All around us are complex, intricate interfaces. Think about multi-page insurance forms, enterprise tables and long-winded dashboards with filters, search and inline editing. Getting them right is challenging, and extremely time-consuming. So how do designers all around the world manage to design better products? After all, if something is complex by its nature, it doesn’t have to appear complicated.
We need to find a way to hide complexity behind sensible options and help customers navigate the space in a more predictable way. That’s the task of Enterprise UX. In this newsletter issue, we look at just that. Some examples of how complex products can be made intuitive, with a few patterns and tools to use along the way.
If you’d like to dive deeper into the topic, we have just announced a Designing for Complex UIs workshop coming up next year, in which we dive deep into complex forms, enterprise-grade tables, complex filtering, spreadsheets and dashboards. And while on it, you might want to look at Smart Interface Design Patterns, our upcoming video course and live UX training that will go live in January 2022. You can watch an intro + free lesson (20 mins).
For now though, let’s dive into Enterprise UX — happy reading!
1. The Rise of Enterprise UX
Enterprise UX goes far beyond the software that helps people do their jobs, it’s everywhere: In a company’s culture and workplace design, in IT, HR, in corporate strategy, and internal communication. As Federico Francioni describes it, Enterprise UX is the “design of a holistic working experience” that “empowers employees in being successful and developing a genuine sense of belonging towards the organization they work for”.
In the design-ERS podcast, Federico dives deeper into what this means in practice, how the pandemic has accelerated Enterprise UX, and why you should consider it for your career. Interesting insights into overcoming the traditional idea of a 9-to-5 job where employees are willing to do everything to keep their jobs in favor of an inclusive, fluid workplace where everyone feels valued. (cm)
2. Practical Tips For Better Dashboards
A dashboard offers an at-a-glance preview of the most critical information and an easy way to navigate directly to various areas of the application. However, while businesses dream about a simple dashboard, they are quite challenging to build. Having worked on enterprise projects for years and having designed countless dashboards, Taras Bakusevych knows from his own experience that every new dashboard is a new challenge.
To help you build better dashboard designs, Taras summarized a list of practical suggestions that you can follow along to build better dashboards — no matter if it’s the first dashboard you’re building or if you’re a seasoned designer. The list includes 10 steps with everything from defining the purpose of the dashboard and choosing the right representation for the data to defining the structure and flow and working with multiple widgets. Handy! (cm)
3. Getting Complex Data Tables Right
With vast amounts of data, user-configurable UIs, complex workflows, and automated tasks, enterprise software can be a challenge to build. No wonder that some enterprise applications don’t offer the best experience and end up looking a bit dull. But, of course, we can do better. James Jacobs shows how to tackle one of the enterprise UI design elements that often causes headaches: tables.
In his article, James explores how we can improve the experience of complex tables and what we need to consider when doing so. His guide covers everything from making a basic table responsive to adding pagination, lazy loading, search and sorting features, and a data summary to help improve usability. James also shares valuable tips for accommodating to the fact that you might not know what data will populate the table if it is defined by the user. A fantastic reference guide.
If you want to dive in even deeper into the topic, Stéphanie Walter put together a list of essential resources and blog posts that will help you design complex tables with a lot of data and interactions. It covers table design basics and specific table patterns just like designing data tables for enterprise apps and how to fit tables with a lot of content in any screen size. (cm)
4. Upcoming Front-End & UX Workshops
You might have heard it: we run online workshops around front-end and design, be it accessibility, performance, navigation, or landing pages. In fact, we have a couple of workshops coming up soon, and we thought that, you know, you might want to join in as well.
As always, here’s an overview of our upcoming workshops:
- Accessible Front-End Patterns Masterclass Dev
with Carie Fisher. Jan 20 – Feb 3
- New Adventures In Front-End, 2022 Edition Dev
with Vitaly Friedman. Feb 3–17
- Front-End Testing Masterclass Dev
with Gleb Bahmutov. Feb 8–16
- Jump to all online workshops →
5. Enterprise UX Patterns Analyzed
When you’re designing enterprise applications, you’ll come across some other UI design elements that can be equally challenging as tables and dashboards. For their UX Pattern Analysis series, Fanny Vassilatos and Ceara Crawshaw break down five of these enterprise-specific UX patterns to help you and your team integrate them in your solutions: enterprise filtering, interactive states, loading feedback, and, of course, data dashboards and data tables.
Each breakdown identifies what to consider when you start to build these patterns, what they concretely consist of, why they work, and the various ways you can leverage them to best serve your users. Very detailed rundowns with lots of practical examples. (cm)
6. Naming APIs With The Cloze Test
If you ever learned a foreign language, you probably remember those exercises in your workbook where you had to fill in the gaps in a paragraph. They are officially called cloze tests, and, as it turns out, they are a fantastic technique to naming new features in your platform or product. María Barrena shares some interesting insights into how she and her team utilize cloze tests to find out what users would call a new functionality based on the capabilities it offers.
You don’t need to be a highly-skilled researcher to conduct a cloze test. As María points out, if you’re a developer building their own API and have good writing skills, you can easily run the experiment. She summarized three steps you can follow to create your own test as well as tips for conducting it. A great technique to find a meaningful resource name that works for everyone. (cm)
That’s All, Folks!
Thank you so much for reading and for your support in helping us keep the web dev and design community strong with our newsletter. See you next time!
This newsletter issue was written and edited by Cosima Mielke (cm), Vitaly Friedman (vf) and Iris Lješnjanin (il).
- Design & UI Inspiration
- All Things UX
- Lovely Little Website Gems
- Inclusive Design and Accessibility
- UX Writing and Microcopy
- Inclusive Design
- Figma Tools and Workflow
- UX Workflow
Looking for older issues? Drop us an email and we’ll happily share them with you. Would be quite a hassle searching and clicking through them here anyway.