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A Comprehensive Analysis of the Key Differences Between Consumer and Business Product Design

In recent years, the Internet has entered its second epoch, and the consumer-side traffic dividend has gradually waned. Many enterprises have pivoted towards business-side services, prompting a shift in the focus of product designers. Presently, an increasing number of consumer-side product designers are embarking on ventures into business-side services. Product design embodies a process of knowledge transference. One must grasp the nuances and distinctions between these two product categories to seamlessly adapt to this transition.

Today, amidst the pinnacle of Internet and informatization advancement, we all find ourselves as users of both business-side and consumer-side products, affording us personal insight into the caliber of these products. Thus, what novel revelations emerge when juxtaposing two entirely disparate product classifications? Today, I endeavor to delineate the disparities and merits of these two products through the lens of my own design journey.

The acronym “C” designates “Customer,” denoting products tailored for consumers, commonly referred to as users. Individual users or end users engage with these platforms. For instance: WeChat, NetEase News, NetEase Cloud Music, Youdao Translator, and NetEase Kaola, among others.

Conversely, the designation “B” represents “Business,” signifying products tailored for merchants, typically within an enterprise context. These encompass system software, tools, or platforms utilized by enterprises or merchants for operational or commercial purposes. Examples include: JD Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, NetEase Cloud, NetEase Youshu, or an enterprise’s internal ERP system.

Shared Tenets:

1. All products are intended for utilization by others.

From taxi-hailing, food delivery, and shopping applications to intricate enterprise-level business systems, even confounding product managers at times, whether catering to individual or enterprise users, these products are fundamentally intended for human use, albeit differing in their nature.

2. Striking a balance between user experience and commercial viability is imperative.

Given their user-centric nature, a delicate equilibrium between user experience and commercial viability must be maintained. Be it consumer-side or business-side, no one favors a cumbersome product that impedes efficiency. Admittedly, some products with subpar user experiences may persist due to monopolistic tendencies or situational compulsion, yet this does not discount the importance of user experience. It is merely more challenging to optimize within the context of business-side products, characterized by intricate operational frameworks and tailored for professional use.

3. Adherence to the fundamental principles of product design is paramount.

For every product designer, the question of “which methods should be employed to address specific issues for particular users in given scenarios?” resonates deeply. However, amidst the maelstrom of unforeseen challenges in the professional sphere, it is all too easy to overlook these principles. Much like a famished individual solely fixated on satiating hunger, losing sight of the essence amidst the chaos is a common pitfall.

Divergence:

Comprehensive Demystification of Product Attributes across Consumer-side and Business-side Domains:

1. Target Audience

Let us first elucidate the distinction between the user bases of consumer-side and business-side products, and the intended beneficiaries thereof.

Consumer-side:

These products cater to individual users, serving in contexts beyond the confines of the corporate realm, namely, everyday life scenarios. It necessitates the development of intricate user personas, encompassing factors such as age, occupation, education, income level, workplace, and personal predilections, all of which influence functional design. Every user possesses the prerogative to offer optimization suggestions, reflective solely of their individual perspectives rather than any collective social identity. However, provided these suggestions are vetted by the product manager and contribute towards enhancing product value, they may be incorporated into the iterative cycle.

Consumer-side products, in comparison to their business-side counterparts, boast a broader service spectrum, penetration, and ubiquity. This is attributable to their targeting of a wider demographic and addressing a multitude of prevalent needs through a core function. Any individual can transition into a consumer-side user at any given moment, with a plethora of products at their disposal. Accordingly, product teams prioritize strategies to prolong user engagement, fostering heightened user retention and activity levels. Leveraging unique features and offering high-quality experiences serve to captivate users, resolving their everyday conundrums whilst evoking emotional resonance through product design.

Business-side:

These products cater to enterprise users, encompassing organizations, businesses, teams, or entities engaged in commercial activities. While users are indeed individuals, their identity solely represents a specific role within the organizational hierarchy. Irrespective of gender, age, or geographic location, individuals assume homogeneous roles, such as project directors, managers, or consultants within an enterprise setting. Products must cater to such roles, rather than individual idiosyncrasies. For instance, while Zhang San and Li Si may both utilize a project management system, their personal preferences ought not to influence the system’s design. Functional design is predicated upon the organization’s business objectives and the role-specific assessment criteria for project managers. Given the homogeneity of user roles, functional design necessitates encompassing diverse business functions to address multifarious needs and scenarios. These users exhibit distinct professional attributes, employing the product solely within a professional context. Some users may be obligated to use these products, lacking personal agency, as their adoption is mandated by organizational leadership. Consequently, the user-product relationship within the business-side domain is more concentrated and hierarchical than its consumer-side counterpart. Design considerations entail striking a balance between the needs of payers and users, emphasizing product timeliness and alignment with established business objectives.

