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Showing posts from 2016

5 Ways to Handle the Design-directing Business Rep

I was reading a blog article, "9 do’s and don’ts of UX design", this evening and found this particular section concerning: "...sometimes too much corporate oversight can limit the design process, as many clients, who obviously aren’t designers themselves, don’t exactly know what looks and functions best on the web. While they surely have the best intentions, sometimes UX design is best left to the designers—they’re the ones with experience in the field after all." Coming from a corporate environment, this was really more of a whine since it didn't contain any constructive suggestions to handle the situation. So I thought I would share some things I've learned through the years about working with business reps. 1. Everybody is visual. Go with it. While you may have a business analyst to elicit business rules and process and to define the problem, when the solution is a UI it's easier for someone to draw out what they're thinking than to explicitly…

Evaluating Your User's English-as-a-Second-Language Ability

At my company we've been dreaming of being able to localize our UIs since I started working there. While we have localized here and there for the most part it just doesn't happen. There simply aren't the resources or knowledge.Instead our employees in all branches are required to speak English. I have no idea how branches determine whether a person's ability is up to standard to be hired. I've never seen any guidelines for branch management to follow and admittedly our industry is one where you have to learn a lot of jargon, too. I imagine that may other global enterprises are the same way. This means that your users may struggle to understand your UI, especially those newly hired employees. So part of your user research should be pointed at determining at what level your users can understand written English. Here are guidelines you can use based on the European Framework of Reference for Languages. (See Chapter 9 for more information.) I assigned the reading leve…

Enterprise Applications Are Not User-centered

Did I get your attention? Today in our BA/UX meeting our new, very consumer-oriented UX person asked why he is sent to our business representatives to get answers instead of having access to users. It made me realize how different our process in creating enterprise applications is from the process recommended in UX consumer-driven design

Don't get me wrong. Our employees do the work and the applications need to be designed to support them. But the process to complete the work takes center stage. In the enterprise you don't get to allow employees to define the process they would prefer to follow or even maybe currently follow to design a new application or update an old one. There are far more important things that matter to business such as adhering to government compliance and regulations and performing tasks expediently in a predetermined order or process.

Many large and international companies have a group that determines the processes that must be followed by employees all…

Placing Buttons on Your Pages

We've had an on-going discussion at my company about where to place main functional buttons. At one point we were following an application paradigm where all main functional buttons were placed in a menu bar at the top of the page. Prior to that and now we follow a web paradigm where all the buttons are placed at the bottom. We always placed them to the right until one designer started refusing to do this especially with search forms. His reasoning, and rightly so, was that the button was being placed too far to the right and away from the form so that the user was being forced to search for the Search button. When I finally understood my job as an enterprise UX designer, two things changed how I lay buttons out on the page. First, red routes. What is the single main task the user will do on the page? What does that part of their process look? What is the main data and/or inputs they need to do the task? When do they have the data to enter or review so that I arrange that informa…

Why People Don't Scroll Horizontally

I was working on Susan Weinshenk's 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People over the weekend. She has a page about scrolling. What surprised me was that she said people will swipe horizontally and we all know they really don't like scrolling horizontally. This particular issue has been coming up at my work, lately. We have some people who believe that some users are used to working in long tables because either they work in very large Excel spreadsheets or their job role is something to do with accounting. While there may be some users who are used to having to do the scroll left-right, I'm convinced that for most users, we should avoid it at most costs. Even in Excel they've tried to make it easier by adding the ability to hide columns. This entry in Susan's book left me wondering, huh? I know I have no problems swiping horizontally and I don't really think about it any more, but I hate scrolling left-right. So, why? I physically started imit…

"You're Not the User!"

It's the battle cry of all UXers: "You are not the user!" I couldn't possibly count the number of times the UXers at my company have sat around the table complaining about someone who blatantly considered themselves the user and they were to us soooo obviously not the user. Why didn't they see it? One time while I conducted a design workshop with my team. As part of my initial presentation, I had a slide that was that single statement: Remember, you are not the user. I had a manager pipe up, "But John is a user!" John was one of our business representatives. "He's been doing the job for years." I had to back pedal. You can't not recognize someone's experience especially when they're in upper management. This was my first realization that people don't take our battle cry very well, especially in the enterprise world. Many people who work in management have come up from our branches. Even the CEO at my company started out as…

Design Review versus Design Critique: Take Control!

