User experience design (UX) as defined by the Interaction Design Association refers to “...the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users." This involves the design of the entire process of acquiring and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.”
Typically, when non-UX designers think of UX, things like consumer-facing products with quirky branding and names, centered around one main purpose, come to mind. However, in enterprise companies where products are often built for complex, internal purposes, UX is often seen as a negligible part of the process. Why try and make products for administrative tasks engaging when employees have to use them, right? Wrong. Because when those same employees use products in their personal life from companies who seriously invested in UX design, the difference between those products and your company’s become especially glaring. As the folks over at JustInMind put it, “businesses need to secure good enterprise UX, because of its direct impact on productivity, employee satisfaction, absenteeism and staff turnover – to name just a few”. All of these are examples of things that create a big drain on budgets and time. The following points outline why enterprise companies should be doing more to invest and prioritize UX design in their product design cycle.
1) To create products based on the appropriate requirements to set the right foundation for a successful product
According to an article by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) titled Why Software Fails, there are 12 main reasons why software products often fall flat, one of these reasons being badly defined requirements. When project requirements are not well-defined this is often a case of the wrong problem being prioritized. This in itself creates a domino effect for the whole project. If we don’t have a concrete understanding of the right problem, how can we map out a viable solution? Furthermore, if we’re unable to map out a solution, how can we create a list of requirements to move into the next phase and ensure the eventual success of the product?
In this scenario, UX is essential. UX designers and researchers have the expertise needed to explore the problem-space and frame the right problem using methods like usability testing, as well as user and stakeholder interviews. Once the problem is properly defined, UX professionals can then go on to come up with the right solution and create a list of requirements that will bring that solution to fruition. Remember, as with most things, a proper foundation where you can build and grow is the key to success. For enterprise companies, this means investing in UX early to ensure that the correct problem is identified at the start.
2) Assess potential risks as well as validating product use and desirability
Using tools like interactive prototypes, UX professionals can test out possible solutions with employees in user-testing sessions. This allows UX designers and researchers to pinpoint potential risks, giving them the ability to review and refine product features. It also helps product teams validate that they’re developing a product that adds value for employees and improves their workflow. When companies prioritize UX in their products it ensures that these tools integrate seamlessly into the work environment and make a positive impact on their employees' day-to-day tasks.
Additionally, because risks and issues are identified and resolved earlier in the process before a heavy investment in development, companies can save more money. As Robert Pressman argued in his book, Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.”
3) More accurate budget and timeline estimations
According to Pabini Gabriel-Petit in his article Why UX Should Matter to Software Companies, “51 percent of software projects that are completed are significantly late, over budget, and/or do not include all essential features and requirements.” When UX professionals are part of the processes early on, they can outline what the requirements and solutions are based on research. This planning greatly helps product leads and managers by giving them the information they need to accurately plan out timelines, ensuring essential requirements and features are accounted for. Project managers are also able to provide more accurate budgets to business leads based on detailed planning, research and product validation.
4) Foster innovation
By properly investing in UX, enterprise companies give product teams a chance to explore. They allow product teams to look at the problem they’re hoping to solve, from different perspectives and analyze different scenarios and solutions. This creates room for insight, where the product team can think a bit differently about the product they’re creating. This, in turn, leads to innovation or else, a validated method of doing something different than it’s been done before. This could come about in the form of a different UI pattern, for example, using elements such as sliders and toggle buttons in a form instead of dropdowns for every input.
In conclusion, while the design for enterprise companies may have a slightly different set of requirements than design for consumer products, the need for UX design is just as important and necessary. If enterprise companies want to improve productivity and retain employees longer thereby increasing their product line, they need to prioritize UX in their products
● Why UX Should Matter to Software Companies - Pabini Gabriel-Petit (March 6, 2006),
● The Bottom Line: Why Good UX Design Means Better Business - Goran Paunovic (March 23, 2017)
● Why enterprise UX matters - Justinmind (Jan 7, 2019);
● The business value of UX experience design - Ines Anic (Dec 2, 2015);
● Defining Enterprise UX - Jonathan Walter and Chris Braunsdorf (Sep 24, 2018);
● Demonstrating the Value of User Experience to Enterprise Product Teams, Part 1 - Jonathan Walter and Chris Braunsdorf (Nov 5,2018);
● 3 Problems Killing Enterprise UX Design (And How to Fix Them)- Jerry Cao (2nd June 2015, Updated on 1st February, 2017);
● The state of enterprise UX design in 2017- Jerry Cao (Jul 10, 2017)
● Enterprise UX design: Problem solvers wanted - Robert del Prado (Dec 26, 2017)
In this series we will walk through some of the many things to consider before adding that “simple input” into your next design.