What is enterprise software?
Here's the definition from Wikipedia: An enterprise application is a computer program designed primarily to meet the needs of an enterprise, not an individual user.
Some enterprise software that you may have used or seen
In the modern enterprise, most enterprise applications are complex, scalable, distributed, modular, and perform important functions. Enterprise software presents, processes, and stores large amounts of data, which are often complex and the foundation of entire business processes.
Using enterprise applications can help you build your products and help companies and employees do their jobs better.
Note: Although there are some minor differences in the definition of B2B and enterprise applications, these differences have little impact in the current software ecosystem, so they are described together here.
2. In terms of design, what is the difference between B2B and B2C?
There is nothing special about designing for a business, and good design principles apply everywhere. But comparing the product design of B2B and B2C, they still have some differences.
Imagine building a car vs building a commercial airplane. They're all very good engineering, and both help people move from place A to place B. But obviously, they have many differences, such as usage scenarios, manufacturing time, testing & safety specifications, user expectations, price, and ownership. And these differences will affect the way it is designed.
For B2B applications, the difference lies in the unique challenges and approaches it presents.
Design challenges to face
Disclaimer: Some problems are encountered when designing other types of products, but these problems are more pronounced when designing for enterprises.
(1) Complex functions
The complexity of B2B apps is usually higher than that of B2C apps. Because B2B products have countless influencing factors, such as multiple states of data, visualization options, management business, multi-user cooperation, and the need to work with other software. In the process of each design, not only to meet the current needs, but also to consider other functions, sometimes it is difficult to predict which other businesses will also be affected. The addition of a small function requires a comprehensive inspection of the system, and various edge cases should also be considered.
Atlassian's Jira software interface, an example of a complex software
How to solve the complexity problem? Of course, the way to do it is to simplify. But don't make the mistake of thinking it's about simplifying the interface, or something like the now-popular minimalist UI. The right way to simplify is through a proper planning process. No matter how tight a project is, it pays to spend as much time gathering, thinking about, sorting through requirements, and setting priorities before starting the design work. In fact, these are a very large part of the design work.
If you are confident in your solution, you will directly transition to Sketch, Figma or PS stage. However, this is too early. We should take some time to sort out the various related things and possible results in the current project, do research and planning in a way that you are familiar with, find out all the possibilities, and handle all kinds of marginal cases. When you b2b data are all ready, proceed to the specific interface design.
"If I had 60 minutes to cut down a tree, I would spend 40 minutes sharpening the axe, then 20 minutes cutting the tree." -Abraham Lincoln
Proper planning, and establishing the right design process allows us to design products with a consistent experience, clarity, and fewer issues across long-term projects.
(2) Design for employees
The thinking and behavior patterns of an enterprise user (enterprise employees, etc.) are different from the more casual users of B2C products. Enterprise users, in addition to completing his work efficiently, have many other things to do, such as career growth, learning and promotion in the organization, and so on. Designing for professionals requires a deep understanding of the upstream and downstream of their work, their workflow, their environment, what they want to do, their problems, and their existing solutions.