How to design enterprise apps that sell

4 min read
Margaret Kelsey
  •  Nov 6, 2015
Link copied to clipboard

Your customers expect great UX from your enterprise app. So do you. With gnarly legacy code to wrangle, complex requirements to manage, and results to deliver, you need to have the right process.

So we had Jessica Tiao, UX designer at Kissmetrics, join us for a webinar on the tools, advice, and best practices you need to succeed.

Watch the full recording below, or read on for our short recap on Jessica’s talk.

4 tips on designing enterprise appsTwitter Logo

Jessica introduced a few techniques that you can use right away to design awesome enterprise appsTwitter Logo and increase your revenue.

1. Narrow your scope
One of the first things a team can do: identify a group as your target audience. Instead of satisfying a broad group of people, satisfy a specific user or persona.

A great example of narrowing scope is Mailchimp. There are countless email providers these days. But as a product, Mailchimp has kept its core business model the same: they help people send better emails. They don’t dabble in transactional email (they have an entirely different product for that)—they keep their focus.

“Designers: take things away until you cry.”

Twitter Logo

If you were to design the next great sales tool, what kind of salesperson would you be trying to help? Is she in the software industry, or does she sell cars? Does she mostly sell in the field or through the phone? With these specific scenarios in mind, you can design better apps that help close deals.

2. Take things away until you cry
Frank Chimero first popularized the saying—and his advice makes a lot of sense. Go through each design element, and remove them one at a time. If the design works just as well without it, kill it!

A traditional POS system

Let’s look at Square. You’ve seen traditional POS machines when cashier inputting grocery codes or when your order a cup of coffee. Traditional POS systems have a visual display, a keyboard, a receipt printer, another display for the person checking out, and a card reader. That’s 5 pieces of hardware just to make a single transaction happen.

Square designed a POS system that reduces all those devices into a single interface: an iPad. By attaching a card reader to an iPad, the POS system is all inclusive—the iPad serves as both the displays and the input via touch. The UX of this greatly reduces overhead costs on training as well as investment in equipment. And that means more sales for Square.

3. Break up with your designs
Sometimes the one thing that gets in a person’s way during the design process is themselves. Designers can be emotional. They want their designs to be perfect, new, and innovative.

Jessica told the story of one of her first projects at Kissmetrics. Inspired by an MIT project called Scratch where people could drag and drop parameters as if they were building blocks, Jessica spent a week fleshing out an idea for a feature that would allow marketers to filter their data to reveal user patterns. It was complicated.

Teammate feedback made her realize that the design wouldn’t work with the current customer base, so she had to abandon the idea. Ultimately, they then moved onto a simpler design that used established UI patterns within the app, which was better for their users.

“The best thing you can do during the design process: get out of your own way.”

Twitter Logo

4. The product release is just step one in the process
It’s easy to think that as soon as a product launches into the market, you’re done and it’s time to move onto the next thing.

In enterprise, that’s so far from the truth—it’s something you have to support going forward, and you don’t know if it’s any good in increasing your retention or revenue until a few months out.

For example, the iPod was released in 2001. It was positioned as the Walkman of the 21st century that put 1,000 songs in your pocket. Now, the iPod has evolved into the iPhone—with photos, games, and apps.

The iPod story illustrates that you need to design a simple product as an introductory concept. Then, as you gain user acceptance, you can improve the product as users respond.

Getting people to adopt a product—and making the product continuously evolve as users respond—is key to its success. When you design an enterprise app, getting to launch is one step in a bigger journey in your design process. Talk to your users, get feedback, and see what serves your users better. Don’t be afraid to change directions.

Collaborate in real time on a digital whiteboard