprise UX?
Enterprise UX is a broad term referring to the use of software, tools, products, and services used in a work environment. It includes HR software, marketing platforms, customer relationship management software, and a lot more.
While working on projects for big organizations, such as enterprise software design, things can get a little complicated. For instance, organizations have different needs that need to be addressed. As a UI/UX designer, you have to make sure that your customers, in this case, the enterprise, get what they need, that too with ease. The efficient working of an organization relies to a great extent on the tools and software it uses, and that’s where UX for enterprise applications becomes extremely important.
Why does enterprise UX design matter?
There are a number of reasons why enterprise UX research is becoming popular these days. Leading organizations of the world see the value in this domain and, thus, look for the best tools they can work with. These tools and software not only help in making the workforce more efficient but also leave a good impact on their end users’ experience. Some of the areas where enterprise UX matters the most are as follows.
One of the most important aspects of enterprise UX design is employee satisfaction. When organizations buy a tool, product, or service for their workforce, they want to know its impact on the way they handle the operations at work. This means that the product or service should not only help in accomplishing a task but also make the employees feel good. If the design is too difficult to interact with, the employees will not engage with it more frequently, no matter how valuable it is. This will then affect the sales and return on investment (ROI).
UI/UX designers, when working with enterprises, need to make sure that the value of the experience and the overall emotions of the employees is taken into account. From a designer’s perspective, it is always important for users to be satisfied with the experience.
A number of organizations buy plans for marketing tools, SEO software packages, customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, and other similar services. These products and services also fall under the definition of enterprise UX because the primary target audience here is an enterprise. Organizations use these tools in a number of ways, but the major goal is to get more business, increase sales, and gain a competitive advantage.
A good UX enterprise design ensures that it is not only easy to use but also adds value to the business of an organization. When the relationship with customers is easily managed and the data is effectively analyzed, the organizations can turn this to their advantage and improve their business model. Enterprise UX design has a big role to play in this practice.
From the customer’s perspective, enterprise UX design is essential to improve their experience and to add to their satisfaction. These tools ensure that the customers get the best experience in the simplest way possible. The design of the tool here, again, is critical.
There are several examples, including but not limited to conversion funnel and purchase journey, where the experience of end-users is highly dependent on the design of enterprise software or service.
Customer support is another key area that organizations need to keep in mind. This is where enterprise UX design can come in handy. One of the best examples here is the live chat and support tools employed for various organizations for their websites and/or mobile apps. A number of organizations are moving to virtual assistants where they can handle multiple conversations at a single time. This not only saves the customers from long wait times but also provides accurate information.
Customer satisfaction and support, in turn, are of great value to an organization’s business. If the end-users are satisfied with the services, it will be easy to retain the customers and also attract more customers in the future.
Customer UX vs Enterprise UX
If you’re a UI/UX designer, it is also important for you to understand the difference between consumer UX or customer UX and enterprise UX. It can sometimes get challenging, particularly when you’re working on a number of different projects, to navigate between customer UX and enterprise UX. Although the basics of design principles stay the same and the enterprise UX strategy is quite similar to that of consumer UX, there are some significant differences.
How is Customer UX Different From Enterprise UX?
There are three important aspects in which customer or consumer UX is different from enterprise UX:
- The nature of the target audience
- The purpose and end-use of the design
- The scale of the design and stakes
The three major areas where these differences are most visible and impactful include the target audience, purpose of design, and scale of design. For a designer, it is important to consider these differences before and during the design process.
One of the first steps in any design problem is to understand the target audience. That step remains the same in the case of enterprise UX design, but its nature gets a little complicated. The target audience, in this case, is not the customer buying the product or service. Instead, the target audience is the workforce of an organization. They do not buy the service themselves but are only using it.
Another important difference here is that the users of enterprise software use it in a particular setting (i.e., workplace and during office hours). They only need the tool to help them accomplish their work-related tasks. The design, therefore, must be extremely simplistic and focused.
