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Empowering organizations to scale design with a user-centered approach.
Tale of a two-headed space monster
Uncertainty and Complexity are two powerful forces at play in today's ever changing business climate, orbiting one another ominously like two binary stars.

Uncertainty represents those forces beyond the control of the business—but threaten to disrupt it. Complexity refers to the businesses' ability—or rather lack of—to react to market conditions and strategic initiatives. It’s all the things you do when you don’t have to. And, more dangerously, it’s the things you don't do—but should.
For the businesses that can’t deal with either or both of these forces, the costs are high. How high? Gartner, an enterprise analytics firm, claims that every year businesses lose around 10% of their profits to complexity alone. And, not just money is at stake here. Together, these two factors are the leading cause of bringing down productivity, morale, and—if not addressed—the business itself. It is precisely the offer of helping to tame these dark forces of uncertainty and complexity that explains the appeal of digitalization for business leaders today.
The ever growing automation and digitalization of our businesses and lives can be exciting, frightening, and even anxiety inducing. Businesses, however, know that digitalization can help them improve processes, cut costs, and increase efficiency. On top of those benefits, the most alluring promise of digitalization to business leaders is to leverage the power of data and connectivity, and to come up with new insights about the future directions and steps for their businesses. The goals of most business leaders are simple: make business processes faster, easier, and cheaper, while creating products that their users will use and love. As a result, businesses around the world are embarking on this transformative journey. Business experts, IT specialists and other domain experts are busy overhauling their paper-based and otherwise scattershot processes and creating ever-new software products and streamlined processes.

However, this journey isn’t without its perils, and these businesses aren’t always equipped with the needed skills or knowledge. The problem is this: to develop products with design quality and user experience in mind, the ideal designer-developer ratio is 1:10 or better. For most businesses, it’s not uncommon to see a 1:1000 ratio at best. So lacking designers and design resources, business experts—project managers, product managers, business analysts, etcetera—end up with the responsibility for their products’ user interfaces. While experts in their domains, they’re novices in design-thinking and user-centered design processes, which leads to clunky and crude software.

Unsurprisingly, a majority of apps being created take a lot of time and resources, yet fail to resonate with their eventual users because of their inefficient functionalities and crude, unintuitive user interfaces. Forrester Research finds that in the enterprise world, 70% of apps that are deployed are not adopted because they are difficult to use. A far cry from the consumer-grade user experience that people have come to expect everywhere. And, then there is the hardest part of this digital transformation: altering the company culture and mindsets that allow every employee to think creatively and keep customer experience front and center.
SAP is turning the ship around, and helping its customers to turn their ship around.
SAP is uniquely positioned to address this dual challenge of quick improvement in product quality as well as instilling desired cultural values. SAP has gone through a decade-long journey itself to bring a user-centered, design-led approach to developing enterprise software.

Initially, SAP was one of the largest enterprise software makers in the world, but its software was infamous for its lousy user experience and less-than-appealing interfaces. Once SAP leadership realized the need for change, they not only hired hundreds of designers, but, more importantly, they took a head-first leap of faith in Design Thinking. SAP started training in Design Thinking approaches for business analysts, developers, and IT teams within the entire organization, and then empowered them to envision and deliver user-centered products. Build is the culmination of SAP’s accumulated knowledge and lessons learned on that journey.

During this journey and user research for Build, we learned that the ultimate aim of business experts is to help their end-users get value out of the business apps they create. Getting end-users to love an app or product can be tough without capturing their needs early on, and Build provides the right tools and resources to practice design thinking and create delightful outcomes. Build has essentially turned design thinking from an idea or a way of thinking, into a productized solution to help corporations practice design-led product development and create exactly those delightful and useful apps.
With Build, businesses can:
  • Create interactive prototypes of the app to bring product ideas to life
  • Get early feedback from end-users to make edits that mirror their needs
  • Generate real UI code automatically to jumpstart development
Here is a short video to give you a quick overview of Build.

Build includes a guided design process that leverages step-by-step, bite sized learning pieces, with relatable examples and templates. It offers a simple prototyping tool to either create a low-fidelity interactive prototype or make mock-ups with realistic sample data—without having to write a line of code. Build also enables users to share these prototypes with their colleagues and target users to collect informal feedback, collaborate, and conduct usability studies. Once the prototypes have been validated with end-users and are ready for development, Build generates high-quality and SAP system compliant code to jumpstart the development and implementation phases. Business experts not only get to create UIs that are in line with today’s best practices, they gracefully ease into the discipline of user-centered design.
Build transforms the way our
customers innovate.
—Sodales Solutions
An empathy and understanding of our customers’ struggles and needs became the foundation of all our product and design decisions. Many hundreds of hours of research and testing followed by rapid prototyping and iterative design have paved the way for a truly user-centered product. We learned that a lot of times the people who design business apps aren’t designers – they’re business people. They speak and think like business people, which makes them great at their jobs, but not so great at communicating their app ideas to management and developers, and even worse at designing for their users. So we created small, focused tools to generate personas and facilitate collaboration among project teams as well with end users. Users can manage the entire design journey within Build, and keep all the steps and decisions transparent to everyone with a tool called ‘Design-led Development’.

