B2B vs. B2C UX – 3 Key Differences

ksd. blog | B2B vs. B2C UX – 3 Key Differences

When you’re in the trenches with a digital B2B experience and a digital B2C experience, you’ll find there’s little difference in how you approach things at the user level. The end goals are the same: solve the user’s problems and help them accomplish their goals with as little effort as possible. All of the standard UX principles apply in both cases.

If you climb up to say, 10,000 feet, you’ll notice some key differences:

1) Purchase Time & Complexity
For a B2C customer, it’s all about emotion and convenience – quick access to evaluation and comparison information, along with ease at checkout, and a pleasurable experience throughout. Their time to purchase is often much shorter and simpler.

B2B purchases, on the other hand, are complex, risk averse beasts with multiple stages and decision-makers (“choosers”). Customers will research a purchase for weeks, months, or even years in advance. And need an experience that supports them throughout their process – blog posts, newsletters, webinars, PDF downloads, case studies, podcasts, you name it.

2) Chooser & Actual User
UX work is fairly manageable, straightforward and self-contained for B2C users, where buyer and user are one in the same.

In the B2B space however, chooser ≠ user. And it’s choosers and users, meaning you can expect your list of choosers to include supervisors, leadership, IT and procurement. And depending on your product, expand your definition of users to include assistants, implementors, researchers, builders, and other roles within an organization, spanning multiple personas, strategies and priorities.

3) User Testing
In most cases, you can literally walk up to a stranger and ask her to participate in a feedback loop for a B2C app. Whereas recruiting participants for B2B testing can be much harder, since B2B products can come with highly customized experiences for employees with highly specialized skillsets (who also happen to a hard time pulling themselves away from work). Not to mention the fact that you’ll need to recruit people who are not intimately involved with the project, and keep high ranking observers in a separate space in order to minimize discomfort during testing.

As you can see, the differences between B2B and B2C UX (at 10,000 feet) are significant. And you can get a sense for what B2B UX is and why the experiences of today’s B2B products pale in comparison to their B2C counterparts.

However, that is changing as more and more designers and builders are striving to make B2B apps as cool to use as B2C apps. And with the right forethought and planning, you too can achieve a B2C-like experience for your B2B product.

If you need help with that, just let us know.

Until next time,
K