The Enterprise Usability Level

According to Jakob Nielsen in his article “Enterprise Usability“, the enterprise usability is part of three levels of usability:

  • Individual Users. When we have a single-user design for a website, software applications, and consumer devices, its means a single user interacts/operates with a user interface. Most of the applications are focus in this level, because it has the most direct impact on screen design.
  • Groups of Users. When, the design’s usability depends on more than one user’s ability. The applications aim to coordinate multiple users and it’s important whether the UI helps or hinders group efforts.
  • The enterprise. Applications/Systems impact the company over time, including issues in administration, installation, and maintenance. And “Total cost of ownership (TCO)” is often the most important usability metric in this level.

Is it possible that an Enterprise System/Application can achieve Quality in Use characteristics as Effectiveness, Efficiency, Satisfaction, Freedom from risk, Context coverage (ISO/IEC 25010:2011) ?  A common usability problem with in this kind of systems is the “complexity”.

A system can have high utility with a low usability, but have a high utility it’s not enough it can affect the employees’ productivity because the system is not easy to learn, easy to remember, efficiency to use and subjectively pleasing and we cannot forget “the resistance to change”.

In order to achieve the satisfaction in an Enterprise Level, we change our point of view to observe in-context behavior to determine how to fit the design to the organization’s needs.

Customer roundtables is a good method to study the collaborators that run the organization and know the weak points in a top level, not only the final users of the application, also the customers; it’s the opposite side to Individual Users Level. The objective is having a small group of sysadmins or managers discuss their own experiences with larger issues of the product’s use.

In the article “The User Experience of Enterprise Software Matters” by Paul J. Sherman his author argue two factors drive these kinds of outcomes:

  1. Enterprise software developers don’t pay sufficient attention to the specific wants and needs of their internal user groups.

  2. Enterprises don’t hold their vendors to high enough standards for application learnability, usability, and efficiency.

Vendors and engineers are not the user, most applications / systems are created without incorporating the perspectives of groups of real users.  The solution for this author is to use methods of user-centered design and usability testing in both sides. In Vendor to warrant the quality of their software products and the enterprise customer to assess the usability of software products and ensure the IT investments.

It’s a problem well identified for both authors, the usability problem in Enterprise Level.

When, I’ve worked in Enterprise Software Project, I’ve gotten two different points of view from users and managers. User has a well-knowledge about task and process according to daily need but, managers know about the protocols and processes. And the best way to deal with this kind of problem is Customer roundtables. We care the three levels; individual users, groups of users and the enterprise.

So far, I have not worked with a User-centered design as well as software vendor, or the User centered design of an enterprise customer.


The users and managers have different needs, when we have single-user design, the most important point of view is just the user but when we have an enterprise system; users and managers are important in the same measure. Because, the objective of a software system is “Help the group efforts not hinder”.

As Software Vendor in order to provide quality products or services is important that our products have high “Utility” and “Usability” at the same time using and employing all the methods to achieve our goals.

User-Centered Design as a part of the Software Team in Software vendors and enterprise customers, for vendor to warrant quality and customers to justify the investment.



  1. Enterprise Usability by Jakob Nielsen
  2. The User Experience of Enterprise Software Matters by Paul J. Sherman
  3. 7 Enterprise Usability Tips


  1. Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better!
    Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate!

    He continually kept talking about this. I’ll send this article to him.
    Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

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