User Experience and Visual Design of Enterprise Software

Enterprise software and good user experience are almost an oxymoron. Even the enterprise software that initially had a coherent user interface and clean visual appearance eventually gets inconsistent and crammed with options. But most enterprise software doesn't even bother at the conception to care much about people using it on a daily basis. It is case studies, reference implementations, and business connections that sell enterprise software to senior and middle management, not ease of use and pleasing appearance as experienced by the end users. Enterprise software vendors therefore have little incentive to care about user experience and visual design of their software. If enterprise software vendors decide to care about end users it is almost exclusively due to reducing implementation and support costs. Introducing a product in an (usually hostile) organization is much easier if a product at least pretends to be friendly to its actual users. And if features are implemented in a coherent and logical way, the end users are much more likely to be able to use the product without requiring support from software vendor. But the fact most often lost on designers of enterprise products is that adding a new feature needed to close a deal will always take precedence over ease of use or coherent user interface. With many deals that need to be closed, the end result will always be the same overloaded and ugly product regardless how much we all wish for enterprise software to become something which is not sore to the eye and frustrating to use.