It's important to balance design with business goals; this means that sometimes it's better to trade eye-catching designs for something more subtle (especially in enterprise design).
By Samihah Azim (Product Design Manager, Bluenose Analytics)
Often, in consumer product design, one of the goals of designers is to craft immersive experiences that delight users - these experiences are often created for the sake of delighting users. Sometimes this is done through creating an Easter egg or a slick jQuery animation. In enterprise design, the goal is less about creating delight for the sake of delight and more about creating a product that adds value and makes the user’s life easier, while balancing business goals.
Eye-Catching Design Isn't Always Better
Enterprise users care less about being delighted and more about using tools that can make them successful at their job. They want features that solve a need for them - delight is a "nice to have," not a "need to have."
For some users, this could mean the ability to personalize their views. For others, this could mean features that allow them to take direct action after consuming content that has an aﬀect on their work. At Bluenose, the design team focuses ﬁrst and foremost on solving the needs of our users - everything else comes second. Nearly every design decision is made because it solves a problem for our users.
Does Your Design Distract From the Message?
A few months ago, we needed to standardize colors used to display the data in our visualizations. The ﬁnal two contenders were quite diﬀerent. One used a number of bright colors, the other used 5 hues of another color before moving onto the next color. We ended up going with the latter because, while a multi-bright colored graph would have been a delight to view, it would have put the UI ahead of consuming data. In this instance, delighting our users would have been a short-term goal with negative implications for the long-run - and the decisions made kept the daily habits of our users in mind.
Solving the User's Needs
Certainly, delighting users and solving their needs aren’t antithetical to each other - but in enterprise design, delighting users for the sake of delighting them does a disservice to users. The vast majority of our users aren’t highly technical, and they’re constantly interfacing with their own customers. They don’t have time for delightful experiences on a micro-level. To many of them, delight is really about being successful at their job. When I’m designing features for our users, my goal isn’t to create pixel porn for Dribbble, and sometimes the focus isn’t solely on usability. My focus is to design features that solve our users’ needs, while making that feature easy to use, and using visual design to reinforce the user experience.
As designers, we may be tempted to delight our users for the sake of delight when we’re designing enterprise products, but our priority should be solving the needs of our users and balancing those needs with business goals.
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About the guest blogger: Samihah Azim leads the UI & UX efforts at Bluenose Analytics to bring the clean aesthetics and intuitive experiences in consumer product design for users of an enterprise product. Prior to that, she founded GleeBox to connect users to local goods, led product design for BizeeBee creating software for local businesses, and has designed interfaces and experiences in the consumer software space. She wholeheartedly believes in constantly learning and going after your goals. Follow her tweets about design, soccer, and macarons @samihah.