We found these users wanted to learn design fundamentals and right way of creating products, but their first priority still remained to get their work done. Large amounts of learning material on Design Thinking or developing products just wasn’t appealing to them. This key insight led us to establish the design principle of learning by doing. We introduced lightweight design method cards that allow users to learn concepts in small chunks along with concrete business examples. This bite size learning helps our users do a little and learn a little, and this key learning feature is our big differentiator. The best part? Our seamless integration of user-centered design principles gets anyone practicing design thinking before they even know it’s called design thinking.
The Key is Consistency

When a global and distributed team is working on a comprehensive toolset like BUILD, making sure that our product quality and personality stay consistent is an ongoing challenge. Build is comprised of 4 core tools that interact with each other at various steps along the design and prototyping process. It was essential that no matter when or where our users interact with our product, they get the same user experience, the same look and feel, the same tone of voice.

We met this challenge head on by building a comprehensive design library that houses all of the BUILD icons, color palettes and assets. We are putting the final touches on a UI kit that connects coded UI elements to the design artwork for quick implementation across BUILD functions and features. This puts an end to potential confusion between designer's expectations and development's needs.

By the time BUILD was built, it felt a little like the Big Bang. We created something out of nothing by igniting the power of design thinking into a productized solution that’s ever-expanding – and picking up speed all the time. Which brings us to how we branded BUILD.
BUILD’s Brand
As we took on the task of creating the new identity for BUILD, we saw an opportunity to go deep and get clear on our brand vision. We didn’t want to merely design a logo that we can place on our product and in marketing materials. Clearly defining our brand vision allowed us to get alignment on how we articulate who we are, while affecting how we are perceived and how we and others talk about BUILD. Ultimately we wanted to craft a brand story that resonated with our internal team and external customers and partners.

So, we got to work developing a strategy for BUILD’s brand, which was a pioneering and perhaps unique effort for any SAP product to date.
The Brief

We started by developing a solid brand strategy brief that clearly defined the goals and objectives of the project. This ensured that all stakeholders were aligned on 1). The scope of the project 2). Who and what BUILD is 3). Mission, Vision and Core Values 4). BUILD’s product position 5). Target audiences and competitive landscape 6). Business objectives.

Research & Discovery

In order to craft a brand story that communicated what and who BUILD is in a clear, consistent and understandable way, we needed to do our homework. Research and discovery was the critical first step for our branding process, allowing us to find out what BUILD meant to our team and key stakeholders. It also set a benchmark and ensured that our visual identity differed from competitors.

We did stakeholder research in the form of surveys, workshops and one-on-one interviews to find out more about perceptions of our brand and gain insights into the brand personality. We researched the industry itself, investigating the competitive landscape from a brand perspective, while studying successful logo designs and current trends. We then synthesized and visualized the results of our findings through word clouds, mood-boards and other collaborative brainstorming techniques.
Brainstorming, Sketching & Refinement

Next came an exhaustive exploration process of brainstorming ideas, sketching concepts, and iterating on logo concepts while defining typography and color palettes. In the end, we created a great logo that embodies the brand principles and personality we uncovered during the research and discovery phase. You can watch our big reveal here.

We did stakeholder research in the form of surveys, workshops and one-on-one interviews to find out more about perceptions of our brand and gain insights into the brand personality. We researched the industry itself, investigating the competitive landscape from a brand perspective, while studying successful logo designs and current trends. We then synthesized and visualized the results of our findings through word clouds, mood-boards and other collaborative brainstorming techniques.

Internal Brand Launch

Before we launched our brand internally, we developed a brand roll-out plan to introduce the new identity and brand principles to our team. We kicked it off with a Hollywood-style teaser campaign to build anticipation for the unveiling. We held special events at each of our sites globally to celebrate the launch. We cut cakes, drank inspiring beverages, and made sure everyone felt proud of our brand. But we didn’t stop there. We executed a holistic brand roll-out including branded presentation templates, posters, stickers and other supporting visual assets that both inspire and act as a guide to stay true to our brand and brand promise. You can learn more about BUILD’s brand here. And, if you want to read about the fun journey then check out our Medium post here.
Build empowers companies to scale design.
—Sam Yen, Chief Design Officer (CDO) of SAP
We were just getting started when BUILD became a UX Award finalist last year with the likes of airbnb and Facebook. Then like now, the dedication of our team shines in everything we do for BUILD—from the product design, branding and messaging to our tight collaboration around the globe. It’s nice to see our relentless focus on our users pay off when they say our product not only helps them with the work that they do, but inspires them every day. And we were over the moon when during our annual conference, SAP's founder and chairman announced to the world, "BUILD is my favorite SAP product." Well, it’s our favorite too.
(Build) is actually one of my favorite
new tools at SAP.
—Hasso Plattner, Co-Founder of SAP