Best Practices in Enterprise UX Design

Abhi Chatterjee
4 min readMar 5, 2024

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Image source — https://www.ramotion.com/blog/enterprise-ux/

Designing for big companies can be really tough, but it also offers great chances for UX designers especially in making SaaS products and business tools. Getting better at designing for these areas can really help you find jobs in UX and product design.

In this article, I want to share some important things I’ve learned while working on software and business tools. I hope these tips will help you out as you dive into the world of enterprise UX design.

Observing Users: Beyond Testing

Observing users in action is incredibly valuable. Instead of just giving them tests or prompts that lead to specific answers we want, we’ve found it more insightful to follow them in their natural environment. Sure testing, research and preparation are important, but being open-ended and flexible in our approach yields better results.

Rather than just asking if they like a button or a color, we focus on how they interact with the application in real-life situations. Understanding their environment, whether they’re using a tablet or a desktop, is key. In SaaS product and enterprise tool design, users are often accessible, either within the company or easily reachable. Being able to observe them in their natural setting can provide valuable insights.

Unique User Requirements and Workflows

Each user group or team often has specific needs or requires customization to fit their workflow. It’s crucial to find a balance between streamlining the overall flow and providing enough flexibility for users to customize their experience. Many users rely heavily on SaaS or enterprise tools for their daily tasks and customization is often essential to help them perform efficiently.

Sometimes, it’s not just teams but individuals who have unique preferences in setting up their work environment and tools. While standardization is important, it’s equally vital to remain flexible and accommodate the diverse needs of different teams, groups or personas. This ensures that the tools can adapt to the unique requirements and workflows of each user segment.

Defining Your App’s Core Structure Early

One of the key lessons I’ve learned is the importance of defining your application’s core levels early in the design process. This involves breaking it down into three main levels: detail, core and high.

Begin by focusing on the detail level, where you identify the smallest elements that make up the user experience. These elements serve as the basic building blocks and DNA of your SaaS products. For instance, in Google Sheets, this could include data cells, formulas, text and numbers. In design tools like Figma or Sketch, it might encompass pixels, text, lines, shapes, colors and images.

Moving to the core level, consider where these details fit into the overall structure of the application. In Figma or Sketch, this could involve elements like menus, artboards, formatting panels and the overall ecosystem of the tool.

Finally, at the high level, think about broader needs beyond just creating mock-ups or artboards. Consider if you need collaboration tools, sharing capabilities, project organization, commenting features, editing history or the ability to link artboards to create a prototype.

Breaking down your SaaS software into these three levels helps your team understand its fundamental components, ensures everyone is on the same page and clarifies the hierarchy of the information architecture. It’s not only practical but also a fun exercise that can be done individually or as part of a design workshop.

Embrace Design Complexity

Embrace complexity in your designs, especially for SaaS and enterprise tools. While minimalism is a great starting point, users of these tools often expect more from the layout and pages they interact with.

Consider tools like Figma, Sketch or Adobe, where users become accustomed to the complexity of the interface over time. Most users of SaaS and enterprise tools are professionals who have been using similar products for years. They expect a certain level of complexity and functionality.

Even if your product is new, remember that users are professionals trying to accomplish tasks efficiently. They’ll likely use the application daily for extended periods. Therefore, it’s essential not to oversimplify the design at the expense of functionality. Avoid forcing users to navigate through endless pages to find what they need. Strive for a balance between simplicity and functionality to enhance the user experience.

Respect Your Users

It’s crucial to stop underestimating your users’ intelligence or professionalism. They’re not dumb or lazy; in fact, they’re very skilled and knowledgeable about the tools they use daily. Assuming they need everything simplified to child-like levels can be counterproductive.

Over-simplifying the interface can lead to annoyance. You might end up cluttering the design with unnecessary text and icons, trying to explain every step. Instead, consider consolidating help resources into one accessible location. For instance, a single question mark icon could lead users to comprehensive assistance when needed. Avoid over-explaining every detail and trust that users can navigate the interface effectively with the right support available when they need it.

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Abhi Chatterjee

UX Designer at Dubai Municipality specialised in User research & Interaction Design