The Intersection of AI and UI/UX in B2B

The Intersection of AI and UI/UX in B2B

Apr 15, 2024

B2B UX design often faces challenges in delivering intuitive and user-friendly experiences, especially in enterprise software solutions like time-card systems, expense reporting portals, and HR recruiting software. These challenges arise from various factors:

  1. Complexity of Tasks: B2B software is designed to handle complex business processes and tasks, which can result in intricate workflows and interfaces. Users often need to navigate through multiple steps and options to complete their tasks, leading to frustration and confusion.

  2. Diverse User Needs: B2B software caters to a diverse range of users with different roles, responsibilities, and skill levels. Designing interfaces that accommodate these varied user needs while maintaining consistency and usability can be a daunting task.

  3. Legacy Systems: Many B2B software solutions are built on legacy platforms with outdated technologies and architectures. Updating and modernizing these systems to meet current usability standards without disrupting existing workflows can be challenging.

  4. Feature Overload: B2B software tends to be feature-rich, offering a wide range of functionalities to meet diverse business requirements. However, cramming too many features into the interface can overwhelm users and make it difficult for them to find and use the features they need.

  5. Lack of User-Centric Design: In some cases, B2B software is developed with a focus on technical capabilities rather than user needs and preferences. This results in interfaces that prioritize functionality over usability, leading to poor user experiences.

Understanding the Challenges of B2B UX Design

The challenges surrounding B2B user experience (UX) design stem from several understandable factors:

  1. Legacy Systems and Outdated Practices:

    • Much of the B2B software currently in use was developed in the late 90s or early 2000s, when web app design was in its infancy. These older systems were often built by engineering-focused teams with little to no consideration for UX or UI design. Their primary focus was on functionality and feature richness rather than usability.

  2. Resistance to Change:

    • Once a piece of software gains wide adoption and becomes feature-rich, implementing a design overhaul becomes a daunting task. The scope of such a redesign is often large, and there's a high risk associated with undertaking such a significant change. Additionally, existing users may resist changes to something they are familiar with, even if it means improving usability.

  3. Complex Business Logic and Customer Needs:

    • Over time, enterprise products accumulate dense and complicated business logic, often tailored to meet the specific needs of large clients with significant purchasing power. Redesigning such software to improve UX can be challenging, as it may upset customers accustomed to specific application behavior.

  4. Misalignment of Buyer and End User Needs:

    • In many B2B purchasing scenarios, the IT and procurement departments are responsible for selecting software solutions on behalf of the enterprise. However, their assessment criteria often prioritize factors like functionality, security, and cost, rather than usability. The end users' experiences with the product are often not considered in the buying decision.

  5. Lack of Expertise in UX Evaluation:

    • Many companies lack the expertise or resources to conduct thorough UX reviews, even if they recognize the importance of user experience. End users are typically not involved in the purchasing decision, leading to a disconnect between the buyer's priorities and the end user's needs.

Strategies for Designing Better B2B Applications

Improving B2B applications requires a strategic and incremental approach, considering the challenges of replacing entire UIs at once and the need to prioritize usability enhancements over time. Here's how companies can approach this from a design perspective:

  1. Develop a UX Roadmap:

    • Construct a roadmap outlining incremental UX improvements over time, including updates to both net-new products and legacy UI components. Establishing a component library or design system ensures consistency across all design work and facilitates phased enhancements.

  2. Collect Stakeholder Feedback:

    • Gather feedback from various stakeholders, including sales, customer service, and support teams, who interact directly with users. This feedback, obtained from demos, onboarding processes, complaints, and bug reports, serves as valuable input for identifying UX pain points and improvement opportunities.

  3. Engage End Users:

    • While secondhand data from stakeholders is valuable, direct input from end users is indispensable. Conduct open-ended interviews with users to gain insights into their experiences, preferences, and challenges with the software.

  4. Create Affinity Maps and Customer Journey Documents:

    • Synthesize stakeholder feedback and user insights into affinity maps to identify recurring issues and prioritize areas for improvement. Develop customer journey documents to visualize user interactions and pain points, gaining organizational buy-in for UX changes.

  5. Leverage Established UI Standards:

    • Adhere to common UI standards, such as Material Design, to ensure consistency and familiarity for users. While Material Design provides a solid foundation, consider modifying components to suit the unique functional requirements of B2B applications. Study popular software interfaces like Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn for inspiration and incorporate similar elements where applicable.

  6. Address Functional Requirements:

    • Not all UX issues stem from UI components; some may result from functional gaps in the software. Collaborate with product managers to identify and address these gaps, ensuring that new features align with user needs and business objectives. Utilize collected data to support the development of functional requirements and user stories.

  7. Measuring Success in Enterprise UX

    Enterprise UX success can be measured through various strategies and tools, ensuring that design efforts align with business objectives and deliver tangible results. Here's how UX teams can effectively measure success in enterprise environments:

    1. A/B Testing for ROI:

      • Implement A/B testing to compare the performance of new UX designs against existing ones. Define key metrics to track, such as task completion time, user success rates, or task abandonment rates. Analyze the data to determine if the new design improves desired metrics and delivers ROI.

    2. Identify Relevant Metrics:

      • Unlike in the B2C world, B2B software may have different goals that require unique metrics for evaluation. Focus on metrics that address pain points identified in the affinity diagram and align with business objectives. Metrics could include time to complete tasks, user success rates, or feature usage.

    3. Utilize Analytics Tools:

      • Leverage analytics tools tailored for SaaS environments, such as Pendo, WalkMe, or Userlane, to collect relevant data on user interactions and behavior. Work closely with DevOps teams to ensure proper integration and accessibility of analytics data.

    4. Feedback Loops:

      • Circle back to stakeholders and end users to demonstrate new UX improvements and gather feedback. Informal meetings with stakeholders and end users provide valuable insights and build goodwill. Beta programs offer an interactive platform for direct user feedback and collaboration.

Include End Users in Procurement Process:

  • Apply Grudin's law by including end users in the procurement process. Represent the needs and preferences of end users on the scorecard used to evaluate software purchases. While users may not provide detailed UX evaluations, their subjective views on usability and adoption are invaluable in decision-making.

  1. Demand-Side Solutions:

    • Purchasers can drive improvements by including real end users in the software purchasing decision. By ensuring that user needs and preferences are considered, companies can select solutions that prioritize usability and deliver value to the end user.

  2. Supply-Side Solutions:

    • Software vendors must invest in building strong UX teams and providing support throughout the organization. An incremental approach to UX improvements, backed by customer research, can alleviate management concerns and drive meaningful change over time.

  3. Resources and Communities:

    • Resources such as conferences like Enterprise UX and blogs focused on B2B design provide actionable insights and best practices for improving UX in enterprise software. These resources offer guidance on designing for complex B2B environments and driving UX innovation.

  4. Emergence of Disruptive Startups:

    • Startups are disrupting incumbent players in the B2B space by offering sleek UIs and streamlined services. Companies like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Salesforce are setting new standards for UX, reducing friction in tasks such as job applications and sales processes.

  5. Commitment to UX by Established Players:

    • Established companies like Salesforce and Oracle are making significant commitments to improving UX internally. Initiatives such as Salesforce's Einstein AI platform demonstrate a dedication to innovation and user-centric design, driving positive change in the industry.

  6. Changing Software Procurement Mechanisms:

    • The rise of software that blurs the lines between B2C and B2B, allowing users to directly purchase and use software without procurement involvement, is reshaping the B2B software landscape. This user-driven approach to software selection prioritizes user experience and drives improvements across the ecosystem.

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+971 553617623


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Copyright by MAKREATE IT Services Co LLC 2024