Posts about Design

Workstyle icon Workstyle

Why designing for enterprise vs. consumer products isn’t as different as you think

Amanda B

In a recent article titled The Distinction Between Designing for Enterprise vs Consumer Customers, graphic designer and author John Maeda explains why designing for enterprise is different, and maybe more challenging, than designing consumer applications. But, as someone who’s designed applications for enterprise companies, as well as small business and consumer products, I’ve come to believe that the distinction between designing for consumer and enterprise applications has rapidly narrowed over the last several years, and today the distinction barely exists at all.

The user has become the decision-maker

Today, teams and employees often choose their own products. And that means it’s the best product and design that wins, rather than the best sales and marketing.

For traditional enterprise products, the model used to be that you sell to a C level executive at the company, and the employees use the tools they are given. If an application was painful, employees would use it as little as possible, and use time-consuming, often manual, work-arounds to avoid spending time in the tool.

Today, teams and employees often choose their own products. And that means it’s the best product and design that wins, rather than the best sales and marketing.

Users are picking the software they love, rather than the software that was forced on them.

Slack, Sketch, Dropbox, Sunrise, Google Drive, and Asana are all examples of this trend. Because switching costs are so much lower than they used to be, it’s a lot easier to choose your own tools at work. I see employees choosing the calendar tool that works for them, the communication tools, the document storage system, even design tools like Sketch. More and more, large team tool decisions are made bottom up. Users are picking the software they love, rather than the software that was forced on them.

What this means, is that companies building enterprise products need to be thinking less and less about wining and dining CIOs, and more and more about how to apply consumer thinking to enterprise product design.

Your goal as a designer is to build an app so great that your users want to shout about it from the rooftops, and share it with all their teammates.

Don’t rely on a sales team for user growth

Your goal as a designer is to build an app so great that your users want to shout about it from the rooftops, and share it…