We Got an Engineer

If you’re a technologist then you can’t help but critique and/or criticize any new technology or piece of software that you encounter.

In fact, you don’t have to be a technologist to have an opinion about technology and the apps that you use every single day. The ubiquity of software products has made everyone an “expert” in some way, shape, or form.

via Dilbert

via Dilbert

Well… that might be too generous, but, the fact is that software builders today have a much different challenge today than what they would have had just a few years ago.

The user experience of the software (and the resulting design aesthetic) has to be just as good (if not sometimes better) than the actual function of the app.

This has required, among many other things, that software engineers begin to understand and learn and then execute against best design practices. And I know many of my peers have taken classes here and there on design principles and UX.

We are all designers now… or rather, we have to build software with the design aesthetic in-mind. I think this leaves us with two choices:

  1. As an engineer / software developer you can fight incredibly hard to have the most simple design aesthetic imaginable making any user interface so intuitive (i.e. zero UI perhaps?) that it’s impossible to be confused…
  2. Or get a real designer, UI/UX expert on the team as soon as you possibly can to fill in the necessary gap that you may not naturally possess.

I’ve been building apps for long enough to know that I can “get away” with a lot of stuff, using “best practice” design principles and different toolkits to essentially fake my way to mediocre design success.

But, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to do it well and it’s entirely outside of my reach to do it masterfully. I need a real designer at every step of the way to provide the nuance-y but critical feedback to get a product off the ground successfully.

And, on the flip-side of things, we need more design engineers in a way, designers who get engineering at their core and who can think holistically about their design with software engineering principles in mind.

These things are rapidly converging and the outcause is obvious: Your product either looks great (the first reaction from a potential user has to be amazing) and receives attention and gets used or it gets passed over on the (digital) shelf.

I am more comfortable than ever to say that I need more help than I can possibly imagine in the design department. There is no shame in my game anymore – yep, you’ve got an engineer here.