Google invented a new professional, the User Experience Engineer, only a few years ago. This two-sided master helps the product delivery the same way devops helped the software delivery. The UXE professional has been introduced in Sketchin since 2016: let’s find out why.

“So long and thanks for all the fish!”. This is the closing remark of the talk given by Sketchin’s experts, Luca Mascaro and Matteo Petrani, during Codemotion Rome 2019. This greeting has been taken from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe”, the fourth book of the science fiction series by Douglas Adams (1952-2001).

I find this final greeting really inspirational because Douglas Adams has perhaps been the only real science fiction writer ever. What we normally call science fiction is not originated by a revolutionary new scientific breakthrough, but from an evolutionary new technological innovation. That’s not science, but technology.

What all of this has to do with Sketchin’s speech? It’s easy to say: Sketchin’s vision is based on revolutionary expertise, synthesised in a new professional figure: the User Experience Engineer, or UXE.

We are used to some classical professionals, such as developers and user experience designers, competing to create a product or service. Design and technology share a cross dependency, so the solution to this dilemma is very difficult to find out in most cases.

There is no way to make a perfect match, though. Either technology or design has to win over its counterpart. So the question is: what if the software is the master? And what if the technology is the master? Here comes Luca Mascaro’s experience: product or services are weaker, should a designer have the lead of the overall project.

Luca Mascaro (left) and Matteo Petrani (right) during their talk at Codemotion Rome 2019

The water-scrum-fall

Sketchin culture comes from the scrum environment. The delivery process is largely based on the “have a problem, find a solution” mechanism. The developer finds out the best solution, while the designer imagines the best option for the future. There is the need for a compromise, in an iterating process of managing all decisions through confrontation.

Sketchin’s experience states that the best solutions come from the programming side, but you can’t give the entire delivery process to one of the competing sides. The best solution is to define a brand new professional, carrying the best of two worlds with a strong view of the delivery process. This professional is the UXE.

The UXE needs to have two active faces, such as Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings (according to Wikipedia). The meaning of this ancient Roman god is then appropriate to the need for managing the delivery process. This new kind of engineer has not been thought of by Sketchin, Google proposed it a few years ago. Sketchin immediately understood it was an ideal solution to the process of generating a new product or service and immediately started rethinking their knowledge in this direction.

The “last mile” of delivery

How do we put it all together? It is UXE’s responsibility to choose the right touchpoints for all the project to be integrated into the product or service.

It is UXE’s responsibility to master the proof of concept through its final version. This refers to both the architectural design and the day-to-day management. It is the UXE who is the professional tasked to solve the hundreds of micro-decisions rolling out faster than hell during every project.

Remembering the importance of the last mile for telecommunications, we could say this Janus-like professional ensures the completion of the last mile of the design process.

The Design Ops

When the barrier between development and operations finally fell, the new term “DevOp” was created. The UXE can be seen in the same way, as the expert who masters both design and operations, we could call him or her a “DesOp”, or Design Op.

Sketchin’s experience data shows relevant metrics in favor of UXE. Giving him or her the mastery, you can experience savings such as:

  • Time to market, 26%
  • Maintenance, 47%
  • General costs, 30%

There has been a UXE unit in Sketchin since 2016 to maintain a high end-to-end quality experience from envisioning to development.

The DesOp approach aims to get the right tools, systems and practices in place to allow successful delivery of design at scale. That’s why it strengthens the foundation of the design practice.

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