Why Enterprise UX is Hard
It can be tough to incorporate user experience in the enterprise software industry. The enterprises’ goals and metrics often tie more directly to the bottom line while overlooking user experience and user interface needs. Things are changing, though; in a 2019 survey, there has been an 18% increase from last year in CEOs who see user experience as a competitive differentiator. Still, there are often many additional challenges associated with enterprise UX. Systems tend to be large-scale and require a high level of complexity and may include varying degrees of end-user/personas. These are some of the unique challenges we face when designing software for enterprise systems.
What Groundswell Does to Help
Designers at Groundswell, such as myself, can often be found, providing an array of deliverables to help with solving these unique enterprise-level challenges. Some of the typical deliverables include research, wireframes, mock-ups, style guides, visual design, and interactive prototypes. As the design industry evolves, we see more and more deliverables requested from designers. One of the biggest trends currently is the implementation of design systems. Design systems are a single source of truth that groups all the design elements into one place and typically consists of a style guide, pattern library, and a component library. Lucky for us, Salesforce was one the first to implement a design system, so we’re no strangers when it comes to working with them. We leverage the Salesforce Lightning Design System daily while solving and creating custom designs on an as-needed basis. Our goal is to help make custom implementations seamless within a Salesforce environment.
Aside from the typical outputs, we as designers help foster a design culture throughout our company. We help educate and champion design to project managers, developers, and QA as everyone has an impact on improving the end user’s experience. On a grand scale, we strive to incorporate UX throughout the software development life cycle and the fabric of our culture, which helps reduce costs in the long run as resolving problems later on in development can cost 10x as much as fixing them during the design phase. On a smaller scale, we help with clarifying visions and validating early concepts. Our team also works very closely with the development team to ensure that the user experience is kept in mind and adhered to so that the final designs implemented are at a high standard.
Designing for accessibility is also very important to us. Ensuring we use the correct contrast ratios, not use color alone for critical information, and have accurate and usable focus states are some of the examples of how we design for accessibility. As designers, we are continually trying to improve on designing for convenience and inclusion. Some of our past implementations have reached over 150 countries in 46 different languages, so it’s also important to us to account for variations based on cultural preferences. We’ve helped prepare mock-ups in various languages and recommended fonts that help translate easily with multiple languages as an example.
The Value of Design
Improving user experience helps reduce resource burden and also helps improve people’s lives. From the business perspective, if users are satisfied, and can complete tasks with ease, then metrics such as organic engagement, user adoption, brand loyalty, and net profit will increase. In a study from Forrester Research, a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%. We’ve seen firsthand how design can increase efficiency and enforce consistency throughout a product life cycle, which is one of the many reasons why we value design.
As technologies keep advancing and enterprise software grows, a well-defined user experience is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. It has always been about the end-user and how they use the product. A well-designed interface and user experience mean satisfied users and increased productivity. To further explore how we have helped companies achieve a better user experience, see our case studies or contact us to learn more.