This is the third in a series of interviews with SAP employees in a variety of roles in the area of user experience and design.
Fazlul Hoque is an interaction designer in the field of the Internet of Things. He currently works in the Predictive Maintenance and Service team in Walldorf, Germany. A native of Bangladesh, Fazlul joined SAP in 2006.
Please briefly explain what you do at SAP as an interaction designer.
At SAP I work in a multidisciplinary team to create products that are easy to use and meet the goals of the end users. Basically, I take the user requirements gathered in the user research phases and, in an iterative process, transform these into something that developers can build. That primarily involves designing user interfaces and defining interaction paradigms that are used in these applications. It’s a demanding process because you need to take into consideration the user requirements, the technical factors of implementing a design, and also make sure that the system is not only functional but also simple and usable.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy the creative process of finding simple and elegant solutions to complex problems. As designers we are in the forefront of creating cutting edge products. That is truly exciting.
What are the most challenging aspects of your work?
Designers have to work in multiple projects and each of these has its own characteristics and complexities. As a designer, I need to be able to comprehend these business processes and technical aspects to do my work. This entire process of coming up to speed with a new topic and being able to deliver high-quality design in a fast-paced environment can be very challenging, but it also keeps my job interesting.
In a typical project, who do you work with?
Interaction designers are a core part of each development team, which means we work with all stakeholders at different phases in the development process. So we are interacting with end users, product managers, developers, information developers, and in some cases also with specialized roles such as data scientist or external consultants. Basically, we are involved whenever the user interface is affected, and that is pretty much most of the time.
How is interaction design different from, for example, visual design or user research?
Design has different aspects, depending on the phase of the development process. Interaction design sits between user research and visual design. It is the process of transforming end user requirements (captured together with the user researchers) into workable prototypes. Once a concept for the interaction design is in place, then comes the phase of close collaboration between the interaction designer and the visual designer. Throughout the iterations, review with stakeholders and end users are also key to achieving the classic design thinking goal of desirability, feasibility and viability.
What did you study?
I have a background in computer science and engineering with a focus on human-computer interaction (HCI). I studied HCI at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. I wrote my master’s thesis at SAP and started working here right after I finished.
How did your studies prepare you for your career as an interaction designer?
The HCI program focuses on the intersection between business, computer science and psychology. You learn about design methodologies, prototyping, and also the technical aspects like programing. So you get a feeling for both sides.
What is your design motto?
Keep it simple!
Fazlul, thank you for the interview!
Thank you, Esther.
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