2. Usage Scenarios

Consumer-side:

Consumer-side products manifest in various life scenarios, characterized by a high degree of versatility. While encompassing work-related scenarios, they transcend conventional boundaries. For instance, one may peruse social media whilst commuting, indulge in music via NetEase Cloud before retiring for the night, or partake in food delivery during work breaks. Consequently, the usage scenarios for consumer-side products are fragmented, with users alternating between multiple applications at their discretion. Notably, users seldom engage with a single application for extended durations, instead seamlessly transitioning between various applications based on situational exigencies. This necessitates consumer-side products to prioritize direct operability, concise information dissemination, entertainment value, social interactivity, and emotional resonance. Rooted in the ethos of resolving everyday challenges and ingraining themselves in users’ emotional landscapes, consumer-side products strive to engender user loyalty and engagement through immersive experiences.

Business-side:

Conversely, business-side products cater to professional contexts, necessitating prolonged and immersive utilization. Usage frequency tends to be predictable, with users employing these products within prescribed parameters, devoid of personal preferences. Unlike consumer-side products, where users exercise discretion, business-side products are often mandated by organizational directives. Consequently, business-side products emphasize meticulous process design, adherence to real-world scenarios, risk mitigation, efficiency optimization, and data accuracy. Functionality is tailored to address work-centric challenges, integrating seamlessly within the corporate framework to augment operational efficacy.

3. Commercial Essence

Consumer-side:

Centered on Emotional Gratification.

Consumer-side products endeavor to satiate emotional needs, epitomized by social platforms designed to facilitate interpersonal communication. Whether through text, voice, images, or sharing functionalities, these platforms cater to an array of emotional realms encompassing camaraderie, self-expression, professional networking, and aspiration. In addition to core functionalities, supplementary “value-added features” are incorporated to enhance product utility and profitability.

Consumer-side products typically revolve around a singular core function, complemented by auxiliary features. While core functionalities dictate product features, positioning, and tonality, auxiliary features serve to augment product value and differentiation. Removal of these supplementary features may marginally impact user experience, yet fails to deter users from engaging with core functionalities. For instance, the removal of commenting features from a music app does not impede users’ ability to listen to music, underscoring the peripheral nature of these features. In essence, consumer-side products espouse a culture of “sharing,” epitomized by commenting and reward functionalities, which serve as conduits for interpersonal interaction and emotional gratification.

Profit Generation Strategies: Content monetization, advertising revenue, platform commissions, and value-added services (VIP memberships, coupons, access permissions, etc.).

Business-side:

Aligned with Collective Goal Attainment.

Business-side products are tailored to facilitate collaborative endeavors, wherein users must collaborate with peers to accomplish task objectives. The complexity of business logic, particularly pertaining to permission structures, necessitates collaborative utilization, wherein each user fulfills a distinct role within the operational framework. Given the variegated nature of business operations, product functionalities are modular and adaptable, catering to diverse business exigencies. Consequently, functional hierarchies are non-existent, with core functionalities disseminated across user roles without hierarchical delineation.

The quintessence of business-side products lies in addressing users’ professional requirements, a task unattainable through singular functionalities. Instead, a symbiotic amalgamation of multiple functions and nested application support is imperative. This ensures compatibility with diverse operational demands, thereby enhancing product utility and market competitiveness. For instance, while one product may offer a limited range of charting functionalities, another may proffer a versatile suite of charting options, thereby catering to a broader spectrum of business needs. In such scenarios, users gravitate towards products offering maximal versatility and adaptability.

Profit Generation Strategies: Modular payment structures, user-based subscription models, demand-based pricing, and post-implementation maintenance fees.

4. Product requirements

Exquisite elucidation of fundamental scientific principles! Thorough examination of product attributes on both the C-side and B-side.

C-terminal

To more adeptly cater to users’ daily requisites, the array of demands will be more variegated, as our aims encompass enticing new users, fostering activation, retention, transformation, and fission. Delving into competitive product analysis, data scrutiny, and user behavior analysis may all unearth invaluable requisites. Frequently, we download an application owing to our peers’ usage or an advertisement’s allure. However, we only revisit the application upon having a specific need. This need may be vacuous or mundane, such as a desire to shop, among others. Consequently, many ordinary users remain oblivious to their genuine needs. At times, they inadvertently launch an application, only to be ensnared by buyer showcases, promotional events, and other operational modules within, eventually cultivating a desire to make a purchase.

Hence, C-end products emanate from a divine vantage point. Demand stems directly from users’ actions and feedback, wherein the most authentic demands are gleaned. Product designers must heed market trends, attend to user predilections and feedback, convert efficacious analytical findings into product requisites, and subsequently manifest functions to engender resonance among users. Employing operational strategies to heighten the likelihood of conversion (realization) and fission expands the radiance of the product’s sphere.

B-side

B-end products are primarily grounded in extant “business” paradigms, transmuting traditional offline endeavors into online comportment through programming, systematization, and informatization, thereby enhancing business flow efficiency and reducing office overheads. Consequently, product designers are mandated to be adept in pertinent industry knowledge and comprehend business rationale.

