Enterprise UX: Talk the talk

I’ve been working at Red Hat for one year now, and it has been an superb year. I’ve met and work alongside smart capable people and learn something new every week.

This week wasn’t different.

I started it frustrated because a product manager couldn’t understand the importance of a design change I wanted to implement. Annoyed with it I though to myself that they don’t know better and decided to forget about it, even though I was sure the change was necessary.

Probably anyone working on an enterprise environment confronts situations like this one every day, that’s why I asked Catherine for advice. And she sent this lines:

“I think this is the type of thing that brings you from a good designer to a great designer in an enterprise environment. You have to learn how to communicate your design wants with each of the the different stakeholders in the company in their terms.”

In a way it took me back to my freelancer days, when I was a one man show. Catherine is right, the enterprise environment is unique, and communication is key to achieve anything.

Communicate clearly

Last week Josephine twitted an excellent presentation about enterprise UX project by Erik von Stackelberg where he describe what enterprise applications are, why they are bad and how we can improve them. And of course he mentions the importance of having empathy and excellent communication skills.

You could argue that those are qualities any person working on an enterprise environment should have, but design is different is one very important way: It is almost impossible to mesure design.

A sales person can show sales numbers, a coder can show better performance, but a better user experience is something very hard to prove and the results are only shown in the long run.

Communicate in their terms

We all want the product we work on to succeed and it is my fault that the product manager didn’t understand the importance of the design change I wanted to implement.

I was unable to communicate the idea in his terms.

A great enterprise designer knows how to talk conversion rates to a marketing person, sells to a sale person, business goals to a product manager and performance to a developer, all in the name of giving the users a good experience.