Why is B2B Software So Ugly?
Ever wondered why B2B software often lacks visual appeal? We posed this question to 12 industry leaders and experts to uncover the reasons behind the seemingly unattractive design of B2B software. From difficulties stemming from continuous development to the influence of development teams on design, these professionals shed light on the factors that contribute to the “ugly” appearance of B2B software.
- Continuous Development Challenges
- Functionality Over Aesthetics
- Prioritizing Development Over Design
- Business Priorities Affecting Design
- High Expenses Limit Aesthetics
- Industry Dynamics and Competition
- Aesthetics in the Sales Process
- Problem-Solving Over Visual Appeal
- Needing to Convince Only One Person
- Corporate Greed and Aesthetic Incompetence
- Function Over Form and Resistance to Change
- Development Team’s Influence on Design
Continuous Development Challenges
Most B2B software on the market today is in continuous development. While this means they become better functionally and visually, it presents many challenges to developers who want to make them more appealing.
It becomes difficult to alter the appearance of the B2B software without affecting its underlying structure and user experience. The overall effect is that many B2B software companies resign to fate and leave their products as they are.
Liam Liu, Co-founder and CMO, ParcelPanel
Functionality Over Aesthetics
Outward beauty doesn’t always mean that there’s anything worthwhile inside. So thought software developers as well. A program is required to be effective, powerful, and easy to use. Of course, it rather depends on one particular software. But in general, user experience and neat appearance don’t take top priority at all.
What is more important is the functional component that includes a wide range of tools. But it should be noted that these features must show outstanding performance and efficiency.
In fact, B2B software is not so ugly; however, it looks more complicated and piled up with different tools that could confuse you at first. We have developed a series of training videos for our clients. Moreover, our support service is always ready to help. Thanks to this, our audience does not have problems using the product.
We advise you to work out introductory steps to make a client’s immersion into the process comfortable and smooth.
Daria Erina, Managing Director, Linked Helper
Prioritizing Development Over Design
B2B companies want to jump straight to development, pushing out an MVP as soon as possible. Instead of spending 70% of their time on design and ideation and the remaining 30% on development, they flip that ratio and invest as little time as possible in UX.
I get it. It’s hard to spend money for weeks or months and still have wireframes. And it feels like an easy fix to put developers straight to work on a product. But a successful, beautiful piece of B2B software starts with a multidisciplinary team prepared to solve a real problem by improving processes—before a developer writes a single line of code.
Vlad Dzhidzhiyeshvili, CEO, Ventive
Business Priorities Affecting Design
As someone who has co-founded successful companies like Wunderlist (sold to Microsoft in 2014) and Ottonova (raised 120m+) as Head of Design, I have also noticed this as a common trend in the B2B software industry: many tools are visually unappealing and have poor user experience (UI/UX).
B2B software often lacks good design because business people or programmers prioritize functionality over aesthetics and user experience and may not want to invest in world-class UI/UX design. However, the industry is changing as more companies recognize the importance of design in driving business success.
Sebastian Scheerer, Founder and CEO, Superfounder.io
High Expenses Limit Aesthetics
Because of the high expense of creating B2B software, some businesses will sacrifice aesthetics in favor of utility. In addition, companies’ budgets and labor force constraints may mean they employ only a small design team if any at all.
It’s crucial to stress that this is merely a confounding variable, and that not all B2B apps are inherently unattractive. Yet, in order to meet commercial goals, limit costs, and produce software that adheres to particular standards, some firms might make concessions.
Vincent Zhu, CEO, ACS Locks
Industry Dynamics and Competition
A few major players largely controlled the B2B software industry, resulting in reduced competition and innovation compared to other technology areas. This lack of competition often leads to a one-size-fits-all approach that prioritizes functionality over aesthetics, leaving users feeling frustrated and unsatisfied.
Additionally, many B2B software solutions are designed for specific niche markets with limited demand, which may make it difficult to justify investing resources into improving the software’s visual design.
Dilruba Erkan, Consultant, Morse Decoder
Aesthetics in the Sales Process
Outside of self-service SaaS, the vast majority of prospects won’t even see the platform until they are committed to the process.
