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6 big UX mistakes enterprise app teams still make

Take a look at the top apps in any app store and you will see one common feature: great design. Read through the reviews of the top apps and it will become absolutely clear how much the user experience (UX) matters in the ranking of an app. 

For a long time, UX wasn’t a priority for enterprises. However, things are different now. Excellent mobility solutions are a necessity rather than an afterthought. After all, a mobile worker works 240 hours more than an average employee every year. Reports also suggest that 60% of employees use mobile apps to support work-related activities. Gartner predicts that by 2020, 75% of enterprises will have at least one internal mobile app, up from 33% in 2015.

With consumer apps setting unprecedented benchmarks in UX, enterprise apps cannot afford to fall behind. After all, employees are expected to use these apps at work every single day. If the app looks drab and tedious, takes too long to navigate, and feels like a third foot instead of a helping hand, it’s not going to be a success.

Don't forget that employees are consumers too, and they use a good number of high-quality consumer apps, such as those from Starbucks and Uber, in their daily lives. That means they expect consumer-grade experience from business and enterprise apps. 

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Here are the most common UX mistakes enterprise app developers often make.

1. Designing for the buyer, not the user 

No product can be rolled out effectively without proper research of the target audience. A number of enterprise app developers believe that their job is to follow the instructions of the buyer, usually meaning the IT department, and create an app that meets its expectations. But this is far from the right approach, because the buyer in this case is not the end user.

The IT department will only tell you about the product it wants. But designing an effective UX requires a sound understanding of the expectations of the end user.

Users in a specific industry, company, or workplace have certain behaviors and patterns they are comfortable with. The way they are accustomed to navigating the existing enterprise software, the jargon they use at work, and their current tech dependence are some factors that need to be considered before jumping into the development process.

These factors vary by industry, and the solutions you develop for a transport company may not help you one bit when developing an app for a healthcare company. 

It is, therefore, imperative that you conduct thorough user research with the help of interviews, surveys, and observation.

2. Not taking a look at legacy software

What’s the first thing you need to do to win a war? Know your enemy. 

If a company has decided that it needs a new enterprise app, it has already figured out that the archaic software it had in place, probably for decades, is just not sufficient anymore and needs to be done away with. But the developer must consider that end users have been using that software for years and are accustomed to certain basic workflows. 

It is a good idea to figure out which parts of the legacy software the employees like and retain those workflows in the new enterprise app’s UX. The idea is to transform the experience for the better, while maintaining a level of comfort.

This also helps companies reduce training time and facilitate quicker transition, thereby minimizing costs.  

3. Innovating too little, or too much

On one end of the wheel are enterprise apps whose developers refuse to put any effort into improving the UX. Employees are a captive audience, and there is no pressure to sell the app.

On the other end is an overenthusiastic developer who decides to redesign everything. Nifty icons and innovative graphics can look beautiful, but there's value in sticking to conventions when it comes to standard practices. For instance, "close" should always be denoted by an "x" symbol, to avoid any confusion. It’s a good decision to adhere to design guidelines recommended by Apple, Android, and other app stores.

As Apple succinctly puts it, “Don’t use system-defined buttons and icons to mean something else.” 

4. Thinking that beautiful design is for amateurs

Modern-day employees are extremely tech-savvy and increasingly mobile. Enterprise app developers cannot assume that it is enough for an app to just get the job done. Surely, the app must get the job done, but in style. Enterprise apps must be on par with successful consumer apps in terms of design. 

This means that enterprise app developers need to pay attention to aesthetic elements such as color, font, animation, sound, graphics, and microinteractions. Adapting all or at least most of these elements to make the app look and feel more like the consumer apps employees use in their personal lives will help employees feel relaxed and happy about work instead of being intimidated or overburdened by it. Blurring the lines between work and play has long been the goal of enterprise human resource management, and a beautifully designed enterprise app can get the job done. 

5. Not adapting across devices

Legacy enterprise software was designed to be used on desktop computers. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are used on smartphones and tablets, whose screens can range from 4 inches to 10 inches. A zoom-to-fit app interface just won’t cut it for a technology-fluent generation that often uses more than one device on a daily basis. An enterprise app must seamlessly adapt to all kinds of devices and screens. 

6. Not collaborating at the UX design stage

Even the most experienced enterprise app developer may not be an expert in all aspects of design involving each department. Somebody well versed in UX design may know nothing about accounting. To design a good app for the accounting department will therefore require a healthy collaboration with someone in that department.  

Collaboration is the key to designing a UX that works effectively for all users across departments.

Learn from others' failures

Understanding areas where enterprise apps are falling behind consumer apps and working on them will not only help develop better, more enjoyable apps, but also save the enterprise money in the long term in the form of lower training costs, increased productivity, better employee satisfaction, and reduced load on the IT department. 

Working the six areas noted above can ensure that your enterprise app not only becomes a true support system for employees, but also maximizes the return on investment. It also contributes to an enhanced enterprise mobility that helps you attract and retain the best talent in the industry. 

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Topics: Mobile