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  • Maria Sierpinski

Engineer the Experience

In today’s world, there is a lot of interdependence between technology and design. To create awareness about this, Extentia’s Design Studio held a series of sessions – ‘Engineer the Experience’. Rather than aspiring to make designers out of project managers and developers, the focus was on user experience – how do we with combined forces deliver well-designed technology to our end users? By bringing the Design Studio together with management, developers, and QAs, we created a forum where both sides could meet each other’s worlds.

The greatest beneficiary of a combined and integrated ‘design-technology’ solution is the end user!

When perspectives collide discussions often contain both differing standpoints and new learnings, making it a mutual win forum.

A useful analogy for understanding the close interconnectedness of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) is to picture the end user as a person looking to build a house. Here UI will play the role of an architect, talking to the client to find out about his needs – how large is his family and who are they? Does he want a multi-storey house or a ground floor apartment? By asking these and other questions, an architect can design a suitable house for a family complete with insulation, electricity, and plumbing. UI creates the blueprint for the new house, much like the developers create the architecture of a client solution. But does this mean that the house is ready for the new owners to live in and enjoy? In the most minimalist sense, yes, but how does one live without furniture, painted walls, adjusted lighting, and familiar objects? It is definitely possible but will not provide a particularly comfortable living experience.

UX is here – the interior decorator that gently guides the end user to a peaceful and harmonious living experience in a new home. By designing with the end user in mind, the technology can reach its potential. It, therefore, becomes a well built and beautifully designed home that fulfills the client’s needs in a pleasurable way.

The chosen name for the sessions, ‘Engineer the Experience’ highlights this interconnectedness and encourages close ties between design and technology all along the process. To communicate and keep the combined UX and UI thinking from start to end ensures that we engineer an experience that fulfills its potential. By keeping the design team involved in all stages of the project we decrease the risk of building solutions that later on need changes and readjustments from a UX perspective. Close communication throughout all stages lessens the dependency on the final Design Review whose main objective is to focus on details, pixel perfection, and small adjustments to be made. The Design Review is not the right platform for a new design direction or for any major changes. These are issues that can and should be solved during the previous process steps.

Another eye-opening experience for the participants of ‘Engineer the Experience’ was finding out about what different types of designers the studio has access to. Just as programmers have their own technical competencies, so do designers. By involving the Design Studio in all project phases you are ensuring that your project gets allocated the right designer with the correct competencies. This is just as crucial as getting the right competencies for your programmer. A programmer working on a platform he/she is not familiar with will not be able to build an optimal house, just as a designer working with a technology they are not familiar with, will not be able to arrange for interior decorating as per the clients living requirements.

We hope to continue with the ‘Engineer the Experience’ sessions to include more groups within Extentia. We can all benefit from including a user experience perspective early on in order to deliver confidence to our customers!

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