With transactional and especially enterprise sales, discovery calls, scoping calls, and introductory meetings are rarely technical, focusing on identifying the prospect’s pain points. By the time the prospect is ready to see the platform, good sales professionals keep the conversation focused on those pain points, with aesthetics representing a mere afterthought.
Consequently, an ugly UI is almost never a deal-breaker in moderate-to-high-ticket SaaS sales processes, as committed prospects simply won’t make that a priority. It makes logical sense, therefore, to focus one’s technical efforts on functionality rather than appearance, allowing SaaS providers to actually solve their clients’ problems.
Ben Hamilton, Operations Director, Test Partnership
Problem-Solving Over Visual Appeal
As an industry leader in Information Technology, I have noticed that B2B software often lacks the aesthetic appeal of consumer software. This is because B2B software is designed to solve specific business problems, and aesthetics take a backseat to functionality.
We understand that B2B software must address complex workflows and business processes, and its design is often driven by the needs of users, rather than by aesthetics. However, we believe in balancing functionality and aesthetics. We use innovative tools and technologies to ensure that our solutions remain ahead in a quickly changing digital landscape.
In conclusion, B2B software may not always be aesthetically pleasing, but it solves specific business problems. We strive to create software that meets the needs of our clients and their users, while also providing a visually appealing experience.
Vikas Kaushik, CEO, TechAhead
Needing to Convince One Person
The major difference between B2B software and B2C is that in B2B you really only need to convince the person holding the budget that it works and will do what it says on the tin—the looks are extremely far down the priority list.
They then buy a few hundred licenses for the org and that’s that. In B2C, by contrast, you have to convince each person every time to make the purchase individually, so you’re going to want to go out of your way to make it as appealing as possible. That’s largely what it comes down to – B2B is ugly because it doesn’t need to be pretty.
Dragos Badea, CEO, Yarooms
Corporate Greed and Aesthetic Incompetence
Haha, great question, let’s make an attempt to answer your provocation. B2B software is often criticized for being ugly and hard to use. But why? Why must we all suffer through these terrible user experiences day in and day out? The answer lies in a combination of corporate greed and aesthetic incompetence.
Obviously, businesses are more interested in making money than creating beautiful products for their users to enjoy. At its core, ugliness in B2B applications isn’t necessarily a bad thing; these applications provide users with powerful tools that enable them to maximize efficiency without sacrificing security or stability—something many consumer-focused products struggle to do effectively because of their focus on aesthetics over substance.
It’s true there could be more effort put into making these interfaces visually appealing, but ultimately businesses need reliable tools they can count on day after day—no matter what kind of look they may have at first glance!
Alister Wood, Owner, VisitUs
Function Over Form and Resistance to Change
I’ll preface this answer by saying a lot of business software these days looks great. A lot of it doesn’t.
I think there are two reasons that B2B software tends to be ugly or not updated as often as its B2C counterparts.
- The function is more important than form when it comes to business users. While a pretty interface would be nice, that’s not why the software was purchased. This is especially true with software that targets enterprise customers. The people buying the software aren’t always the same people using it, and there are many other considerations such as security, SLAs, SSO, etc. When all these are thrown into the mix, being pretty takes a back seat.
- Resistance to change. A lot of B2B software that we know, love (and secretly hate) has been around for a long time and has a large user base of long-term customers. They’ve mastered the interface and have come to terms with it. Sudden updates won’t go over well. It’s a compromise the B2B tech companies make.
Daniel Ndukwu, CMO and Co-founder, DoxFlowy
Development Team’s Influence on Design
They called it the sunflower. It was a computer monitor adorned with yellow Post-it notes covering the entire perimeter of the screen. Each one contained vital information that would be entered into the system later that day.
The system was so hard to use, call center staff couldn’t enter information into it while they were on the call. It was ugly too. A user interface that looked like it was born in the 80s, and it probably was.
Not all B2B software is ugly, but when it is, it is generally because the interface and experience are owned by the development team. A design process doesn’t really exist.
Users “have” to use it. They have no choice, so why make it pretty? The typical measures of user abandonment, attrition, and engagement don’t really apply when you have a captive audience.
The interface is an outcome of development, not a carefully crafted experience that enhances the performance of the software, as it should.
Paul Blunden, Founder and CEO, UX247 Ltd