What do you think of when you hear the term enterprise UX? Designing corporate Human Resources (HR) systems or intranets? Many articles and books for UX professionals focus on designing Web sites and mobile applications for consumers. But what about the silent majority of users in the workplace who are trying to get their job done? Many of them think of enterprise software as the generally sub-par tools that companies force them to use.
However, over the past few years, enterprise UX has started to get more attention from user-experience thought leaders. (There’s even a conference dedicated to it.) But what does enterprise UX actually mean? From what we’ve observed, it seems that there is not yet an agreed-upon definition of this term. This fuels confusion about enterprise UX, why it matters, and what scope it encompasses. Therefore, in our first column on this topic, we’ll
provide a working definition of enterprise UX
describe a few of the many environments in which enterprise UX makes a difference
identify obstacles to designing and developing great enterprise software Read More
UX professionals often find it difficult to demonstrate the value of User Experience to enterprise product teams, especially when companies or organizations lack UX maturity. Perhaps you’ve found yourself outnumbered on teams of solution-focused developers and their like-minded peers, feeling as though no one understands your perspective. You might have been the recipient of a dismissive arm wave. Maybe someone has told you that a product or a feature does not require UX oversight—even though it does. Perhaps stakeholders have told you that they already know what users want or there isn’t enough time to address a product workflow that could satisfy a core user need.
When you meet resistance from teammates and stakeholders, do you turn tail and slink away, then allow a product to go to market without its receiving the appropriate level of UX attention? Hopefully not! Some battles are worth fighting—as uncomfortable as they might be. As I described in “Demonstrating the Value of User Experience to Enterprise Product Teams, Part 2,” responding tactfully to caustic feedback from teammates is a challenging skill to master. It requires empathy, a trait that UX professionals must often draw upon in relating to the people who use our products. It is just as important to demonstrate empathy for our teammates, who are under their own pressures and must often meet challenging deadlines. Read More
If you’ve worked in enterprise environments with a scarcity of UX resources, you already know how difficult it is to institute design processes whose goal is to improve your craft and the quality of your design deliverables. At companies that allocate insufficient funds and support to User Experience, there is often limited opportunity for activities beyond approved, budgeted project work. Moreover, building additional commitments into your schedule can be exhausting when there are already several, disparate product teams awaiting your and your teammates’ design deliverables. Activities that focus on collaboration with UX teammates and craft are usually the first to fall by the wayside.
However, making the time for UX teammates to come together and focus on our craft and the quality of our deliverables benefits not only us, but the entire company—especially the product teams with whom we work. Doing so helps prevent inconsistent designs, the use of different user interface components and patterns to accomplish essentially the same things, and, above all, the creation of poor user experiences. Furthermore, if we fail to prioritize collaborative activities that would improve the design work and deliverables of the entire UX team, we risk creating a vacuum that product teams would happily fill with their own design solutions—perhaps relying on false assumptions rather than user-centered design and often resulting in subpar user experiences. Read More