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  • The life and times of modern-day product designer

    Dave Pfeiffer

    Just when you think you’ve achieved something great, maybe even perfect, the world sometimes throws you a curve. Like many other things today, design processes and product strategies seem to be in a continuous state of evolution. While methodologies and core design principles hold strong, desired outcomes and the definitions of success somehow seem to change.

    A year ago I collaborated with Angie Hildack, ibi PM Lead, on an article titled “Welcome to the new WebFOCUS!” where we set the stage for the great things we had planned for the product. As I look back at the experience vision we described in that article and consider the progress we’ve made since then, I feel we are indeed delivering on that promise. Although it has not been without challenges and complexities we’ve needed to overcome. It’s become clear that attempting to solve some of the experience challenges we set out to address ended up introducing new challenges that also had to be met with careful consideration. There are times where solving one problem causes another, and then another, and another, etc. It’s a cycle of design exploration and iteration that is not new in the world of product design, but it is unique and challenging each time it occurs. The goals and the endpoint you strive for sometimes end up being quite different when you actually get there. In life, the destination is often relatively unknown and is entirely dependent on the journey itself. And more times than not, the old saying is absolutely true. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination. Of course in the world of product design, the destination absolutely matters. But the journey is every bit as rewarding if you look at it the right way.

    So how do we ensure the journey leads to the right destination? It’s important to periodically revisit the process, the goals, and the expected outcomes… and make adjustments accordingly as trends, audiences and needs change. With the increasing importance of designing for all user types, this heightened level of user awareness has naturally impacted the way we think and feel and design, which in turn, has altered our concept of the product design lifecycle. We plan longer release cycles with phases of incremental exploration, validation, and updates which allow more flexibility for course correction and problem solving. This provides us the best opportunity to evolve our design strategy as it unfolds while still keeping the destination, wherever and whatever it may be, in sight. 

    With WebFOCUS and the Hub in particular, we’ve spent the last few years heavily focused on reaching new audiences and leveraging modern technologies. We aim to draw greater performance and outcomes from data and provide improved reporting, visualization and collaboration capabilities for better real-time decision making. This of course is critical to our long-term strategy for growth and continued success. As for the journey… we continue to toe the line between old and new ways of working, traditional and modern ways of thinking, manual and automated workflows, back-end code and front end UI, etc. We’re working hard to connect the past with the future to ensure they complement each other with relative harmony. Can WebFOCUS be everything to everybody? Time will tell. We haven’t reached the destination yet so it’s hard to say with certainty. But we hope to come as close to this as we can. This is the journey we are on… and it is not ours alone. Through ongoing partnerships and collaboration with our customers, we travel this road together as we imagine, and re-imagine, the future of WebFOCUS. Together we will see the forest for the trees.

    We’ve come a long way this past year and continue to add key features of great value as planned. But it’s entirely possible the concept of a final destination may simply not exist. Even so, we’ll continue on this course and we’re glad to be sharing this journey with you. And as the saying goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. This is very true. This past year was a great first step to realizing our vision and we’re excited about the possibilities in store for the future.


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