Purpose of the design
The purpose of the design is another area where enterprise UX follows a different trajectory than that of consumer UX. In the case of consumer UX, the purpose is to keep the customers engaged and also make them curious. In other words, the goal is to make the design fun and easy. The purpose of enterprise UX design, on the other hand, is to make administrative tasks (such as HR management) easy and to aid the audience in completing their day-to-day tasks.
The purpose of enterprise UX design is not to attract the workforce but to make their lives easier. This removes one level of complication from the design process. However, the designers have to make a case for the value of the product or service in front of the executives of an enterprise. This means they may have to do some non-design work to make their product or service stand out.
Scale and stakes
Another important aspect to consider in enterprise UX design, which makes it different from customer UX, is the scale of the design and the worth of what is at stake. Products and services for enterprises are designed to be used by a specific audience and for a certain set of tasks. This means that the design is more localized but needs more specialization.
On the other hand, the stakes in the case of enterprise design are quite high. If a customer does not like a design and switches to an alternative, that is an individual event. However, in the case of an enterprise tool, if an entire enterprise switches to an alternative, a UI/UX design company loses a big chunk of its business. These high stakes and a different scale of design mean that the approach to the design process needs to be altered.
Key Challenges for Enterprise UX Design
Just like any other design problem, enterprise UX can prove to be quite challenging. If you look at any enterprise UX case study, you will find that there are a lot of similarities when it comes to the challenges in the design process. It is, therefore, important to get a good understanding of the factors that can make enterprise UX design difficult to handle.
How can enterprise UX be challenging?
Some of the major challenges in UX design for enterprise applications include:
- It requires expertise and specialization
- The context becomes essential
- The users are not typical customers
- The market is highly competitive
These challenges, however, should not be considered hurdles to the design process. UI/UX designers, owing to the nature of their work, are used to such challenging situations and can resolve them with ease. With adequate homework, proper research, and a problem-solving attitude, designers deal with these problems and create some of the best enterprise UX designs.
Enterprise UI/UX design requires a lot of expertise in the design of software, tools, and services. The needs of enterprises are different from those of the customers. The big organizations are willing to spend more money on a product or service, but they rely heavily on the ROI. Designers who are just starting their journey in the field of UI/UX may find it extremely difficult to meet the needs of enterprises.
Another important factor to consider here is that organizations are less forgiving as compared to customers. If their needs are not met according to their desires, they do not take a long time to find an alternative solution. This means that if your design is not working as expected, there is a big chance that you’ll lose the enterprise as a client.
Context becomes essential
Another challenge while working on enterprise UX design is the context in which the product or service will be used and the dedicated problem it has to be designed for. Enterprise UX applications are designed to be used in a specific environment (the workplace) and by a particular group of people (the employees of an organization). It is, therefore, important to meet their needs and consider the context in all phases of the design process.
This challenge gets more pronounced when you’re working on a design that can be used by various organizations according to their needs. This asks for more flexibility in the design and a little more room for customization. By doing so, you can give more authority and control to the enterprises and allow them to tailor the tool as needed.
Users are not customers
The users of enterprise software are not customers. This is a very big challenge to overcome, especially for beginners in the field of UI/UX design. Most of the practices taught and learned in UX design are focused on the customers. Here, however, the users of an enterprise tool are not customers. This means they are not going to buy your product for their personal use (unless it is a special product that both enterprises and individuals can work with).
The goal for UI/UX designers, therefore, is not to sell the product to the users. Instead, the design needs to be efficient and simple so that the tasks of the users are completed with ease.
Market is competitive
The market in enterprise UX design may not be saturated, but it is, nevertheless, competitive. The nature of competition is a little different in this case. Enterprises are looking for specific solutions to their problems, so they always go for a well-established and reputed UX design agency. Therefore, a new designer will find it hard to build that reputation and compete with the existing design firms.
Another aspect to look at is the margin for error. When working on enterprise UX design, the margin for error is reduced to the minimum. It is challenging to please the organizations and give them the solutions they are looking for. If your solution doesn’t work as expected, you may lose both business and reputation in the market.
