UX Burlington 2015: Why Enterprise software sucks (and how to unsuck it)

by Sam Selikoff November 2, 2015


Here are my notes from Rian Van Der Merwe's talk at UX Burlington 2015.


  • Why does it suck?
    1. Lack of empathy. You sell software to someone who wants control, configurability and customization, compliance... But the users just want to get stuff done.
      • As fewer people are able to use it, fewer people want to, until nobody does
      • Need to build for the job our users wants to accomplish.
    2. Too much legacy
      • Waterfalls. Spirit of agile.
      • Sprints do not mean agile.
        • Silos in an org
        • Too many people need to get involved to ship anything
      • Bureaucracy
  • The dysfunction in the organization becomes the dysfunction in the product, and that gets passed onto the customer.

  • How to solve this?

    1. Show the business the value of design
      • Market cap of design-driven companies (translate: more $)
      • Cost savings. The cost of making changes is dramatically different during design (1x) development (6x) and after launch (100x) (source: Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Appraoch)
    2. Shrink user-centered design to fit
      • "We don't have time up front." What about the inevitable phase 2?
      • Everything is on a scale, do what you can with the resources you have
      • From more costly to less costly:
      • Exploration: Studies, interviews, asking a friend
      • Prototyping: HTML, clickable prototype, paper sketch
      • User testing: formal, Starbucks
    3. Turn sales into a product design function. Product Forces framework gives us a common language to talk about this (jobstobedone.org)
      • Product forces: push of a situation, pull of the new idea
      • Allegiance to current behavior, anxiety of new situation
    4. Break down silos + encourage collaboration
      • Start with product discovery
      • Run a design studio. Get people together, design indepedently, share simultaneously.
      • Do user research

Product Forces diagram

  • Process leads to better Enterprise software
  • More about facilitation than design
  • Show them why it's important
    • You're not going to make their lives difficult
    • Give them a framework that covers the whole product
    • Make them part of the process
    • Avoid politics, include people

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