Nice looking, lightweight applications

Lately I’ve been discussing the visual elements of web 2.0 and how they map to my expectations for enterprise 2.0 applications.

Personally I’m more inclined to use a tool which is visually appealing/inspiring. Look around at the top web 2.0 sites, they are all pleasing to the eye. Whether they go full out for maximum design, or keep things simple, all the sites/services I use look neat. Is that a shallow requirement for personal adoption?

The current set of enterprise applications I use mostly depress me. They might do great things, but I hate the interface. I know I’m not alone in this view, but I also know lots of people who would disagree with me. For example the other day someone asked why on earth anyone would want to customize how their internal blog looked. Well, maybe they want to feel inspired, assert their individuality, be different or maybe they just like pretty colors….? I don’t know, but some people prefer to use stuff that looks cool. Whereas some people will live with a boring interface in favor of masses of functionality.

This got me thinking, would a simple interface overhaul be enough to satisfy me when using current enterprise applications? Nope, because the navigation also depresses me in it’s complexity due to there being too many functions available. So what to do? It feels like what I really want is neat looking tools, with limited but appropriate and powerful functionality. Just like BaseCamp. In fact Simon suggested we ask the BaseCamp crew to look at a classic enterprise application for them to give their recommendations on what they would do if tasked with making it ‘2.0’.

So is this what we will start seeing? Or are we already seeing it? Enterprise grade applications that play nicely with others, offer great but limited functionality and are intuitive to the point of fool proof.

So where does that leave the functionality left out or stripped away from the original enterprise version? Maybe there was never the need for it in the first place, or maybe it just gets rolled into another best in class application….certainly something to think about.

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