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Enterprise Applications: When Design Ideals Go Out The Window

Sidebench Team

When someone says “enterprise application”, most people’s eyes glaze over. If pushed to imagine what an enterprise app looks like – an app that is made to be used by employees instead of customers – many will picture a phenomenally bland user interface (UI) with a user experience (UX) that has an agonizing learning curve. Simply put, from a user standpoint, these apps are design disasters. It is no surprise that so many enterprise clients are looking to either newly design or redesign their applications. The problem with UX/UI design in Enterprise software applications is widespread, and it needs to be addressed.

Why is this the case? UI/UX design in enterprise apps is simply not sought after by the average manager at a large corporation. They want as much functionality as possible, and when they are paying to get these apps developed, they budget intuitive design as something that’s an afterthought. What enterprise software is required to do is last a long time. Contracts are often signed for 10+ years, and if you are going to use software for 10 years, you want it to be robust above all else.

This isn’t to mention that good design in general is a complicated procedure. To implement the ideas of “simple” and “intuitive” in a normal app is hard. To implement these factors into an enterprise system that encompasses many facets of a company’s operations is a fantastic task.

A New Era in Enterprise App Design

The expectation of great UI/UX is obvious when you look at any app store’s top charts. Nothing in the top 100 is badly designed, and if an app happens to be badly designed, people simply don’t use it. This ideology and scrutiny is especially strong amongst millennials, which is the generation that is freshly entering the workforce in droves. They will bring with them this deep-seeded need for ease of use and great experiences. The best candidates for jobs at these enterprises will not want to be working with an application that jars them away from the designs they understand and use every day.

As wishy-washy as this might sound to a decision maker at a larger corporation which has been doing business with under-designed enterprise apps, there is a plus side. Ease of use and good UX means that apps are intuitive and easy to learn. This is followed by lower training costs, less mistakes, and most importantly: better productivity from workers. All of this means more money in everyone’s pockets and work being done more efficiently. The enterprise applications Sidebench has made for a few clients have increased efficiency in the operations of multiple companies by factors of 10. One client in particular also saw a drastic increase in worker satisfaction; especially for the employees in their warehouses.

Many large enterprises have intrapreneurs lead the way to start the change in the design and feel of their company’s applications. C-Level executives are often either in need of convincing about the need for a redesign, or don’t even know how bad their software looks. Luckily, as younger millennials with entrepreneurial spirit enter the workforce they will be able to push for change, in turn increasing the productivity of the entire base of employees.

As enterprise corporations begin to catch on to the trend, and as more millennials enter the workplace with certain quality expectations, the need for better designed corporate applications will be key to recruiting the best talent, increasing employee happiness, and making even the largest companies more efficient. The problem with UX/UI design in enterprise applications should be gone soon enough.

Case and Point: Enterprise Software that Does Design Well

In the Sidebench offices, we use a range of enterprise software everyday. From Slack to Dropbox to Asana and Google Drive. Have a quick look at the fluid, user-friendly design these applications have. Each flow very well and are incredibly easy to learn and use. This means employees are more inclined to want to use them and productivity is much higher from the get-go. Investing in well designed software for your company is an essential part of bringing in talented new team members, spending less on training costs, and creating an environment that feels less like a bland, corporate office building and more like a productive, social coffee-shop work setting.

The Design Interfaces of Iconosquare and Asana.