Demand generally emanates from the product’s strategic positioning, interdepartmental linkages, and tenants’ individual requisites (customers, external remitters). To further refine responsibilities, companies profiting from enterprise software sales often designate frontline consultants to liaise with tenants, ascertain requisites, provide follow-up services, and subsequently relay requisites to the product manager overseeing the product. Said product manager assumes responsibility for requisition collection, analysis, planning, setting development priorities, and then delegates tasks to the development team for subsequent product design.

B-end product clientele may not necessarily operate online, but rather span companies nationwide. Often, customer contact occurs through superiors and sales personnel. This impedes the acquisition of genuine customer needs, a phenomenon I term the “demand gap.” Ergo, the optimal research methodology involves conducting “face-to-face” user interviews, be they physical encounters, video conferences, or telephonic communications. Such interactions facilitate the lucid articulation of requirements, unlike email or textual exchanges. Given that target users possess fixed professional domains, the processes you envisage as most logical may diverge significantly from their actual usage. Thus, interfacing directly with authentic users regarding their work habits and business protocols invariably aids product design.

Frequently, products are tailored to satisfy remitters’ needs (i.e., senior executives), rather than actual users (i.e., grassroots personnel). This engenders grievances among genuine users concerning the product’s poor usability, attributable to alterations in their work routines. Despite complaints, leaders achieve real-time data monitoring objectives. Consequently, requirement collection is influenced by the voices of two factions: remitters and genuine users, necessitating product designers to employ more judicious reasoning and processing methodologies.

5. Product thinking

Exquisite elucidation of fundamental scientific principles! Thorough examination of product attributes on both the C-side and B-side.

C-side – Traffic Ideation

When conceptualizing C-side products, traffic serves as our cardinal impetus. Traffic directly impacts monetization, whether through external traffic acquisition, link conversion, retention strategies, or enhancements in product experience, process optimization, and resource allocation. Our endeavors are all directed towards augmenting traffic and converting it. Varied activities, special features, data analyses, and the pursuit of emotive design all converge towards the fundamental objective of attracting and retaining traffic from across the digital expanse, thereby enhancing product conversion rates. This encapsulates the essence of C-side products; sans traffic, a product is but an ornamental vessel.

B-side – Efficiency Ideation

For B-side products, efficiency assumes primacy. Whether catering to external clientele or internal business roles/departments, B-side products invariably address the imperative of enhancing enterprise operational efficiency (i.e., workflow efficiency), thereby surmounting the bottleneck of “revenue augmentation and cost reduction.” Consequently, we endeavor to elevate human efficiency at each juncture, curtail costs across all facets, and fundamentally enhance enterprise efficiency through process optimization, tool refinement, and strategic realignment. This ethos is palpably evident in our process design endeavors, which are anchored in rationality and efficiency, enabling users to traverse processes with ease. It is imperative to acknowledge that despite monetary investments in data analytics software, the resultant data analysis may not match the accuracy and convenience of manual processing.

6. Design Principles

C-terminal

During the C-end product design phase, it is imperative to ascertain the core functions’ target users, delineating our initial design objectives. Maintaining product versatility and accentuating core functions is essential, given the prevalence of homogeneity among C-end products. Consequently, meticulous thought is warranted in devising strategies to distinguish our products amidst the plethora available, extending the product’s brand influence and identifying novel functional and experiential highlights.

Furthermore, adherence to sound operational practices is indispensable. Given C-side users’ capricious nature (low loyalty and propensity to switch products), certain operational methodologies must be employed to foster user retention. At the crux of C-end products lies a core function; thus, designers must comprehensively evaluate which function constitutes the product’s core and indispensable feature, and which functions serve as embellishments to augment the product’s value. Therefore, despite prioritizing these foundational principles, shaping user behavior remains imperative, akin to “capturing” users.

Seize pivotal moments: Identifying the critical junctures wherein users engage with C-end products is imperative. Users’ attention is unevenly distributed during product utilization. For instance, when confronted with an array of similar products, users typically trial 2 or 3 before entering a product, aimlessly perusing its contents, and subsequently deleting the application. This exemplifies a failure to seize pivotal user engagement opportunities, underscoring deficiencies in product strategy and intuitive comprehension. Did you not elucidate the product’s functionality initially? Its benefits? Its unique selling points? As a product interface designer, it behooves you to discern the salient nodes of user engagement, the scattered nodes, and devise strategies to redirect user focus accordingly.

Henceforth, through an examination of the pivotal junctures within the utilization process of these individuals, we may discern opportune moments to effectively mold user conduct. These designated “critical” intervals, elucidated by attention theory, epitomize the focal nexus of attentional engagement, reciprocally. As users engage with products, their attention oscillates incessantly from nucleus to periphery.

For instance, directing the interaction designer to implement a reading cue upon the information cascade page, to be enacted subsequent to the user’s refreshment of the news feed. The aim is to facilitate the user in locating their prior reading position pre-refresh, thus preempting redundant information display without compromising user experience. Which solution depicted below is, therefore, the most apt?

