An enterprise UX reading list

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Heading out to Enterprise UX 2015? Or just wondering what exactly are the kinds of issues and challenges that “enterprise UX designers” face routinely? Below is our compilation of recent articles and essays that will give you a good start at understanding the enterprise UX landscape. Want to add more? Please post your suggestions as comments below.

Kai Brunner: Is DevOps driving the future of UX design?

Wired—January, 2015

Alan Cooper, the Father of Visual Basic, had the full attention of the entire class during his “Design Leadership” workshop. In the calm reassuring tone of a wise patriarch he said, “Design is not so much a design issue as a power struggle.” 

(full article) 

Marty Cagan: Product vs IT mindset

Silicon Valley Product Group—October, 2014

The role of the product organization is to consistently deliver significant new value to the business through continuous product innovation.  At a startup, the product team either innovates and provides real value or the startup dies. In this article I want to talk about some of the deep reasons why innovation is stifled at so many established companies.

(full article) 

Rana Chakrabarti: Scaling design thinking

Medium—February, 2015

How should a company go about scaling design thinking ? So you’re trying to implement design thinking inside your organisation, you’ve run a bunch of workshops and are wondering what to do next ?

(full article)

Kevin Conroy: Why can’t Enterprises get user experience right?

CMS Wire—October, 2014

A leading analyst recently said to me, “If enterprises cared about the user experience, SAP and Oracle might not still be in business.” Not to pick on those vendors — they produce technologies that drive value in the enterprise — but it’s no secret that the enterprise has lagged far behind the consumer world in terms of the user experience (UX).

(full article)

Patrick Deuley: What I’m struggling with: Designing Enterprise software interfaces sucks as much as building them does

Medium—May, 2014

I’m a designer on an internal tools team, where I’m currently trying to unify the look and feel of a large set of different internal applications, developed by entirely different teams

(full article)

Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon: Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change

Simon & Schuster—Febuary, 2014

Great strategic conversations generate breakthrough insights by combining the best ideas of people with different backgrounds and perspectives. In this book, two experts “crack the code” on what it takes to design creative, collaborative problem-solving sessions that soar rather than sink.

(more on book) 

Uday Gajendar: Why I design Enterprise UX, and you should too!

Medium—January, 2015

It’s not “sexy” but who says it can’t be? Complexity and ambiguity can offer valuable moments for inspiring beautiful novelty in enterprise UX.

(full article) 

Maria Giudice and Christopher Ireland: Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design

New Riders—September, 2013

Just as we took our cues from MBAs and the military in casting the ideal CEO of the 20th century, we can look to design – in its broadest form – to model our future leader, the DEO. These leaders possess characteristics, behaviors and mindsets that allow them to excel in unpredictable, fast-moving and value-charged conditions. They are catalysts for transformation and agents of change. A hybrid of strategic business executive and creative problem-solver, the DEO is willing to take on anything as an object of design and looks at ALL problems as design challenges.

(more on book) 

Andrii Glushko: Vice-president of user experience? 

Business Standard—October, 2014

Greater product variety and shorter product life-cycles have put the onus on design, which goes a long way in determining what we buy and what we are prepared to pay for them.

(full article) 

Nathan Graves: Let’s bridge the gap between Enterprise and Consumer apps

UX Magazine—January, 2015

As we continue doing business in the midst of the digital economy, mobile apps are becoming critical tools for companies seeking to mobilize and optimize key business processes.

(full article) 

Jon Kolko: Dysfunctional products come from dysfunctional organizations 

Harvard Business Review—January, 2015

Producing great products isn’t just about creativity and execution. It’s also about organizational alignment. Let me tell you a quick story…

(full article)

Jon Kolko: Making Enterprise software people actually love

Harvard Business Review—February, 2015

There is a big, important change happening in digital product design. For a long time, there has been a clear split between business software (often called Enterprise or B2B), and consumer software (B2C, or simply “products”). That split is increasingly irrelevant.

(full article)

Jordan Koschei: UX for the Enterprise

A List Apart—November, 2014

Imagine this scenario. You’re hired to design a product that has a guaranteed audience of 50,000 users, right out of the gate. Your clients have a dedicated support staff with a completely predictable technology stack. Best of all, your work directly improves the quality of your users’ lives.

 (full article)

Roger Lee: Why every Enterprise startup needs a killer UX team

Forbes—June, 2014

Today, if your enterprise app isn’t beautiful, simple, elegant, and easy-to-use from day one, your company has little hope of becoming a billion-dollar business. Design is everything.

(full article)

Amanda Linden: Why designing for enterprise vs. consumer products isn’t as different as you think

asana: Workstyle—February, 2015

…as someone who’s designed applications for enterprise companies, as well as small business and consumer products, I’ve come to believe that the distinction between designing for consumer and enterprise applications has rapidly narrowed over the last several years, and today the distinction barely exists at all.

