UI Design: Your Enterprise Software is not Consumer Grade

If you own a smartphone, you have no doubt noticed the disparity between the apps you use for business and the apps you use in your personal life. The stark contrast in usability can be downright maddening if the applications you use for work haven’t been updated in recent memory.

Consumerization

Let’s start with a little context. If you’re visiting this page, there’s a high probability you’re familiar with the consumerization of IT. In our case, this term is simply used to describe the impact consumer applications have on enterprise applications. With the average U.S. consumer spending 60 hours a week across all of their digital devices, it should come as no surprise that we, more than ever, carry an expectation of intelligently designed, useful software in every aspect of our lives. Hardly a trend, this is something the enterprise needs to embrace in order to stay relevant in the eyes of their employees.

Enterprise Grade

Are your backend developers the designers as well? Do your employees use a collection of hotkeys to perform a single task? How about for your role based users—do they have only the buttons they need in front of them? Are you performing benchmark tests with your users after every aesthetic change? Worse, are your employees circumventing your application altogether and using a free solution like maintaining a manual document on the side? Honest questions they may be, these are a few hard truths CIOs and CTOs are facing everyday.

What else are they facing? Let’s explore some of their problems:

CIO

  • Employees not adopting expensive enterprise software
  • Employee onboarding takes too much time
  • Internal processes are broken and inefficient
  • Business is losing competitive edge
  • Employee satisfaction is on the decline while attrition rates are on the rise due to lack of modern, usable tools

CTO

  • Release cycles are hampered by engineering churn
  • Ambiguity in user flows and overall design causing unnecessary engineering cycles
  • Test cases are engineering driven vs. user driven
  • Sales and marketing unhappy with product
  • Executive leadership doubting technical leadership capabilities

In a time where “software is eating the world,” as Marc Andreesen articulated, our team works to address these problems by improving your employee’s workflow and satisfaction. Well designed software is not only productive, but the responsibility of every company moving forward.

Consumer Grade

Look at your favorite, most used app. Be it Evernote, Flipboard, or a game like Monument Valley, these apps are expertly made and well adopted by millions the world over. While we’re no stranger to consumer applications ourselves, we are clued into the principles of why these apps are great and work tirelessly to ensure our client’s receive the same level of user-centric sophistication and elegance.

Summary

While I used mobile apps for my examples—advancements in cloud computing and development methodologies are are steadily fueling the need for expertly crafted business software. Many analysts agree, in-house IT groups should leverage the ‘fresh eyes’ outside help brings to UX design as best practices are moving far too fast for enterprise teams keep up with. Enterprise grade software has never been synonymous with beauty and efficiency, but we are working steadfast in changing that, one pixel at a time.

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