Exemplary elucidation of fundamental scientific principles! A comprehensive scrutiny of product attributes delineated across the C-side and B-side.

Central Nexus: The positioning and temporal deployment of the notification “Last viewed prior to refresh. Click to update” warrant meticulous consideration. Positioned antecedently to the antiquated message and posteriorly to the freshly refreshed one, it diverts the user’s reading focus from the recent to the erstwhile information flow, creating a lacuna of attention at the juncture. Consequently, cues manifested here are more discernible to users, thereby amplifying their utility. Ergo, Plan A emerges as the preeminent choice.

Peripheral Dispersal: In Plan B, the notification emerges post-refresh at the nadir. While this approach maintains a minimal intrusive footprint, owing to its subjugated placement, it contravenes the user’s browsing trajectory. The user’s conduct entails perusing the information cascade, rendering its appearance incongruent with the act of “browsing.” Moreover, albeit its perceptual efficacy and capacity for immediate user appreciation, its untimely deployment adversely affects user experience.

Augmented Enjoyment: The concept of “enjoyment” denotes the ability to evoke affirmative emotions in users, fostering sentiments of joy, fascination, inspiration, poignancy, and edification. This constituent proves pivotal in attracting and retaining user engagement.

Numerous avenues exist for enhancing product enjoyment. Consider WeChat H5, for instance:

With the advent of cutting-edge H5 page technologies and the meteoric rise of WeChat promotional initiatives, the domain of WeChat H5 promotion has become a crucible for prominent C-end products. Promotion formats may be diversified within the H5 framework, encompassing mini-games, referral-based incentives for monetary rewards, and miniature applications, among others. The salient advantage of WeChat H5 promotion lies in the seamless integration of promotional enjoyment within the product milieu, thereby operationalizing marketing methodologies throughout the user journey. The attendant benefits are manifest. By engendering a niche within the market via engaging gamified experiences, users are galvanized to propagate the promoted programs, driven by the allure of enjoyment.

In reference to motivational impetuses, the recent viral sensation “Anyone capable of entering *** is a prodigy” merits mention. This extensive canvas captivates audiences with its enthralling narrative, each segment resonating profoundly with viewers. Unbeknownst until the concluding paragraph, its status as an advertising gambit notwithstanding, its efficacy is manifest (garnering over 100,000 views within a scant few days). This ingenious stratagem facilely spurs user propagation, catalyzing virality throughout the digital domain, emblematic of C-end product operations geared toward traffic attraction and virality propagation.

Exemplary elucidation of fundamental scientific principles! A comprehensive scrutiny of product attributes delineated across the C-side and B-side.

Fostering Ingenuity: “Honor of Kings” stands as the quintessential online mobile gaming behemoth of recent years, boasting unparalleled audience reach, user engagement, and revenue generation. By deconstructing this paragon of gaming, we may ascertain the salience of creativity in propelling product success. What imbues this game with such enduring popularity that patrons while away afternoons ensconced in its virtual realms? I endeavor to scrutinize “Honor of Kings” through the prism of design, parsing the experiential tapestry it unfurls for its myriad players.

The trait of “ease of ingress” resonates ubiquitously amongst denizens of “Honor of Kings,” underscoring its intrinsic appeal. The game adopts a dual-joystick control schema (with control nodes situated at opposing extremities). Players manipulate avatars via virtual nodes flanking either periphery, supplemented by automated offensive maneuvers. Novice players default to automated attacks, thus ameliorating the learning curve and enhancing gameplay accessibility.

While not a pioneering innovation within “Honor of Kings,” the dual-joystick mechanism represents a paradigmatic interaction archetype, setting a benchmark for subsequent endeavors. Moreover, innovation is manifest in its approach to skill execution. Diverging from conventional PC gaming paradigms bereft of tactile peripherals, mobile platforms necessitate novel skill execution methodologies. “Honor of Kings” introduces a swipe-based skill cancellation mechanic, deftly circumventing inherent small-screen interaction impediments.

Exemplary elucidation of fundamental scientific principles! A comprehensive scrutiny of product attributes delineated across the C-side and B-side.

Beyond the aforementioned design precepts, an array of design methodologies augur well for C-end products, encompassing push notifications, contextual cues, modal prompts, embedded advertisements, and incentive structures. Regardless of the chosen design stratagem, the paramount objective invariably entails capturing user attention and effectuating behavioral mold through attentional engagement.

B-Side

Product designers possess a discernment of user exigencies, thus B-side products serve to augment user conduct. Consider, for instance, the development of an enterprise reimbursement system. Standardized procedures and operational workflows undergird these undertakings, obviating the need for extensive deliberation. Merely transposing these scenarios into structured designs suffices. The prevalence of these scenarios is readily discernible through discourse with pertinent user roles. Fixed in their nature, these scenarios necessitate scant contemplation regarding user preference, constituting a requisite of enterprise systems. Hence, the onus of design lies in comprehensive elucidation of functional requisites and process refinement. Design imperatives encompass rational functional delineation, methodical business process engineering, and aesthetically refined interface architecture.

