Enterprise software, typically developed by an outsourced software solutions company is different from consumer applications. As the pace of technological development and user expectations continue to grow, the line differentiating consumer and enterprise app design has become virtually nonexistent. User expectations have grown to a level where they expect the interactive and easy-to-use nature commonly found in consumer applications.  

In the current technological landscape, the enterprise and consumer user is typically the same person using different technologies for work and leisure. Therefore, it might seem as though there isn’t much of a difference between the two from a system design and UX perspective, however, digging deeper would give many development teams the truth – the differences lie in the details and these factors must be understood to build an enterprise system that is usable.  

The Differences 

Enterprise projects are typically commissioned by people who might not be end-users of the finished product. Employees are often the end-users but have very little influence in deciding or purchasing an enterprise system. The development and sale of an enterprise system usually takes many months to a couple of years depending on the scale of the system. This process often widens the communication gap between system designers and end-users. Consequently, the end product or system, in this case, would have reduced usability. 

It is vital that businesses recognize the value of good UX and make an effort to factor in employee or end-user opinions during the system development phase. Employees today use cutting-edge consumer applications as outdated applications will result in loss of productivity, interest, and ultimately profitability. 

Designing for Software Updates
UX and system designers need to make a considerable effort to ponder how system upgrades or new features would impact the existing system. Making the user uncomfortable could have disastrous results in terms of productivity. Users may refuse to make use of the system which defeats the purpose of a usable product. 

Enterprise Apps are Non-invasive
Consumer apps, often offered free of charge are very different from enterprise applications. Consumer apps run on advertising revenue and aim to keep the user engaged by having an addictive quality. Consumer UX designers device ways to keep the user engaged with the application whereas, in the enterprise application setup, functionality needs to be minimally invasive to allow the user to perform tasks quickly and efficiently. In a nutshell, consumer UX is built with commercial interests and enterprise apps are built with the interest of attaining business goals.

The Design Process
When it comes to the design process for consumer and enterprise applications, the principles are essentially the same. The process typically begins with research and progresses to subsequent stages such as ideation and testing before the final design is produced. The key difference, however, is that UX designers usually have a general idea of what a consumer user needs as they use consumer apps themselves. Whereas in the enterprise setup, UX designers are completely at sea when it comes to user perspectives and rely heavily on research data. They would also require industry knowledge to develop applications that cater to specific industries. 

Enterprise UX design requires a cautious conventional approach as there is limited scope for excessive aesthetics. In addition, enterprise systems include multiple user roles, privileges, security and other compliance-related factors that take precedence over innovative functionality or aesthetics. 

UX design, be it enterprise or consumer must be performed by understanding the user and the market clearly. Thorough research is bound to make the right impact and contribute towards user satisfaction in both consumer and enterprise UX. The primary focus of enterprise UX is to help employees do their job successfully. This by no stretch of imagination means that enterprise apps should be outdated with clunky user interfaces (UIs). The UI does not have to be dazzling nor should this be top priority. Finding the perfect balance would be the best approach. 

The advent of applications like Slack or Google Drive, for instance, has shown us that enterprise applications could have excellent UX where employees could interact with applications with virtually no training. The primary focus of an enterprise application should be how well it gets the job done and not necessarily on how the app looks.