Traditionally, enterprise products were heavily focused on getting the functional job done. Later, they started prioritising over customer experience. However, with the changing times, improving enterprise product quality in terms of aesthetics and user experience has become paramount to a business’s bottom line. In light of the same, we spoke to Meenakshi Vinod, Lead Designer, KredX, about bridging aesthetics and experience in Enterprise Products, and here’s what she had to say.
Any user who visits an enterprise application daily would have come across this question,
Can Enterprise Products look attractive?
Let us assume a scenario where it is an ordinary day for the enterprise user. He is all geared up to use the application but, unlike B2C Platforms, where the users are looking for immediate gratification, an enterprise user has to fulfill tasks no matter how lengthy or tedious it may be.
As the work for an enterprise user can get mundane, establishing his / her focus on the enterprise app for long periods might get challenging, which may lead to less productivity. Also – the lack of seamless experience, nested modules, information load, and a bland environment may demotivate the users to work to their optimum potential.
Here comes the tip-off point where the user is looking for a change. It is at this niche moment the creators can capitalise, introduce elements of an intuitive and delightful experience, and provide the user with some sense of motivation to keep their engine running – to complete the tasks in an agile and nimble manner.
Now, let us try and understand an enterprise product from an experience standpoint. It is a platform that comprises various aspects, of which four factors that broadly influence are:
- Business Processes and Workflows
- Source of truth
It becomes more challenging when there is layered complexity, role-centricity, multiple modules, and ever-scaling features.
Amidst this, is it possible to have an aesthetic appeal and intuitive experience within an enterprise app? Though numerous perspectives influence this, let us explore a few:
A Solid Blueprint
A well-sorted User Experience (UX) Strategy and UX Architecture that is adaptable and customisable would help build a strong foundation.
By laying out a strong foundation, any enterprise product can be well-equipped to address the inevitable change management that arises out of behavioural, organisational, or environmental factors. Enterprise experience should not just be predictable but also be adaptable to such organic and inorganic contingencies.
Simplifying Layered Complexity
Enterprise-grade applications are divided into multiple modules, nested into multilayers, and also keep scaling. A modular design approach with coherent navigation will help streamline the experience for a specific user/role/team.
Unified User Interface
Where UX becomes the skeleton for an interface body, User-Interface (UI) layers like colours, text, alignment, graphic elements, progress indicators, graphs that convert data points, and micro-motion elements together add flesh to it. A robust grid binds these UX and UI components to deliver a unified visual experience for an end-user that leads to a scalable and customisable design.
When we devise an interface in a structured/modular format, it can tend towards monotony to the users. Here is where we can introduce interface delight elements like:
- Graphic elements like progress indicators, charts, tables, graphs
- Success / Error / warning indicators
- Attaching brand elements to the interface
- Themify the design
Keeping The Right Balance
Unlike B2C products, where users look for instant gratification, B2B, or enterprise users focus on completing a specific task. No matter how complex the workflow or task is, enterprise users are programmed to adapt to it. Hence, it is paramount to give them a design interface that sets a favourable balance between enterprise best practices and interface delights.
The ultimate intent of the creators of a B2B product should be to make it functionally adaptive, as well as, visually enriching for a holistically fulfilling experience to the end-users of the platform.
Though the challenge always exists to prioritise aesthetics over functionality and vice-versa, the visual and functional experience of an enterprise should always be tight-knitted to each other. If done right at the initial stages itself, you will be presenting a contented and consistent experience for the user.
To conclude, with a simple analogy:
If there is an ice-cream with a cherry and an ice-cream without one, the former one is more attractive. A B2B enterprise experience is just like this ice-cream, where the essence of the product is owned, with or without the cherry a.k.a delights, but if you have them it would surely give the users a sense of measurable accomplishment!