Anyone who has worked in a large company on a traditional enterprise application -- be it part of an ERP suite, standalone CRM, BI, accounting or HR software, or a production tool such as a content management system -- will know what a less-than-perfect user experience (UX) looks and feels like. Usually this is because the functional aspects of the workflow in question have been prioritised, with user interface design relegated to a bolted-on afterthought. Dissatisfied users, delivering lower productivity than they would if a high-quality UX had been factored into the development process from the outset. These days, you're as likely to encounter enterprise software as a browser-based SaaS application, or as a mobile app on a tablet or smartphone, as you are a traditional client-server application on a desktop PC or laptop. But even in the cloud/mobile world, the UX factor is vital for enterprise software: employees who routinely use all manner of consumer apps and services -- which live or die by the quality of the user experience -- are not going to stand for inferior interfaces just because they happen to be at work.
The mobile smartphone and cloud revolution changed employees' expectations about user experience. Essentially, consumer apps have spoiled them forever. As Rasmus Skjoldan of Magnolia put it in a recent article, "it dawned on everyone that it just wasn't humane to have great UX in your private life and nauseating mazes of software to fight against at work." The overriding mission of the burgeoning UX movement became making enterprise software as simple (and even potentially fun) as mobilized consumer apps, as well as cloud services. It's been several years now since this epic battle for enterprise simplicity began -- and we've only made halting progress, Skjoldan relates.
Kai Brunner is principal designer for continuous delivery enterprise software at Electric Cloud. Murphy's Law decrees: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." For any of us whose livelihood depends on our labor, things going wrong could mean: "Anything that can be automated, will be automated." Our labor or skill in exchange for pay has undoubtedly caused us to seek security in the notion that we'll be forever needed. And yet time has shown that our ingenuity for efficiency orchestrates our removal from all forms of repetitive tasks.
As most UX designers may tell you, there is no prescribed path to becoming a UX designer. Some designers may start with degrees in arts, others were trained in architecture school, while some even came from entirely different professions. Not a few designers have been broken into this field without any formal training, with a genuine empathy for others and the belief of making lives better through design. However, it's not easy to land an entry-level UX position, and many new-comers may get lost by the interchangeability of design terms, like UX and UI. So before diving deeper into starting a career in UX, let's take a quick look at the two different terms in below.