Top 10 Design Guidelines for Integrating Web 2.0 in Enterprise Apps

There are lots of vendors and tools now available to support Enterprise 2.0. But the complexity of enterprise applications, concerns about security, and the expectations of enterprise users (and their managers), dictate that collaborative and social networking tools need to be tailored for the enterprise environment. For example, typical enterprise users are acutely aware of the corporate hierarchy, and the UI should provide cues to inform and encourage them to collaborate with colleagues in a different department. Based on the findings of our own research, we will present ten design principles for integrating Web 2.0 technologies into enterprise applications.

  • Dustin Beltramo, Architect, User Experience, Oracle Corporation
  • Michal Kopec, Interaction Designer, Oracle

My Notes:

Colleagues conducted research activities with a total of 40 end-users and collected their thoughts and opinions about Web 2.0 features.

The typical enterprise 2.0 user:

  • Uses a computer daily
  • Uses the web daily
  • Novice with Web 2.0 features
  • May not have access to popular social networking sites from work
  • Relies heavily on training
  • Motivated by professionalism, not personal interest

Enterprise Context

  • Performance-based evaluation
  • Curiosity and exploration not necessarily rewarded
  • Data security and privacy are emphasized
  • Users fear errors, data loss
  • Complex pages. – Page density is high and pages are often confusing, require training
  • Each user is part of a business process – Maintain the status quo

The Enterprise 2.0 User Mindset

  • Task-oriented – Wants to work efficiently
  • Wants tools that don’t get in the way of their job
  • Hesitant to veer from routine for fear of data loss
  • No motivation for exploration, innovation
  • Performs tasks according to training
  • “I adapt to the system” vs. “The software adapts to me”

The Big “Ah Ha!”

  • Demographics of Web 2.0 user are not generalizable to Enterprise 2.0.
  • UI designs must cater to the unique characteristics and motivations of the enterprise user

The Guidelines:

1. Do No Harm. Minimize disruptions to existing workflow. Make sure you do not mess with time sensitive processes

2. Stay in the Zone. Embed tools in existing workflow, near business object. Put the subscription button near the content. Think about the supermarket checkout.

3. Location, Location, Location – Screen Real Estate is Precious (so is a user’s attention span). Use progressive disclosure. Expose things in a secondary layer as they progress down the task.

4. Keep it Relevant. Provide access to relevant content, not just tools. Instead of just linking to relevant information, embed it on the page and expose when needed.

5. Two Sides of the Same Coin. Provide bi-directional navigation between mainline tasks and Web 2.0 spaces. If the space is in another location, make sure you can move back and forth easily. Expose whether there are comments. Do not make the user have to go to the other space to see if there are comments. If you are commenting, you should be able to see the content you are commenting on.

6. Climb the Corporate Ladder. Leverage existing corporate structures. Grouping information around the structure makes sense and associate content with groups. (People are more likely to value content from their team. The speakers may have been saying to reinforce the corporate hierarchy. I do not agree with that. I think associating content with a group is useful metadata, but you need to avoid the balkanization of information along artificial corporate hierarchy.)

7. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors. Encourage the creation and discovery of ad hoc groups. There are things and times that you cannot share information. If you give them a safe place to collaborate with a small group, they can build until they are ready to disclose. Lots of people are not comfortable being fully transparent. Ad hoc is very important so that it easy to create a relevant space.

8. Keep it Simple. People will use tools that are easy to adopt and enhance. (Training is just another barrier to adoption!)

9. Support Voyeurism. Make it easy for users to see what each other is doing, and to reach out and touch each other. Authorship adds value. Make it easy to discover expertise and information about each other. People are sensitive about personal information

10. Look for the Duct Tape. Look at things that are broken or things are not working. Look at abuses of the current system to help see what problems are there.

There was much discussion about user customization and personalization. Users should be able to structure and make the experience more useful for them. But you need to make easy to support and inevitable upgrades not messing with things and creating more duct tape.

There approach was recognizing that small groups with permeable walls. People are afraid of looking like idiots. Being part of a group helps learning. (I find that interactions among peers is more common and more open. Junior people share and talk with each other much more than with senior people. Partners in The Firm share with other partners more widely than with junior attorneys.)

Tags are more likely to be used to find your own stuff, and not the social nature of it. (Of course the value of tagging is to organize my information in a way that make sense to me. One of the most popular tags in Flickr is “me.” That is useless to search on. Unless I am searching my subset of pictures. Then “me” is relevant to me.

Oracle is looking to the consumer web because that is where they see the innovation coming from.

Leave a Reply