The 7 Articles About Enterprise UX It’d Be Great If Someone Would Write, Please

Enterprise UX and consumer UX are very different animals. If this isn’t apparent to you, you’ve probably never worked for an enterprise software company. For the uninitiated, what I mean by “enterprise” is:

  • Software that’s made for companies and organizations
  • That provides domain-specific functionality
  • That individual consumers can’t or wouldn’t buy for personal use

Implicit in that definition are a few other common characteristics. Enterprise software usually has been around the block a few times. It’s not uncommon for successful enterprise products to be decades old, since often they’re the best or only option for certain business needs. Along with that age usually come the terrible twins of bloat and inconsistency. Like anything that’s been built progressively over a long period of time, the older parts usually look, feel, and work differently than the newer parts.

Old age also reflects the varying attitudes of the time periods throughout which the product has existed. UX has only risen to its current prominence in recent years, meaning many enterprise products were originally built without the aid of formalized UX praxis. As such, enterprise software is often, to be polite, a fixer-upper. A target-rich environment.

Launching straight from graduate school into the enterprise UX space has been a bit of a startling transition. While my HCI training gave me a lot of knowledge about fundamentals that apply to all user interfaces, most of the practical work I did, as well as the world of online UX thinkpieces in general, is oriented around consumer products.

Obviously consumer UX faces its own challenges. You’re much more beholden to market forces, PR blunders, and the alternately insidious or magical power of social media. You constantly need to prove your worth in terms of conversion rates and dollars and cents. But on the other hand, every famous UX personality and intellect out there is constantly churning out articles on how to improve your consumer UX skills and solve common problems. There’s a base of support and knowledge to draw on. And when you come up with a novel solution, you get to share it! Because consumer UX is public-facing and you’re much less likely to be broaching a confidentiality agreement.

In short, I read a lot of articles about consumer UX that simply don’t apply to my day-to-day life. I‘d love it if other experienced enterprise UXDs would write articles to help me solve the problems I run into on a daily basis. Here are just some ideas for titles to get you started:

  • Scrap It and Start Over: How to Know When a UI Is So Convoluted That It’s No Longer Useful and Needs to Be Completely Redone
  • 10 Techniques for Subtly Insinuating Yourself Into an Ongoing Project That Really Needs Your Help
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T: The Art of Convincing Experienced Developers that UX is Worth Their Time
  • It’s Not Easy to Say Goodbye: How to Gently Transition Users from Something Familiar But Problematic to Something New and Improved
  • Working for the Release-End: How to Work an 18-Month Development Cycle
  • Come Together: How to Create Unity, Communication, and Consensus in a Thinly-Spread Design Team
  • Write Your Own Bible: How to Build a Style Guide that Everyone and Their Dad Will Love

So…I guess now I just wait. If anyone wants to tackle those, go for it.

…If no one does, I might.

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