This is the ninth in my series of interviews with SAP employees in the area of user experience and design. In this and the previous interview, I talked to developers instead of designers to get their take on contributing to the user experience of SAP products.
Philip Miseldine is a development expert in the Global Design Frontrunner Apps team at SAP. Originally from the UK, Philip works in Walldorf, Germany.
Please briefly explain what you do at SAP as a developer.
For many years I worked within the central security team at SAP. There I developed patches and coordinated responses to security issues. What I loved about that work was the creativity and inventiveness you need to apply as a developer to play around with systems, find out what’s going on, and secure them. In Global Design, I’ve found I can take that creativity to the next level. I can work within a creative process and have a great time helping design and implement next generation SAP products.
As a developer, what role do you see yourself playing in the design of SAP products?
We have lots of great ideas within Global Design, from the far-out to the tangible. As a developer, my role is helping to get these ideas off the whiteboard, the post-it notes, and scraps of paper, and up and running with technology: whether that’s an iPhone, a smartwatch, or on the web.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Every project is different and requires new skills. In one project we could be investigating how to build the perfect smartwatch application, which means getting familiar with the Apple Watch and the Microsoft Band. In another project, we might look into voice recognition, which means getting up to speed with natural language processing and voice dictation. It’s really fun to constantly be challenged and explore the latest technology to help SAP prepare for the future.
In a typical project, who do you work with?
Although there is no typical project for us really, I always work in a multidisciplinary team. We have designers, inventors, design thinking experts, all of whom provide unique key assets to help our projects be successful. Without all those skills, for example if we were just a team of developers, we would miss out on so much. I learnt so much from working directly with great designers, understanding how to make a lasting connection with users through developing great user experiences. The design thinking approach really helps us keep focus during the chaotic times and helps challenge us to create better and better solutions.
As a developer, what do you see as the biggest challenges in ensuring a good design in the end product?
From a technical perspective ensuring responsiveness and usability and keeping everything secure while at the same time being innovative is a real challenge. But when you overcome these hurdles, you can be really proud. I mean, going from a design sketch to a working design is great. Having it work everywhere, on any device while still surprising and delighting the user with something innovative is the great thing with design and development working together as one team. But ve to see a product being used by people and enjoyed. Enjoyment often comes from those little things, those details which show someone cared and thought about the end-user.
What was the best project you ever worked on and why?
My favourite project recently involved smartwatches. We explored and investigated how we can develop business solutions for these tiny devices. Talk about an extreme UX: limited battery, tiny screen, minimal capabilities. But we came up with some great use ases andlemented them on a set of smartwatches. And this helped us to build a guide for others at SAP who are approaching development for smartwatch applications, so they can learn from our mistakes and our insights. The guide has been really well appreciated, and it helped us build a community around SAP for those working on smartwatch applications.
What closing advice would you give to other developers with regard to design?
Always think about the user who will work with what you are coding. In the end, we develop software for human beings, and we need to always keep in mind the way people want to work, not what is easiest for us to code. Every step of the way, from the backend through to the middleware and the presentation layer, think: how is the user going to benefit from this, how are they going to use it, and why would they use it. Whether that’s another developer using your API, or executives needing their critical data fast on their mobile, we have a responsibility to design and build a great UX for everyone.
Philip, thank you for the interview!
Thank you, Esther.