I’m currently employed as a User Experience Engineer.
What is a User Experience Engineer?
Great question! I sit at the crossroads of UI, UX, and Front-end Development. I also dabble in business strategy and project management.
At FPX, this means I’m responsible for:
- User research and testing (most often through interviews)
- Collecting, shaping, and prioritizing requirements
- Reconciling those requirements with business and customer goals
- Collaborating with developers to discover potential technical pitfalls before design begins
- Designing the UI
- Documenting the UI through pattern libraries and design specs
- Developing the UI
- Collaborating with developers so they’re empowered to implement UI features without me
I work cross-functionally with customers and their internal representatives, executive management, middle management, and developers to create and deliver all of the above in a timeline and budget that satisfies everyone’s needs.
What does a typical day or week look like?
Most days, I’m doing some form of prototyping or asset development. For lower fidelity prototyping, I usually sketch or draw rough wireframes on my iPad. If we’re far enough along that we need higher fidelity, I’ll jump into CodePen so I can work with code. CodePen’s sterile environment gives me the space I need to focus on the actual problem at hand, without worrying about the overhead of an entire application environment. When it comes time to commit these artifacts to real code in a real application, I use what I explored in the CodePen phase (or the mockup sketches, in the case of leveraging existing components) to write any necessary HTML, CSS, or JS to deliver a solution. I engage with developers early and often to make sure my work is documented, understood, and aware of any potential pitfalls or limitations on the technical side of things.
Outside of putting code on the screen, I also work closely with our customer representatives and executive management to ensure my work is aligned with everyone’s goals. The customer reps help provide any background and feedback I need from real users of our applications. Where necessary, I work with our executives to present research findings, discuss mockup proposals, and gather any necessary input about our internal goals for a particular set of work.
What have you done lately?
We started rolling out a new pair of product offerings for our customers in early 2020. These new products replace older technology with an improved interface design and user experience, and are more readily customizable for organizations who wish to white-label our software. It was immensely rewarding working with customers to identify their pain points with our previous offerings, and design solutions that addressed their needs. We were even able to uncover new opportunities for quality-of-life improvements that couldn’t have been realized otherwise.
After shipping those products, I turned my focus to documenting the emergent patterns and designs from that experience. I’m currently organizing this documentation into a styleguide and pattern library that will inform future redesign and harmonization efforts throughout the rest of our software suite.
What have people said about your work?
As I mentioned before, a large part of my job is interacting with customers, whether through representatives, or directly. Those customer insights are crucial to the success of our applications. Here’s what a customer had to say after we gave a demo of a new custom feature for a unique workflow they wanted to implement:
I didn’t want to say this during the call in front of my boss [VP Marketing] because [after he said good things about our solution,] I did not want to sound like I was sucking up to my boss. [chuckle]
When you showed the mockup, I had to mute my phone. I was so impressed how you went from our silly little mockup ideas, and totally blew me away. I am so impressed by just how simple you were able to boil it down in the mockup.
When our marketing department unveiled a new graphic it wanted to use in company demos, it spawned a heated internal discussion. Instead of putting focus on the value our company could provide to potential customers, some design elements of the graphic generated negative attention that distracted from its intended purpose. I provided targeted feedback that addressed the graphic’s shortcomings in a cost effective manner and brought the conversation back to a more productive tone. The graphic’s designer shared these comments after the dust settled:
I’ve been looking at comments on the graphic and compiling them. Nothing yet, but we are working on it and considering everything.
The main reason I’m emailing I noticed for almost every problem you bring, you propose a solution. Sometimes you spell it out, sometimes it’s implicit.
Just wanted to say thank you for structuring it that way. This is very helpful.
Where can I view examples of your work at FPX?
Our primary business at FPX is enterprise B2B software, so I’m unable to share details about the exact deliverables I produce (you wouldn’t want me sharing your or your customers’ proprietary IP, would you?).
I do have a few blog posts that cover some interesting challenges I’ve faced:
- CSS Grid Layout Notes
- Multiple Layouts Made Easy with CSS Grid
- Intelliquip Featured on Hotjar
- Making the Most of a Bad CSSituation
If there’s anything you’d like to know about my work as a User Experience Engineer for FPX, reach out over email and I’ll do my best to help answer your questions.