Methodical Functional and Modular Segmentation: Product information architecture mandates meticulous attention to functional and modular demarcations, discerning commonly utilized functional nodes and their interrelationships. Customization may be necessitated to accommodate idiosyncratic client requisites. This customization is frequently encountered in B-side endeavors, necessitating tailored workflows to align with client specifications. Distinct user roles entail divergent access privileges, necessitating discrete interface manifestations. Design must accommodate varied permissions, intermeshing seamlessly to facilitate cooperative endeavors and workflow facilitation.

The Business Landscape of B-Side Products: B-end product landscapes are replete with intricacies. Paramount amongst these is the design of permission frameworks, predicated upon divergent user roles, hierarchies, and operational scenarios. Routine solutions are anathema to the nuanced exigencies of B-end engagements.

Rigorous Business Process Engineering: Unlike consumer-facing counterparts, B-end products eschew guided onboarding experiences, for they serve as functional tools within the professional milieu. Ergo, customers engage with intent, versed in the intricacies of their operational remits. Designers must possess acumen not only in the realm of design but also in the domain of industry and business, ensuring alignment with clients’ operational paradigms.

Uniform User Experience: This cardinal principle extends across both C-side and B-side domains, epitomizing a foundational tenet of internet product design. Consistency engenders familiarity and fosters intuitive comprehension, thus enhancing user engagement. Prompt resolution of user inquiries and provision of aid amid conundrums epitomize the hallmark of adept product design.

Streamlined Interface Aesthetics: Function supersedes form within the realm of B-end product design. Visual ostentation, while appealing, finds limited utility. Emphasis on content reigns supreme, with minimalistic design ethos ensuring clarity and functionality. B-end users, tasked with utilitarian objectives, eschew gratuitous design flourishes. Design endeavors, therefore, should prioritize performance optimization and process refinement.

As a practitioner of design, it behooves us to uphold the principles of functionality-centric design, wherein aesthetic serves function. This underpins the predilection for blue hues within the B-end product domain, ascribed to its neutral connotations and rational appeal, befitting the pragmatic ethos inherent to B-end products.

Extensive Popularization of Foundational Scientific Principles: An In-depth Examination of Product Attributes on the Consumer and Business Oriented Fronts

Central Focus

1. Human Nature as the Emphasis on the Consumer Front

Extensive Popularization of Foundational Scientific Principles: An In-depth Examination of Product Attributes on the Consumer and Business Oriented Fronts

Product Emphasis: Essential requisites, pain points, frequency, and experiential facets.

Essential Requisites

In the realm of business-oriented product design, we frequently encounter fundamental requisites. Users articulate their needs with remarkable clarity, sparing the necessity for extensive probing. They express, unequivocally, their desired functionalities and the seamless execution of task processes offline. Payment hinges on the availability of these functionalities, delineating a clear demarcation. However, it’s imperative to discern that what users articulate may not necessarily align with their underlying needs, necessitating thorough elucidation and validation.

And why the deliberate emphasis on ‘essential requisites’ for consumer-oriented products? The demand dynamics for consumer-oriented products diverge from those of business-oriented ones. Consumer base spans widely, exhibiting dispersal and a lack of organizational coherence, rendering their needs nebulous and necessitating deliberate exploration. Often, products purportedly cater to perceived consumer demands (conceived by the designer), which diverge starkly from actual consumer needs.

Pain Points

In business-oriented products, users possess ample time and opportunity for deliberation before making a product decision. Furthermore, pricing stands as a crucial reference point.

Conversely, within the consumer domain, users prioritize minimal switching costs (as seen in social products such as QQ and WeChat), with decision-making timelines being significantly truncated. Thus, swiftly identifying and addressing user pain points assumes critical importance within this context. Employing operational activities and emotionally resonant visual design becomes imperative in swiftly captivating users, fostering a surge in user engagement. Failure to grasp user pain points could result in poor product adoption. Even in instances of adoption, the frequency of usage might dwindle over time, eventually leading to its relegation to obscurity within the recesses of a user’s device. Maintaining competitiveness necessitates a proactive approach, often exemplified by consumer-oriented products employing enticing operational updates to lure users back, aiming to evoke a sense of longing and attachment.

Frequency

In business-oriented products, user engagement is dictated by operational demands and workload, offering limited opportunities for augmenting user engagement. Sending messages during holidays urging users to return to work for a promotion, for instance, would be incongruous and contradictory to the product’s intrinsic value proposition.

Conversely, within the consumer domain, metrics such as user stickiness, conversion rates, and activity levels are intricately linked to usage frequency. Many consumer-oriented products adopt a freemium model, monetizing through value-added services, such as VIP subscriptions offering enhanced privileges. Cultivating usage frequency by initially offering free access forms the bedrock for monetizing value-added services. Thus, high frequency and user engagement emerge as pivotal in realizing monetization opportunities.

