An interface is the first thing a person sees when using an application and just as first impressions are important when meeting people – the same applies to digital design. The design market is segmented by industry and demographics. Digital agencies and product designers within them frequently focus on tackling the marketing of products while development studios may work on building solutions for clients.
While the business goals for designers in the two fields, may be different – the intent and goal is the same: to introduce meaningful digital experiences that improve the quality of people’s lives. As we grow, we wish to highlight the efforts of a key group to our organization that adhere to this philosophy. And so, we dedicate this piece to the exceptional Oktana designers that constantly work to bring the “Human” to “User Experience”.
I interviewed Lead UX Designer: Luis and Visual Designer: Analia to see what they thought about their experience with enterprise clients.
1.) Me: Are there any key considerations to take into account when designing for enterprises?
Luis: We often need to take into account that the application we design will scale and the need to be aware of the types of individuals that will access the application at each level of scale. An example would be when we leave room in our designs for further customizations to be added. We often try to include things that clients might find necessary that they might not even see the need for yet. It’s a balancing act to design for contingency situations but not create clutter in the process.
2.) Me: How do you keep track of what should be customized for clients and cost-benefit analysis?
Luis: We usually include custom components that we carefully evaluate beforehand for scalability. As part of this process, we research and brainstorm on the potential users that would be involved in different levels of scale. If anything, it is better to have a function in place that is removable than have it missing when a client really needs it.
3.) Me: What would be a good analogy for this process?
Luis: I guess it’s kind of like providing clients with Lego blocks if they ask for just a toy. We put a system into place that can be adjusted according to preferences and needs but also deliver on what they asked for.
4.) Me: What are some other considerations when designing for enterprises?
Luis: We need to deeply understand everything about the requirements that a project outlines. What helps us achieve this is by understanding how Salesforce Admins work with a legacy application. Another consideration we make is the end user of an enterprise application. We need to understand that these users are humans first and employees second.
5.) Luis: The majority of work that we do deals with internal applications (User Accounts) and designing for responsiveness in these applications.
6.) Me: I know for consumer products there is iOS and Google Material Design. What design patterns or libraries do you reference when designing on the Salesforce platform?
Luis: Salesforce has Apex and Lightning that has their own design patterns that we reference and know intimately. If a client approaches us with needs for a design that adheres to these guidelines, we know we have done these sort of designs countless times. This makes it easy for us to foresee delivery timelines and work with a tried and tested design workflow. Also, we reference prior style guides from legacy design teams that have built out definitions of what the client’s products should look like. We are very comfortable with this process.
7.) Me: I’m sure sometimes when you design enterprise products they might even be platforms that are global in scale. How do you design with such a huge demographic in mind?
Luis: That’s a difficult question! Well, we design from the top-down. We start with solving high-level problems in design and end up all the way down to focusing on localization for the global reach that our designs have.
8.) Me: Any stories in which you had to pay extra attention to details in designing for such localization?
Analia: There was one time we had a client project that had us change the way text was presented in an English-speaking version and a Chinese-language version. We had the capital letters of a word highlighted in the English version but we realized that Chinese characters don’t have capitalization. So we had to achieve the goal of highlighting key letters but working with unfamiliar characters. It was fun! Also, we communicate with our clients. Lots of people just buy stock designs lately as reference materials in discussions with clients but we still do initial design conceptualization by hand. This process ensures that our clients have a clear vision of how illustrations will look as they wait on final deliverables.
9.) Me: I would think that also with these demographics there needs to be consideration for the technical ability of people within an enterprise using the applications you design or redesign. How do you undertake this monumental task?
Analia: There are certainly people that ask for more functionalities because they become experts in using the applications we design. In the end, it’s all a balancing act. We have to add functionalities that these people want without breaking the established paradigms that the majority of users have with the platform. People become used to working in a certain way and if we disrupt that for a small but vocal minority we would be hurting the overall user experience for an organization.
10.) Me: I’d be curious to hear an anecdote in which something like this took place. Would you mind sharing an experience that you had with this kind of “balancing act”?
Analia: Sure. For one particular client, they had multiple channels in which to perform certain operations. We saw that these channels could be consolidated so we created a central hub that would manage the flow of the previous applications via a smart filter. When this happened, a bunch of people reached out to us asking if the filter could have additional functionalities that would further ease their workflow. We realized that these people performed some essential roles that would require these additional filters and decided that it would be worth adding the functionality for them. Other times, we test internally to uncover additional needs that would arise from a redesign before people even start to approach us.