Designing for the Enterprise

No... Not that Enterprise

No... Not that Enterprise

In the past 3 and half years at LinkedIn, I had the incredible opportunity to work with some amazing teams on both enterprise and consumer side of the business.

When I engage in conversations with people, I often highlight this part of my LinkedIn experience, Proudly speaking to the fact I've designed for both enterprise customers, as well as our members on the consumer side. Yet until recently, I never dug deeper into what this actually meant. I usually breeze over by saying on the enterprise side, you designed for people's 9-5s. On consumer products, your designs are constantly fighting for users' time in the minutes if not seconds.

As I've been thinking deeper about my design approach, which I've traditionally taken for granted, I realized there's a deeper difference between two.

One thing I like to do at beginning of every project is to dig into the problem. Continuously peeling the onion until I reach the center most pieces. As I've found, this is the only way to make sure you are solving the right problem in the first place. Usually when you get to that point, you're really looking at the problem from the perspective of a basic human need, or instinct. And the solution usually involves something that appeals to those basic human emotions.

And I've always thought this stood true for consumer products and services. On the other hand, I thought that enterprise design has less of the appeal to a basic human need or emotion, its more about getting the job done, in a more efficient, convenient manner.

When designing for the enterprise, at least on the surface, you are always creating a means to an end. On Sales Navigator, we created a tool that supported and engaged sales professionals to adopt the social selling process. On advertising platform, we built an easy to use experience that made sense of all the numbers and data. These pro tools allowed users to get their job done easier and better, but did not directly appeal to their basic human need, say, when compared the need of knowing what your friends are up to (at all times). 

Yet until recently, I realized I've been wrong all along. I have missed a whole group of key stakeholders for enterprise design all this time. Besides the people who actually use these tools to get their job done one way or another, a VERY important stakeholder for all enterprise products are the people being targeted as the result of these tools, whether its the folks seeing the ads on your platform, or the leads being tracked by your sales tool.

For these people, their response is a direct measurement of the success of your enterprise product. Did the lead respond to a reach out? Did the ad get extra clicks and engagement? The enterprise tool you are designing for should be the facilitator of downstream engagement, from the people these tools are targeting.

That, at end of the day, is the difference (or sameness) of designing for enterprise VS consumer.