Designing for Delight: Building Enterprise Applications with User-Centric Principles

The secrets to optimizing user journeys and creating delightful experiences that keep users coming back for more.

We spend a considerable amount of time engaging with applications like Instagram or Uber on a daily basis. What makes them so likable?

Optimizing the user experience by focusing on a primary user journey is key in consumer applications. By streamlining the journey to fulfill a specific action, like booking a cab or posting a photo, consumer apps create a seamless and efficient user experience that delights and retains users.

However, enterprise applications often struggle with low user adoption and satisfaction. Factors like complex user personas, prioritizing functionality over user experience, resistance to change, and lack of user-centric design investment contribute to this. To improve adoption and satisfaction, it's crucial to prioritize intuitive and efficient user experiences through user-centered design principles.

In this episode, Venkat Malladi, Co-Founder & CTO of Vymo, talks about the Vymo Way of building products. He speaks about how adopting a consumer mindset can lead to positive outcomes in enterprise applications and shares insights on the importance of optimizing user journeys, understanding user needs, and bringing different personas together.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the episode -

  • Consumer applications prioritize speed and efficiency to optimize the user journey for a specific action, such as booking a cab or posting a photo. This creates a delightful user experience.
  • The enterprise can learn from consumer applications by adopting a user-centric approach and optimizing hero user journeys. By identifying these journeys, enterprise applications can create efficient and delightful experiences for users.
  • In enterprise applications, it's important to surface clear explanations and justifications for actions, facilitate the gathering of necessary information, and ensure users understand what they need to do.
  • Bringing different personas together involves understanding their goals and designing interfaces that cater to their specific needs.
  • Engineering leaders should optimize applications based on user personas and their day-to-day goals, considering scalability, predictability, efficiency, and persona-specific optimizations

Building for the User

Roshan Cariappa: Welcome to the Vymo Way, where we curate insights on how we do things at Vymo in sales, product, marketing, engineering, and more. Today, we'll be discussing the Vymo Way of building products. We've adopted a consumer mindset to build an enterprise application that has had many positive spin-offs. Joining us to talk about this is Venkat Malladi. Why don't you introduce yourself to the audience?

Venkat Malladi: I'm Venkat Malladi, Co-Founder and CTO of Vymo. We started Vymo in 2013. Before that, I spent five years at Google, working on the mobile team and focusing on maps, location, and the development of Google's personal assistant. This sparked my interest in understanding user needs before they even express them. I wanted to start something up, but I wasn't sure what it would be. That's when my friend Yamini from college shared the idea of Vymo and how we could help large enterprises improve sales productivity. This allowed me to connect what Google was doing in the consumer space with the opportunities in the enterprise space. And that's how we got started.

Roshan: Having seen consumer applications at scale, what do you think consumer applications do really well?

Venkat: I believe the most important aspect is the focus on the hero journey. Take popular consumer applications like Uber, DoorDash, or Instagram. In each case, there is a specific action that the user wants to accomplish, such as booking a cab, ordering food, or posting a photo. These apps excel at optimizing the journey to fulfill that specific action. They prioritize speed and efficiency. For example, Uber aims to provide the quickest cab booking experience, while Instagram focuses on allowing users to upload the best possible photos. Consumer applications prioritize and optimize these hero journeys, which leads to a delightful user experience.

Roshan: How does the enterprise differ from the consumer world?

Venkat: In the context of the hero user journey, the primary difference for enterprise applications is that there are often multiple hero journeys. For example, in the sales domain, many steps are involved in a successful sale. Enterprise applications inherently have multiple user personas with different needs. It could be salespeople, managers, operations personnel, CEOs, or heads of sales. Unlike consumer applications that typically focus on solving for one user, enterprise applications have to consider multiple stakeholders.

Roshan: So, what can the enterprise world learn from the consumer world?

Venkat: The enterprise world can learn from the consumer world by adopting similar concepts. As mentioned earlier, it's important to identify and define the hero user journeys in the enterprise context. For example, in sales, you may have prospecting as one journey, closing a deal as another, or cross-selling/upselling as yet another. By precisely identifying these journeys, you can optimize and find the most efficient ways to achieve the desired outcomes. This user-centric approach can create a delightful experience in enterprise applications.

Roshan: Understanding context and helping users prioritize specific actions are crucial. What else can be done to assist users in the most delightful way?

Venkat: Exactly. In consumer applications like Uber, users know what they want to do and how to do it. In the case of enterprise applications, it's important to surface what users need to do and provide clear explanations and justifications for those actions. Users should know why they need to perform certain actions and how to execute them effectively. For example, in a sales context, users need to know what information they should gather about a product and what the customer needs to know. The application should facilitate this process by surfacing the necessary information.

Roshan: You mentioned the involvement of multiple stakeholders in an enterprise workflow. How do you bring all these personas together?

Venkat: Bringing different personas together involves identifying their goals and priorities. It's unlikely that the same user interface or goals will apply to all personas. For example, a financial advisor's most important goal might be identifying potential customers and determining what to sell, while a people manager's goal could be supporting and helping team members. By understanding these personas and their specific needs, you can design interfaces and experiences that cater to their requirements.

Roshan: What kind of impact have you observed by adopting a consumer mindset in the enterprise?

Venkat: There are several stages of impact. The initial stage is adoption, where users consistently and predictably use the application. The next stage is understanding the activities users perform and correlating them with outcomes. This allows you to assess the impact of specific activities on desired outcomes. Finally, the third stage involves leveraging these insights to improve performance. This could result in significant improvements, such as salespeople conducting more meetings or increasing conversion rates. Consistently achieving these impacts at scale within the organization is key.

Roshan: For engineering leaders looking to adopt a consumer mindset in the enterprise, what advice do you have?

Venkat: The most important advice for engineering leaders building enterprise applications is to understand the user personas and their day-to-day goals. Each persona may have different motivations and problems. By being aware of these personas and their needs, engineering leaders can optimize their applications accordingly. This includes considering scalability, predictability, efficiency, and persona-specific optimizations. Understanding the users and their problems is critical at every step of the process, just like in sales, product, and design

Roshan: Can you provide an example from Vymo's context to illustrate this approach?

Venkat: Certainly. At Vymo, we focus on optimizing the nudge available on the home screen once users open the app. For example, financial advisors have numerous tasks they could perform daily, such as following up with customers or generating new leads. Our goal is to provide the most relevant and precise nudges, allowing users to quickly and efficiently accomplish their goals. By optimizing the app in this way, we have observed that users spend about five minutes on the app during each visit, coming back multiple times a day. This demonstrates the effectiveness of our approach.

Roshan: Thank you for joining us, Venkat. This conversation has been truly insightful.