Experience

Given the absence of organizational constraints and the minimal cost of switching products for consumer-oriented products, a mere gesture could result in their abandonment. Consequently, prioritizing user experience becomes paramount, aiming to foster user retention and integration of the product into their daily lives.

While user experience holds significance in business-oriented products, customers predominantly prioritize functionalities, processes, and efficiency. Picture yourself engaged in professional endeavors with software exhibiting sluggish response times and inaccurate data—a scenario bound to evoke frustration. In such instances, user experience takes a backseat to performance.

2. Organization and Business as the Focal Points on the Business Front

Extensive Popularization of Foundational Scientific Principles: An In-depth Examination of Product Attributes on the Consumer and Business Oriented Fronts

Core Product Appeal: Functionality, Process Efficiency.

Functionality

Unlike consumer-oriented products necessitating deep exploration of user needs, the requirements for business-oriented products are often unequivocal. In terms of functional breadth, they stand in stark contrast to consumer-oriented products, boasting extensive and comprehensive functionalities—an embodiment of their integrative prowess. The profusion of functionalities isn’t merely ornamental; rather, it aims to encompass diverse business scenarios, enhancing market competitiveness.

The perceived learning curve associated with multifarious functionalities isn’t a significant concern within the business realm. Business clientele often embrace professional development, viewing it as a means to augment their value proposition. Moreover, as mandated tools within corporate environments, businesses actively advocate their usage among employees. Additionally, developers of business-oriented products frequently provide tailored business training and post-sales support.

Nevertheless, for SAAS products (Business-to-Business), which tout implementation ease, comprehensive and intuitive functionalities are imperative. Designing SAAS products poses unique challenges, necessitating a delicate balance between business utility and user experience.

Process

Given the imperative of business informatization, business-oriented products invariably involve process design. These systems must seamlessly integrate with the operational workflows of enterprise users, presenting a formidable design challenge owing to the diverse processes across enterprises.

Often, business-oriented products transmute offline processes into online paradigms to facilitate paperless and agile operations. Consequently, the functional processes inherently mirror offline procedures, requiring streamlining and refinement for digital adaptation. Even the digitization of traditional paper documents necessitates fidelity to the original format to ensure continuity of use cases and mitigate learning curves. Hence, the emphasis on understanding business processes lies in the seamless transition of functional processes from offline to online realms.

Efficiency

Given the voluminous data involved in business operations, efficiency reigns supreme in business-oriented products. Customers engage with these products not for leisure but to fulfill work-related tasks. For instance, in data-intensive tasks like uploading large datasets, functional efficiency and performance assurances (such as batch uploads) eclipse interface optimization in significance.

Even today, some supermarkets persist with cashier systems developed on archaic DOS platforms. Despite their antiquated interface and poor user experience, their operational efficiency ensures their enduring relevance.

Product Features Comparison

Client vs. Patron

Entities or organizations utilizing B-side products. To be succinct, they are patrons who provide financial support. Typically, they are corporate entities procuring or leasing products developed by your company on behalf of their organization or department.

User

Individuals utilizing C-end products. These users encompass everyone not bound by professional contexts. They can register, log in, and directly engage with the product.

Clients exhibit rationality, whereas users evoke emotion. Clients prioritize ROI (Return on Investment), while users emphasize the experiential journey, addressing specific facets of human nature.

For instance: The Double Eleven event has essentially evolved into a national revelry, compelling many to engage in impulsive buying. Why? The allure of discounts entices a multitude, fostering a spontaneous purchasing spree.

However, the promotion of B-end products is seldom heard of. Firstly, corporate procurements typically follow a structured process, often necessitating diverse financial approvals. It’s improbable for a company to make purchases coinciding with your promotional efforts. Secondly, enterprise procurements hinge on ROI considerations, discount incentives alone don’t sway their decision-making. This is intertwined with both the enterprise’s interests and your own.

Conversely, individual users present a different dynamic. They may have items lingering in their virtual carts due to cost constraints. Yet, a sudden 50% discount during Double Eleven provides the impetus for impulsive buying. After all, missing out means waiting another year.

Clients vary in their hierarchies, whereas users are essentially homogeneous.

Enterprises encompass varying scales. A micro-enterprise with ten personnel differs from a small enterprise with a hundred employees. Similarly, a medium enterprise with a thousand staff members diverges from a large enterprise with ten thousand employees. To elaborate further, companies of varying sizes manifest distinct requirements for analogous products. Perhaps attributable to divergent management methodologies, some companies may articulate personalized needs.

For example, a ten-person enterprise operates within a single office space, facilitating easy discourse. Even a raised voice resonates across the premises, enabling impromptu meetings. Fresh air serves as the conduit for communication.

