Differences Between Website and Enterprise Software Design

In my last post, I described (SDL Web) product ideas and the user experience. I continue by contrasting design for website visitors versus for those that manage such websites and end with a thank you and invitation.

Disclaimer: these are my personal views, biased by a business analyst and CMS background and lots of love for my product and its community.

Design Alignment

The biggest difference between working with our customer's designers and SDL's UX team is the organizational alignment. As part of a given customer's digital experience ecosystem (read about being a Good Corporate player by Nuno Linhares) the CMS implementation is often downstream of Web design where the user experience design, wireframes, and even HTML often come before the CMS implementation. The goal of "happy customers" is the same, but the definition of customer isn't. Your persona is not my persona.

When Alignment Works

The best digital agencies and front-end designers understand content modeling and content strategy as they create great experiences for website visitors that the CMS and developers can implement and support. They think semantically, adopt approaches like BEM, and follow thought leaders like Gerry Mcgovern or A List Apart. They look holistically at website visitor goals to help solve real business and user problems.

The Pain of Misalignment

I haven't seen horrible designs in my projects, just the occasional design that didn't quite meet editor expectations that didn't account for long text, more/less content, and other changes to managed multilingual websites. Completely disregarding the existing content/data models and technical constraints means a website design isn't just a design, it's a proposal with new requirements and functionality. Often I've seen what Gerry McGovern would call "tiny tasks" creep into the design, to the dismay of the website builders and eventually users.

New requirements and functionality aren't bad on their own. It depends on what business problems you're trying to solve beyond "a shiny new website." This brings us to our own designers and UX team. When looking at our editorial and developer scenarios, we have to balance desired functionality with existing data models and constraints.

Web design is great when aligned, otherwise in a misaligned corporate Web development environment, you might see familiar elements of this amusing IT meme:
View post on imgur.com

Solving Business Problems

Though there's some overlap with typical website visitors, our users are corporate employees, contractors, and consultants that have built "business critical" systems with our software. Our disciplines each have their focus to support an innovative user experience. Philipp explains better with this slide:

Source: Building the UX Community at SDL

User Experience Community 

Though Product Management has plenty of product experience (a few decades worth combined), to continue to evolve the product lines we work with UX and Engineering to innovate in the intersection between people, business value, and technology.

With hundreds of Tridion-related blog posts and even more Tridion questions and answers, I'm fairly comfortable working in the open. If you haven't had the chance, give us feedback, share your ideas, or mention your open source project in the posts and sites below. Be sure to participate on SDL Community.
Oh and thank you. From my first posts on the old forum to an unexpected community award (awesome!) to the many times I was corrected learnt something new, you've helped me solve problems and better communicate solutions. It's been an amazing experience so far that incidentally turned into practical training for my new role.

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