We often talk about the consumer world and the enterprise world as two different universes, but that doesn’t make sense. After all, both “worlds” exist on the same planet and the same people inhabit both. Enterprise customers are also consumers—folks who love their intuitive devices, touch screens and responsive websites—and they have the same expectations about how things should work at work.
The reality is, the enterprise is no longer being consumer-ized. It’s already been consumed. To survive and thrive in the increasingly competitive enterprise market, we need to also create beautiful and entertaining apps. It’s no longer just about functionality, it’s about the experience.
Here are five principles consumers have come to expect, and principles that companies should learn to perfect:
Delight your users. Imagine a world where completing an expense was a positive experience, or logging a customer service request was a pleasant one. That makes the difference between what gets adopted and what gets abandoned.
Keep it simple. In the consumer world, using an app has to be dead simple because there’s no IT staff on-call to help. Employees want the apps at work to be the same: intuitive, easy and fun. Great software teaches the user how to engage with it. There are a lot of ways to do this, such as instructional videos, but the best way is to simply highlight the product’s primary few functions, then encourage users to experiment themselves. Be ruthless about efficiency; providing a product that enables a user to perform the required functions in as few clicks as possible will increase engagement and stymie “drop-off”.
Ensure it works across devices. Software should be built to be responsive on mobile, web and different screen sizes. The best consumer applications are also optimized to be as snappy and fast as possible. Apps that hang, take a while to load, or frequently crash, quickly get left by the wayside. The best enterprise applications (Chatter, Box, Yammer, Dropbox) embrace a relentless focus on design for performance.
It has to look cool. Appearance matters. Colors make a difference. Great web companies come up with bold, cohesive palettes that inform all or most of a company’s design choices. Avoid defaulting to software that looks like 1990s-era MS Excel. The most engaging, high-performance and immersive apps across both consumer and enterprise are built native.
Make it easy to buy. The days of three-year multi-million dollar deployments are coming to an end. You have to deliver solutions that are easy for customer to deploy, migrate, expand and update. The ultimate goal should be to make your product as easy as getting an app from the App Store.