4 min read

The Changing Face of B2B and Enterprise Designing

When we think of design revolutions, we normally reach for consumer-friendly companies and products across sectors (tech, retail, automation, etc.). This is not a wrong approach, however, it is one based on bias, purely because the media perpetuates this design aesthetic to satisfy the end user – customer. However, what many fail to understand, is much of revolutions and action is happening in the B2B sector – for companies and internal clients in the industrial, manufacturing and technology front. 

The B2B architecture model is solely based on helping businesses improve internal data storage, support and automate business processes with copious amounts of data and build a user-friendly UX that eases life. We can proudly say that today, we’ve come a long way from having built UX systems that only cater to these needs with minimal to zero user-friendly setting; as now more and more design firms are taking on these challenges to create better output with minimal strain. 

One of the key enterprise design thinking done by top-notch design firms is research. They don’t just blindly design an environment or tool that captures data, they dive deep into the enterprise’s world, learn about their current methodologies, develop a workflow that combats the challenges faced in the current design and finally, bring in technologies and design trends that would simplify the end users’ struggle. This form of thinking not only encourages you to look into the enterprise’s issues, but also helps you innovate and build lean prototypes that could be captured as ‘research’ goods that might help build a better UX design formula. 

While it’s important to focus on aesthetics when it comes to design, most B2B enterprises don’t care much for aesthetics as they do for functionality, efficiency and engagement. That being said, it is important to incorporate some UX design trends that we normally churn out for consumer driven enterprises. As systems and technologies are evolving to smarter and greater ones, old-school tool systems or even purely data driven designs may not always work best. 

How is designing for enterprises different from designing for B2C?

While design for enterprise isn’t all that different, there are some core differences when it comes to designing for B2B products vs B2C ones.

There will be obvious differences in their use cases, manufacturing times, testing and safety norms, user expectations, purchase and ownership, all of which will impact the design and process. Similarly for B2B apps, the difference is in the unique challenges it presents and therefore in the approach.

The Challenges

1. Functional Complexity

The scale of complexity is generally higher than B2C apps, due to innumerable factors like multiple data states, visualisation options, management operations, multiple-user collaboration and integrations with other software. Every design decision made to satisfy one requirement further affects many other requirements, sometimes in ways which are difficult to predict. A seemingly simple feature addition has to go through all kinds of checks and edge-case considerations.

2. Designing for an Employee Mindset

An enterprise user’s mindset and behavior pattern is quite different from a casual B2C user’s. An enterprise user, other than wanting to get his work done efficiently, often has other agendas like career growth, learning, and success within the organization. Designing for working professionals requires a good understanding of their job context, workflow, environment, aspirations, problems and also looking into their current solutions.

3. Addressing the High Costs Involved in Switching

Often, enterprise users might be too comfortable & complacent with their existing workflow to see the need to switch to another product. And even if they want to switch, it requires the consent and approval of a number of people. Not to mention, migration of existing data can be a pain for both the company and its employees. Unlike consumer apps, the cost of switching for enterprise apps is considerably higher.

4. Prioritising Building New Features

For an enterprise product, building new features, almost always, takes priority over enhancing existing user experience. It is very common to have dedicated design sprints when a product is starting out, but once the product has been launched, feature requests start pouring in. Paying-customers constantly keep asking for new capabilities and additions. Product teams chart out busy roadmaps ahead of them. At this point, it can be particularly challenging for designers to convince stakeholders to invest time and resources midway on improving UX and Design.

5. Maintaining Consistency

Every designer faces similar challenges as other teams and is quite likely to introduce inconsistencies to the product like changes in components, design patterns, or even details like colours. These problems tend to multiply manifold as the team size increases or the product starts to scale up.

Conclusion

There are many more ideas and concepts that are helping change the B2B and enterprise UX design world and many firms across the globe are innovating one tool at a time to help ease life. Join the revolution and who knows, you might just change the face of B2B design world. 

Published by Harikumaran SM

Sr. UI Designer

Hari

Harikumaran SM Sr. UI Designer