Is UX really UI?
Despite the general consensus that user experience encompass all elements of an end-user’s journey, UX Designers are usually positioned to focus primarily on the surface-level details of what end-users see in a product’s interface—layout, color, imagery, and interactive elements like form fields and navigation. Mature UX models maintain deeper integrations with DevOps, adopting Agile and Lean methodologies to build timely, viable solutions, while mitigating tech debt, and level-setting expectations for design, function, and form. While the gains from these integrations are significant, many UX teams still have little access (or input) into a critical component of the well-rounded user experience—the foundational logic.
Architectural models define the reasoning behind the structure and behavior of data—the foundation that supports how data is gathered, moved, and viewed throughout the product. A flexible, scalable architecture grasps the intentionality of the product, combining the functionality and scope of the software elements it supports and the relations between them. Most approaches and methodologies begin with the straightforward question—”What is the intended use of the architecture?” It’s in the process of finding that answer that we uncover a critical opportunity to build foundational models that drive a great user experience.
Like systems architects, UX Design practitioners (originally called Information Architects), are required to synthesize abstract and complex concepts into a chain of intentions that define interactions and flows between users, devices, functions, screens, and data. Although we are often only tasked with defining surface-level, taxonomy-driven details, such as navigation and sitemaps, a knowledgeable information architect could do a lot more. By combining the natural ability to analyze and synthesize information with the ability to communicate a holistic end-to-end experience (the intended outcome of the data)–well, that’s where the magic begins.
Clarity in the Middleware Conundrum
As organizations jump on the cloud bandwagon to improve everything from operational efficiency to business agility, DevOps is often tasked with creating a seamless ecosystem that integrates legacy, monolithic systems with multicloud environments. For this example, we’ll explore how Company A and Company B tackled their middleware projects. Both large, national, (and fictitious) companies, each project team is tasked with developing the necessary integration layers for a series of on-premise legacy apps, multicloud systems, and variety of deployment environments. The mission-critical information contained in these systems is generated and rendered in a variety of ways, such as C-level corporate dashboards, administrative payroll, and HR portals, in-field personnel via proprietary mobile apps, call center agents, and customer self-service account portals.