A Comprehensive Enterprise UX Workflow
Similar to the fact that there is no consensus on the definition of enterprise UX, there is no standard enterprise UX workflow as well. The standard principles of design hold true for enterprise products and services, but UI/UX professionals need to focus on some minor details that may not be relevant for consumer UX design. If we look at some of the examples and ideas for this aspect of design, we can identify some enterprise UX design patterns.
What does a typical enterprise UX design workflow look like?
Enterprise UX design is a flexible practice, but some of the common steps are as follows:
- Talk to the end-users (i.e., employees)
- Take all the concerned teams on board
- Apply the principles of UX design
- Provide training
- Ensure constant support
The workflow for enterprise UX design focuses more on the employees and their needs in the workplace. Additionally, since the product or service is designed for an entire organization, it is important to take all the concerned teams, individuals, and departments on board.
The following steps serve as a guide for enterprise UX design. Just like any other design practice, there is always room for innovation and creativity.
1. Talk to the end-users (i.e., employees)
The first thing to do when you start working on an enterprise UX design project is to talk to your end-users. Remember, your users, in this case, are the employees of the organization who will be directly interacting with your design. This means that if you only talk to the executives, you will not be able to get the full picture. The executives may buy your product or service and distribute it among their employees, but the real users will be neglected in this way.
This step is not different from user research in any UX design project. The only difference here is that the nature of the audience is not the same, and the end-users are not as accessible as in a consumer UX design project.
2. Take all the concerned teams on board
The next step is to understand the nature of the workplace and interact with all concerned individuals and teams in the organization. This means that talking to a single team or department, especially when your tool or software will be used by various teams, is never a good idea.
For example, if you’re working on a CRM platform that also has the functionality of managing internal communication, you may have to talk to HR, marketing, documentation, online content management, social media, and other teams as well. This will give you a better idea of the needs of the organization as well as those of the specific teams. You can use this knowledge to create customized solutions for each team and make your tool more effective.
3. Apply the principles of UX design
When you actually get to the design process, do not forget to stick to the basic principles of design and UX strategy. Make your users (employees of the organization) an active part of the design process by applying the design thinking approach.
While working on an enterprise UX design project, make sure to adopt the workflow that you would in the case of any other design project. This means that the five steps of design: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test are still applicable. This is where all your experience and skills as a designer come in handy.
4. Provide training
Once you’re done with the design of the product, service, application, or software and the enterprise has bought your solution, the next thing is to provide them with the proper training. Since you have worked on the design, you are the best person to share all the details about the product or service. For appropriate use of the tool and to ensure that the employees make the most of it, organize a training session, or sessions, to teach them how to interact with the design.
It will be even better if you can manage to provide this service for free. This will help you develop long-term relationships with big enterprises by showing a good gesture of professionalism.
5. Ensure constant support
Another important step in enterprise UX design is to provide constant support and updates to the organizations that buy your products or services. This means that you constantly improve your design by releasing updates and making sure that you’re making the lives of the employees of an enterprise easier. The best way to improve the design is to gather feedback from the users. By conducting surveys at regular intervals, you can understand the pain points of the users and resolve their issues in the next update.
It is also necessary to provide technical assistance to them in case they need some help with the tools. You can do that by offering consultation and training sessions if needed.
The interest in enterprise UX design is increasing day by day. One of the reasons behind this trend is that organizations have started looking for more specialized tools for their workplace and workforce. They want their employees to spend more time on finding innovative solutions instead of performing mundane tasks. This is where UI/UX design has immense significance for modern organizations, irrespective of their domain.
There are, however, certain challenges in enterprise UX that design professionals need to consider while working on such high-stakes projects. For aspiring designers and beginners in the field of UI/UX design, it is important to understand what enterprise UX entails and what are some of the things they should be aware of before starting such projects. The future of enterprise UX design is quite promising, and we are going to see some remarkable solutions in the years to come.