(full article) 

John Maeda: The distinction between designing for Enterprise vs Consumer customers

LinkedIn—February, 2015

A set of terms that I had thought I understood from the get-go — “enterprise” customer and “consumer” customer — have been a constantly moving target in my mind.

(full article) 

Dave Malouf: Why I design for the Enterprise and why you should, too

Medium—May, 2014

Few of our community focus on the underbelly of systems. The arenas of infrastructure and enterprise don’t seem to excite the average designer despite it’s tremendous impact in the world. We do however complain ad nauseum.

 (full article)

Amy Marquez: In Defense of In-house Designers

UX Booth—February, 2013

If you’ve attended some of the major user experience design conferences over the past few years, you may have noticed a pattern: many presentations are geared toward (and given by) agency designers or freelancers. The same can be said of the design articles written: most concern themselves with newly built sites, site-wide redesigns or storefronts rather than the maintenance of large, established websites.

(full article) 

Mick McGee: Is there room for sexy in Enterprise design?

UX Magazine—July, 2014

Eight years ago, while working at SAP, I overheard someone say our products needed to be “sexier.” I remember cringing.

(full article) 

Roderick Morris: Why consumers run the enterprise

Medium—April, 2015

…new consumerized yet enterprise-focused entrants are changing expectations of what is possible in B2B through simpler architecture, cheaper development options for getting started, and growth strategies built around end-users and viral growth.

(full article)

DJ Patil & Karen Cross: Designing for the Enterprise

Accel blog—April, 2014

Enterprise software has some a long way even in just the past five years from a usability perspective and this is because great product and design teams are thinking about the end user with more empathy.

(full article)

Steve Portigal: QuickPanel: Insight at Scale

UX Magazine—March, 2015

Big data is extremely seductive to decision-makers because it adds to their perception of self as an “objective” and “data driven” leader. In actual fact, people exhibit a tremendous amount of confirmation bias, only seeing or emphasizing data that supports their existing beliefs, and this may happen completely subconsciously.

(full article)

Brian Prentice: Breaking Through the Enterprise-UX Disconnect

Gartner Blog Network—January, 2014

Let’s face it. Enterprise software is the land that UX design forgot. Whether it’s an internal enterprise application development team, or the R&D department of an enterprise software vendor, the practices commonly found in UX design agencies the world over are poorly understood and rarely implemented.

 (full article)

Jon Reed: How do we solve the Enterprise UX skills gap?

Diginomica—June, 2014

The enterprise UX designer is still a bit of a unicorn. The ‘team skills’ approach works better, but for every company that’s figured it out, plenty more need guidance.

 (full article)

Jon Reed: Is Lean UX Relevant to the Enterprise?

Diginomica—January, 2015

Lean UX is a different way of approaching UX design. But can it address Enterprise UX dilemmas? 

(full article)

Leisa Reichelt: Help Joy help you. On the unusability of internal systems

Disambiguity—July, 2014

This is Joy’s notebook.At the airport earlier today I had to switch my ticket from one flight to another. Joy was the customer service person who helped me do this.

(full article)

Marc Scibelli: The Next UX Revolution: Transforming stodgy Enterprise applications into engaging experiences

UX Magazine—August, 2014

Three clicks instead of ten. Two steps instead of five. White space. Intuitive icons. Drag and drop. As consumer UX underwent a renaissance over the last decade, enterprise software stagnated with a design sensibility from the dial-up era.

(full article)

Kendra Shimmell: QuickPanel: Craft amid Complexity

UX Magazine—April, 2015

You can’t successfully design a complex system; as far as I’ve seen, the best approach is to do a really good job designing simple systems that can be platforms where the right kind of complex behaviors can emerge.

(full article)

Teresa Torres: Why you can (and should) experiment when building Enterprise products

Product Talk—January, 2015

Every time I speak about hypothesis testing, I get a series of questions about how to run experiments from people working on enterprise products.

(full article)


  1. This just came in my feed today:

    What I find interesting about it is that it is an early tell of trends in Enterprise.
    If we see how road blocks to adoption both in technology engagement and in costs are dropping in more and more areas of the Enterprise, this article just paints a picture of “The future is now, it is just not evening distributed.” — William Gibson

    But I do think there will always be parts of the organization that the user is not interested in and cannot adopt, deploy and distribute many technologies we are engaged in.

    Also, this doesn’t acknowledge that the same person is making decisions in the context of their enterprise and will be aware of issues in terms of deployment that they don’t think of when in a personal consumption context.

    But still, the article by Asana is still a good one for many Enterprise contexts.

  2. One of the best books on the new skills of leadership for organizations is Maria Giudice’s and Christopher Ireland’s Rise of the DEO. It’s great information, easily skimable, and has great resources when you find a section you want to drill down on.

  3. Another must-read book for anybody working with others is Lisa Solomon’s and Chris Ertel’s Moments of Impact. Most of what we do involves meetings and conversations and it’s rare to find such a fresh, thoughtful approach to improving them.

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  5. Updated! Now 27 items. But not Rob Gillham’s–Rob, your URL didn’t come through. Please repost?

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