The UI/UX of your B2B application : driver of your team's productivity

Spotify, Airbnb or Google... The ultimate references in terms of UX/UI design are often B2C interfaces. However, at BAM, a third of our design projects concern what we call business applications. By this I mean any web and/or mobile application designed in a B2B framework, in order to improve the productivity of its employees and/or its professional partners.

These projects, which are less sexy on paper, are in the end very often the most exciting because their impact is very concrete and rapid. For example, in 2022, the BAM teams designed a back office aimed at streamlining BPI's collaboration with its partners. After 6 months, the tool has already increased the average time it takes to process requests from 1 hour to only 15 minutes!

This effect is maximized by the fact that the starting point is often outdated software, to which numerous functional building blocks have been added gradually, without design logic. Indispensable in the daily life of their users, these solutions now deserve real UX/UI expertise.

So how do you design an effective and desirable business application to boost productivity within an organization? This article will give you the keys to launch your project, first from a UX point of view, then UI.

The UX challenge: understanding the business

A business application has the characteristic of being intrinsically linked to a specific sector of activity: in fact, no organization will design its own email box or text editor. The subjects are much more specific: to design a powerful tool, the designer will therefore start by immersing himself in the daily life of his users.

The crucial step: user research

To do this, nothing beats a user research phase. The methods may be different depending on the context: qualitative study, Go & See, shadowing, quantitative study.

Here you will find an article dedicated to choice of research method.

At BAM, we mainly use the qualitative method: it involves interviewing at least 5 of your potential users for about 45 minutes. The questions asked should be open and based on examples to avoid bias.

For example, we ask, “Can you tell me about the last time you entered an invoice into the system?” rather than “How do you usually enter an invoice into the system?”

Finally, the more the user is in his environment during the interview: at his workstation, with his computer devices, his software etc., the more information we can glean on the context. In particular: observe the screen during an action and take screenshots or even photos.

At the end of this user research, you can start the project in good conditions if the entire project team:

  • Has integrated the vocabulary of the profession concerned
  • Knows the context of your users: are they in an office, quiet and completely focused? Or on the contrary, interrupted all the time, unable to devote more than 5 minutes in a row to a task?
  • Invests in the creation of the User Journey

Prioritize your challenges through the User Journey

La User Journey is a visual diagram representing the entire user journey in a given framework: to perform a macro-task, on a business tool, or even throughout a day...). This is not an exercise specific to the design of a business application, but it is particularly useful in this context, to visually pose everything that the designer observed during the interviews.

To get started, start by listing all the tasks and sub-tasks performed by your users. Then arrange them in chronological order on a horizontal line.

On the line below, associate with these steps any difficulties you may have encountered. Finally, note the associated improvement opportunities below.

At BAM we always dedicate a workshop to the design of this User Journey. For our customers, this allows:

  • To better know their users and their business concerns
  • To prioritize the issues: What problems are the most common? Which opportunities are the most strategic?

One of the characteristics of business applications is that they are often complex tools, with a large number of functionalities and multiple uses.

From the start of the project, and throughout the design, prioritizing well is essential.

To do this, a constant exchange with users is necessary.

Iterate hand in hand with your users

The two steps mentioned above are very closely linked to the project launch phase, but in reality, as part of an immersion in a new environment, the designer continues to learn the profession throughout the design of the product.

To best meet user needs, we recommend applying this business logic throughout development. Concretely, this means involving users at each iteration.

Different levels of involvement are possible:

  • A common design with business representatives present at each workshop and at each validation point. Such involvement requires much longer design time but saves time on testing.
  • A design by designers, which is faster, but requires more extensive testing and often, heavy re-work.

Finally, concerning the tests, what seems to me to be particularly important in the context of a business application are the following points:

  • Be in person or in any case at most in real conditions
  • Build very concrete test protocols, with a scenario and real use cases
  • Pay a lot of attention to usability and handling.

You will see it at this stage of testing: the UI will play a considerable role in the adoption and understanding of the tool by users.

The UI challenge: boost productivity

When you think of old versions of Excel, or your company's intranet, you're unlikely to have the same emotions as when you think of your old iPod or your last reservation on Airbnb. However, the objectives of these last products are respectively:

  • To make you listen to music more simply
  • To find a great place to stay in a few minutes.

While UI is at the heart of performance, as highlighted by the law of usability, it has long been completely ignored in business applications, invisible to the general public. Today, it is a key factor in the success of your business project.

Be part of a familiar universe

On various specialized sites, it is easy to find dashboard and board templates. In general, these templates are not adapted to business applications: they are too universal to be suitable for such specific and complex software. The UX/UI designer therefore brings real added value in terms of personalization.

The first way to personalize your design is of course to use the graphic charter of your organization. Reinjecting visual coherence between all your platforms is of real interest in terms of brand image. This will reinforce the feeling of belonging of your employees who will recognize familiar codes.

This familiarity is key to allowing rapid adoption of your users. As we have seen, the UX phases allowed you to discover the daily life of the job, and in particular the professional vocabulary. All this must obviously serve the graphic universe that you are going to offer to your customer. The wording of the buttons and “call-to-action” must include specific words.

And this also extends to icons, which are very useful for reporting actions in a short way. Thus, when designing your design system (which we will see below), it is always useful to devote some time to building up a library of icons that speak to your users: for example a small hammer if you are designing a site for auctioneers!

Get inspired by market leaders

These business-specific references will help reassure your users. In addition to that, depending on their web and mobile uses, you will be able to draw the best interactions from their favorite tools.

For example, if your users use their email boxes a lot, all leaders (Google, Outlook and others) have a whole system of filters that can be very useful when designing a table. In addition, there are open source libraries that will allow you to easily replicate these behaviors.

In the same way, your B2C benches can be sources of inspiration: a calendar like Airbnb, a list like Spotify, a form like Leboncoin... These are all components and interactions that allow users to save a lot of time in using these tools, so why not use them in our business applications?

Anticipating future developments with a design system

Create a Design system has many advantages, including that of allowing consistency between all the pages of your tool, regardless of the designer or developer in charge of designing it.

For users, the impact of this uniqueness is to be able to learn much more quickly to use the tool and the new functionalities that can be added later.

Finally, since business applications are software that will evolve according to the needs of employees, creating this system design will allow you to ensure the scalability of your product over time.


Finally, most of the tips and steps developed in this article are part of the best practices in UX/UI design. All this process allows B2C giants to offer high-performance products that are fast and perfectly meet user needs. So why not apply them to your B2B application?

If you are considering redesigning or creating business tools, the UX/UI designer will be your major ally in allowing you to improve the overall experience of your employees.

Finally, the design approach, by encouraging co-design with users, will be a decisive lever to facilitate change management and the adoption of the tool at the time of its implementation!

Designer UX/UI ?

Rejoins nos équipes