people@eggheads – A Day in the Job of UX and UI Designer Marcel
Who are the people behind eggheads? Smart, crazy, and one-of-a-kind masterminds introduce themselves.
UX and UI Designer Marcel Henkhaus talks about his daily work life and experience as a Product Manager, inviting us to look behind the scenes of eggheads.
My Home is My Office
Shortly before 7 o’clock, my alarm clock goes off. First things first, I’ll make some green tea to wake up. If anything, coffee diluted with milk is the only coffee I know – anything else isn’t really my cup of tea. Or coffee, for that matter. Today, I’m working in home office. We at eggheads support 100% mobile working, so it’s entirely up to me to decide from where I do my work. For my job in particular, this doesn’t pose any problems whatsoever.
Morning Routine in Product Management
I, Marcel, am User Experience and User Interface Designer. As such, I’m part of the Product Management of eggheads. Our Product Management is concerned with the continuous improvement of our software. From all sorts of channels, we receive wishes for new functions which are to be integrated into the software or are intended as an improvement of existing functions. It’s up to us to evaluate whether suggested functions or extensions can, indeed, make a meaningful contribution to the concept of our software. After drinking my tea and eating my buns, it’s time to open my computer. The document with suggested extension for our Web Client is still open. Based on many conversations, we’ve compiled a list with new functions which we, the Product Management, had to prioritize.
Which functions are so essential that they’re required to be developed before all other features? This is also a topic that occupies our minds. Yet, with our compiled list ready to hand, we can now move on to the specification proper – this is the part of my work on which my main focus lies: UX and UI.
UI, UX, U Know?
User Experience describes the intuitions users have when putting software to use. How does the software feel? Is it supposed to be as light and straight-to-the-point as possible, or does it require a rich set of functions in order to really help the users in their day-to-day routines? If so, is the software still easy to understand or can we somehow help the user when things get complicated? Additionally, there are, of course, also hedonic demands to be considered, such as the aesthetics of the software. I also have to account for that. However, UX isn’t only concerned with the immediate use of the software. The cosmos surrounding our software is also defined by UX. This might also include the simple things, like our integrated online help.
User Interface Design Straight from the Rainbow Office
The UI area of my work is the actual design. For the prototyping of a new function, I’ve Sketch opened on my Mac as we speak, fiercely dragging buttons from left to right. Since UI also means to put thought into user guidance. Is it intuitive that the button is placed right here and only here? Wouldn’t the user expect it to be over there? Does the button really need to occupy this central spot to begin with? After all, it’s competing with all these other buttons I’m looking at right now. Sometimes, it’s better to prioritize “covert” over “overt.” Not least because we don’t want to bombard the user with visual data. My first ideas on such matters are usually sketched out the old-school way, using pen and paper. Accordingly, the term “Rainbow Office” isn’t quite apt. Rather than drawing with fancy colored pencils, my first drafts are usually minimalistic black-and-with sketches.
Communication is Gold
Almost noon, I’ve already had phone calls with half the company. In my field, you’re not allowed to be afraid of being in contact with other people.
Communication is a key factor, but that’s also what makes it this interesting. I get my intel from many areas and fields. Here, a bug is causing trouble; over there, it’s discussed how our software can be integrated into existing processes in an even smoother manner. At the end of the day, any detail can contribute to make the software a bit better.
Accumulated Knowledge At Noon
This noon, it’s Product Forum time. This is our regular meeting where anybody from the company is invited to join and discuss our software together with the Product Management team. Today, we want to present the planning of the Web Client and gather input from fellow colleagues. We’ve got so many smart eggheads on board that it would be nothing short of stupid to ignore this expert knowledge. But before that, it’s time to decide what we’re having for lunch.