What’s the difference between Enterprise UX and Consumer UX? UX Question #68

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C. K. from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, asks: What’s the difference between Enterprise UX and Consumer UX?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, C.K. This is UX Question number 68 and I am Ben Judy.

What’s the difference between Enterprise UX and Consumer UX? Well, back in episode 41 I answered a similar question, “What’s the difference between B2B and B2C?” There are nuanced differences between Business-to-Business product design and Enterprise product design. But largely, I think, we’re going to be covering the same territory. I encourage you to go back and listen to episode 41 for more perspective.

I’ll answer this by going back to a conference talk I co-presented years ago along with Alan Baumgarten called Design for Professionals.

In this talk, we introduced a playbook for designing user experiences for professional users, and we talked about how it differed from a typical UX playbook for consumer oriented product design.

Users of enterprise systems have greater domain experience, greater familiarity with digital tools, and are experts in the workflows and decision making processes related to their work.

A few quick examples: a consumer UX playbook will include plays or principles like, “Don’t make me think,” “Reduce clutter,” and “Simplify the workflow.”

When designing Enterprise software, however, your playbook should include principles like, “Efficiency trumps easy,” “Reuse screen real estate,” and “Design for effective collaboration.”

Think about designing for a consumer travel booking website versus designing the rules engine behind a corporate travel booking tool. Or consumer financial software like Mint versus professional tax software that an accountant would use to file extremely complex tax returns.

There’s a scene in the movie Jurassic Park that beautifully illustrates experience design for different types of users.

In the movie, billionaire John Hammond brings a group of science experts to his island theme park full of cloned dinosaurs. He needs their stamp of approval on the park.

So Hammond literally puts them on an amusement park ride designed for the many tourists he hopes will soon be visiting the island.

They watch a video with a cutesy, animated “Mr. DNA” explaining cloning at a third-grade level. Then a lap bar comes down and the ride moves, and they get a very brief peek at some people in lab coats doing science.

And then the professionals do something Hammond didn’t expect: they get off the ride. He didn’t anticipate their boredom with the basics, and their enthusiasm for the details. They wanted to engage with complexity, and they could handle working with that knowledge.

That sums up Enterprise UX design versus Consumer UX design. Different users, different knowledge, different needs. You need a different design playbook.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What is UX strategy?

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