I don’t know about you, but I hate design reviews. I finish up a bit of work and then I have to present it to the project team. “Wouldn’t that be better if you moved that down there?” “I don’t like that.”  "It should be just like _______." (Several of us call this JLO or "jello".) And of course we have the occasional business owner who thinks they’re a designer. I have grown a very thick skin. Add on top of it that in Agile, you have very, very little time to get design done. There is no backlog of completed design work. We’re lucky if we have a couple days to get requirements and design before dev is ready to work. So any rework is a major issue. As the sole designer I’m holding up the team or worse the developers will start without me. So getting design right without rework is a major issue. But then once you’re pretty sure about your work, the last thing you want is someone to walk into a design review and blow up your work so that you have to completely start o…

How UX Creates Business Value in the Enterprise

My company is a bottom-up UX company. We don’t have an upper UX manager, so we ourselves have to evangelize UX up to the top. In my group, I was the only UX designer for several years. And then there was two. As the lead I wanted to give our small but growing team some goals. As we talked, we realized that part of the problem we have is that we don’t know how to talk about ourselves to business in a language they understand. We wanted to create an elevator sales pitch for talking to executives. But really we hadn’t really ever listed out what UX can do for the business. I started by researching. We do know what we do from a business perspective, but how often do you sit down and really think about it or name it. I had most of them on my list, but have you ever thought part of your work limits company liability?  (Research is good.) So here is the statement that I came up with about how UX or good design creates business value as a starting place. Why good design? Because that is our…

The Top 5 Problems in Enterprise-level Usability Testing

As everything in enterprise UX, usability testing provides some interesting challenges. I thought I'd share a few issues and how I've gotten around them.


The Process Is Changing, So Make Sure Users Know It First and foremost, in enterprise testing, at least in my experience, we are never testing a UI where the users know the work process, because the basis of the UI is a major change to the process or a new process is being implemented. This is a BIG difference between B2C and enterprise UX! In B2C on an e-commerce website, you can make the assumption that your users know how to shop. This was a big hurdle for me. I never considered that the user didn't know the process. All the testing I had ever done or seen just presented the user with tasks and off they went. It took me a couple years and major testing failures to realize this. One of my developers kept telling me, "They need context! They need context!" And I finally got what context meant. The people we we…

What is Enterprise UX - Part 2

I realized after posting my last entry that I really didn't give a definition of enterprise UX that a lot of people may be looking for.

I've never seen a definition of enterprise UX. The best definition I've ever seen of UX is at All about UX:

The user experience is the totality of end-users’ perceptions as they interact with a product or service. These perceptions include:
effectiveness (how good is the result?), efficiency (how fast or cheap is it?), emotional satisfaction (how good does it feel?), and the quality of the relationship with the entity that created the product or service (what expectations does it create for subsequent interactions?).– Kuniavsky (2010)

The problem with this definitions is that it doesn't speak of the business value enterprise UXers are trying to achieve in their work. It's too focused on the customer-centric experience and sounds like UX will ride roughshod over any other discipline or business representative towards that ultimate de…

What Is Enterprise UX? - Part 1

Enterprise UX. Most UXers have no idea another whole field of UX exists. Nor do most the UX gurus. Enterprise UX is where you want to be if you really want a challenge. Why?


Enterprise UX is the design of usually proprietary internal applications that run businesses — complex businesses. Those applications handle a LOT of data. Not only does it have to be entered into the system, but it has to be displayed, associated from one thing to another and then reported on. Complex reference data is created based on customers, pricing, costs and operating procedures. Processes and production levels are observed, reported and commented on. But, there is never one standard process, because sales will always sell something unexpected and government compliance regulations must be applied. Governmental and other forms have to be created and sent. Communications have to be enacted with customers, governments, service providers and data must be provided to them all.

A large intentional company multip…