As custom applications become more common and more critical to businesses, there’s a tendency to think in grander terms than what the business and the end-user really needs. People may look at what’s available in the app store and get sidetracked from what the company and its employees require to achieve their goals.

As UX experts, it is essential for us to think about what the end-user really needs to do their job. This simple observation forms the basis of UX, or User Experience. What UX seeks to achieve is to ensure that the application not only meets the company’s need for security, solves critical business challenges, and integrates with legacy systems; UX also ensures that the app simplifies the end-users’ tasks so they can improve their job performance.

On being a devil’s advocate


While the enterprise may technically be our customer, we have to consider the needs of application user to develop an app that will satisfy everyone. As UX experts, our job is to represent the interests of the user and make sure that an application, while accomplishing a business goal, fits into the user’s day-to-day tasks. Here’s an example. Meet  Frank. He works in transportation and handles things in the warehouse and on the road. The business cannot function without him. If Frank is given a Ferrari to do his work, he’ll be very happy at first. However, when he tries to complete his tasks, he’ll discover he needs a van.

The Ferrari, while glamorous, only makes his job more challenging - maybe even impossible. So, even though the business may be thinking, “what does Frank want?”  The real question is, “what does Frank need to serve the business?”

Don’t deliver a Ferrari when a delivery van will do


What UX does is make sure that the right kind of performance is delivered. That way the enterprise application empowers both the business and the end-user to realize their objectives.

This is the true value of UX in enterprise. Understanding the user, defining the accurate user story and improving the process in order to fulfil the business needs. The best way to identify this is by carrying out bottom-up research. Start with the user's needs, and develop an app to ultimately serve the business goal. Not the other way around.

If you’re developing an application for your business, speak with the people who will use the app. Go out in the field with them or spend time in their office. See what areas an app can improve on, and let that guide your UX. That way you won’t build an expensive Ferrari when a more practical vehicle will do.

Good UX in enterprise apps will save the company money, time, lead to happier employees, and foster a more productive and innovative working environment.