Conversely, in a hundred-person enterprise, shouting loses its efficacy. Not all individuals may be within earshot, and seating arrangements could be dispersed. Herein, a WeChat group fosters seamless communication. WeChat groups serve as the communication medium.

In a medium-sized enterprise with a thousand employees, numerous cross-departmental collaborations occur. Frequently, the intended recipient may remain unidentified, or deliberately unresponsive. Hence, enhancing communication efficiency assumes paramount importance. Features like “read receipts” and “unread message alerts” within platforms like “DingTalk” and “Business WeChat” gain traction. The read status serves as a gauge for responsiveness. Prolonged unread status warrants recourse to voice calls or phone searches. Consequently, such features resonate well within medium-sized enterprises.

For enterprises exceeding ten thousand personnel, the native functionalities of “DingTalk” and “Enterprise WeChat” might prove inadequate for intricate collaboration needs. They necessitate user-friendly functionalities. Consequently, such entities often develop bespoke features or outsource development to third parties, integrating them with platforms like “DingTalk” or “Enterprise WeChat.”

The aforementioned pertains to B-side products catering to clients of varied dimensions. Let us now delve into how C-side products cater to essentially homogeneous users.

Take WeChat as an exemplar once more. WeChat users span diverse socio-economic strata. However, concerning the human frailties assuaged by WeChat—be it idleness, voyeurism, vanity, a desire for social affirmation, avarice, impulsivity, conformity, or the urge to share—user distinctions diminish. Both a successful individual and a homeless person harbor frailties such as laziness and vanity, albeit in differing intensities. They share the inclination to “show off” via their respective social circles, albeit the content might vary. Ergo, as a C-end product, WeChat theoretically addresses the needs of all users. Granted, a negligible minority may eschew Moments and posting altogether. Yet, this marginal cohort warrants no consideration. Therefore, the needs of the remaining C-end product users find satisfaction, as their needs align despite divergent identities.

Tools vs. Amusements

Tools prioritize efficiency, while amusements prioritize leisure.

Efficiency encompasses performance and cost-effectiveness. It’s evident that enterprise competition fundamentally revolves around operational efficiency. Consequently, tools procured by enterprises (B-end products) must enhance operational efficiency. For instance, various management systems enhance customer relationship management efficiency, while database systems streamline recording and computational tasks. Comparative evaluation entails assessing performance vis-à-vis cost. Naturally, the most suitable option boasts optimal cost-effectiveness. To entice purchases, B-end products must underscore efficiency and affordability.

Conversely, amusements primarily aim at enjoyment and relaxation, encompassing user experience. Users derive pleasure, belongingness, and relaxation from such products during idle moments. The user experience pivots on captivating users, aligning with their human frailties. An experience catering to human frailties constitutes a superlative experience. Superlative experiences are encapsulated in “smart” products—products that captivate users, prompt contemplation, and epitomize cutting-edge user behavior. We aim to gratify users’ tendencies towards “idleness” and “reflection.” WeChat, a ubiquitous product, epitomizes exceptional user experience. Ease of use, catering even to the elderly, satiates the human tendency towards “idleness.” Moreover, supplementary functions cater to other frailties like “vanity” and “snooping,” amplifying the product’s allure. Amusement is the quintessence of attracting traffic. This epitomizes the pursuit of C-end products, as many hinge their business models on amassing a vast user base. Traffic equates to revenue.

The lifespan of tools surpasses that of amusements.

Compared to C-end products, B-end products boast lengthier lifecycles. Primarily, as operational tools, B-end products are inherently intricate. Their development necessitates extensive industry expertise and technological prowess. Consequently, upon gaining market acceptance, B-end products erect experiential and technological barriers. Moreover, procuring B-end products entails financial investment. Once an enterprise adopts a product and acclimatizes its workforce, the costs associated with replacing it with a new alternative are substantial. Hence, the inclination to switch diminishes.

Conversely, C-end products exist for amusement. When newer products offer heightened amusement, incumbent products face obsolescence. For instance, QQ and WeChat supplanted text messaging. Despite serving as communication tools, WeChat and QQ offer substantially greater amusement. Some may contend that the elimination of text messaging charges isn’t the decisive factor. Even if text messaging were entirely cost-free today, its usage would likely dwindle. WeChat facilitates multifaceted communication, incorporating text, emoticons, images, voice messages, videos, and financial transactions. Naturally, the latter supersedes the former. Similarly, as users gravitate towards newer, more captivating alternatives, even WeChat could encounter challenges. A comparison of Moments posts and subscription account content from three years ago to present illustrates this cyclical nature. Notably, even “ephemeral bullet text messages” undergo this cyclical evolution. All products exhibit cyclical trends, yet C-end products possess shorter lifecycles compared to their B-end counterparts.

Tools are intricate and challenging to utilize, while toys exhibit simplicity and ease of use.

It is widely acknowledged that B-end products embody complexity and usability challenges, whereas C-end products cater even to the elderly demographic. Why is this so? On one hand, B-end products serve as tools, intended for production rather than daily use. Employing tools often transcends human instinct, requiring acquired skills to fulfill specific purposes, hence necessitating training and education. Mastery is reserved for the adept few, hence the prevalence of pre-sales/after-sales support, user manuals, and professional training for many B-end products.

On the other hand, this dichotomy is underscored by the objectives of B-end products: efficiency, precision, and safety. When developmental efforts prioritize product performance, resources allocated to enhancing user experience inevitably diminish. The mantra of “function over form” holds true in this context.

In contrast, the prime directive of C-end products is user-friendliness and accessibility. Triumphing over competitors hinges upon superior user experience and ease of adoption. Any C-end product requiring a manual for operation risks obsolescence.

“Selling software” versus “showcasing software”

B-end products “sell software”

The rationale behind the business model of B-end products, dubbed “selling software,” stems from their nature of being transactional commodities. Essentially, B-end products are commercially exchanged commodities upon development. Hence, considerations regarding sales strategies commence from their inception. Some development teams even employ prototype demonstrations during client negotiations, ultimately clinching deals.

By and large, if a B-end product manages to amass hundreds of thousands of users, it’s considered a significant achievement. Unlike C-end products, which easily garner tens of millions, if not billions, of users, traffic-based monetization proves unfeasible for B-end products. Imagine the uproar amongst corporate users if sundry advertisements infiltrated an enterprise tool. Not only are such advertisements non-monetizable, but they also tarnish the product’s reputation. Conversely, enterprises are inclined to invest in cost-effective B-end products, thus fostering a vertical monetization business model.

C-end product “Show Software”

Typically, the business model of C-end products revolves around indirect monetization. By crafting products aligned with user needs, enhancing user experience, and tailoring content to suit specific demographics, user engagement is maximized. The product itself is offered for free, exemplified by Baidu, Alipay, WeChat, among others. Provided the user base is sufficiently vast, revenue generation through advertising and promotions serves as a viable business model. This approach capitalizes on the substantial user base, whereby ad-generated revenue becomes substantial. Moreover, it facilitates cross-promotion among affiliated applications, thus generating secondary traffic. For instance, accessing short videos via “Mobile Baidu” necessitates navigating through “National Short Videos” and “Haokan Videos.”

Transitioning from C to B: A Designer’s Perspective

Many designers experience a diminished sense of passion and creativity after transitioning from C-side to B-side product design. The dearth of opportunities to create visually captivating effects and trendy micro-interactions leads to ennui over time. Being immersed in visual forms and data visualization throughout the day breeds a sense of stagnation and existential doubt.

Consequently, designers find themselves bereft of the gratification derived from their craft. Failure to reassess one’s identity, adapt one’s mindset, and devise a structured workflow can lead to professional stagnation. This isn’t to imply that designers are ill-suited for B-end product development but rather that career choices should be aligned with individual aspirations.

Upon transitioning from C-side to B-side, I’ve identified the following compelling facets of B-end product design:

1. Increased Complexity

Compared to C-end products, B-end products entail intricate scenarios, functionalities, business processes, and information architectures, often encountering diverse contingencies. Certain specialized industries mandate specific background prerequisites, necessitating proficiency in various interactive products. The inherent complexity of B-end products renders their design inherently challenging.

In contemporary times, C-end products across various industries have achieved maturity, resulting in rampant product homogeneity. Designers often find themselves emulating established products to meet leadership and managerial expectations. Conversely, the B-side market is still in a nascent stage, offering fertile ground for innovation. Despite the scarcity of competing products, intense competition prevails, compelling designers to conduct independent user research, devise innovative design strategies, and validate hypotheses. For UI and interaction designers, navigating complex business scenarios fosters the development of analytical design practices, laying a robust foundation for future endeavors in UI/UX design or product management.

2. Elevated Design Value

As previously mentioned, C-end products are largely saturated, leaving limited room for groundbreaking innovations. With product excellence already established, avenues for substantial innovation are constrained, relegating designers to effecting incremental improvements. In this milieu, the value of designers is circumscribed, often relegating them to mere executors within internet companies. Developers may perceive designers as mere drafters of visuals, devoid of strategic input.

3. Comprehensive Industry Engagement

B-end designers delve deeper into industry intricacies and business dynamics, extending beyond superficial framework and presentation layers. Each feature’s design necessitates a nuanced comprehension of its role within the broader industry ecosystem, its impact on other business facets, and its strategic positioning. A profound understanding of industry dynamics augments designers’ capacity to leverage industry dividends effectively.

The aforementioned insights reflect my personal observations. The choice between C-side and B-side product design hinges upon individual interests and career aspirations. Visual-centric designers may find their creative latitude constrained within the B-end domain. Conversely, those inclined towards interactive design may discover the simplicity of C-end logic after navigating the complexities of B-end product design. Ultimately, the decision should be predicated on personal predilections and suitability, rather than succumbing to prevailing trends. Survival and success within the B-end domain hinge upon individual resilience and adaptability.

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