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With the eyes of the user

Andreas makes sure SKIDATA has stellar software design– but just making it pretty isn't enough for him.

Andreas is SKIDATA's man for good software design. However, he is not only interested in making applications look appealing. "That comes at the very end," he says. His first concern is that an application is intuitive and straightforward to use, only then does he consider a product well designed.

Andreas is a User Experience and Interface Designer. Before that, the trained electrical engineer had already held many different roles at SKIDATA. One clear theme from his professional career is that in his own words his,  “...focus is on making complicated things easy for the user.” When he joined SKIDATA more than 30 years ago, he worked in documentation. Back then, he was typing on a typewriter. "I've always enjoyed explaining things more than tinkering with technical things," says the 53-year-old. Documentation, training, and education were his areas of expertise. He has also trained customers and technicians for SKIDATA abroad.

Then came the Internet. "I helped develop the first websites for SKIDATA and introduced the first intranet," remembers Andreas. "Over the years, our software applications became more and more complex, and no one cared in detail that they were easy to use.” Today SKIDATA takes a different approach, Andreas has been taking care of software and product ergonomics for many years. "My job is to look at our developments through the eyes of the user and make sure that they can be used optimally for the target group.” Having appealing graphic design is important, but it comes second. "Good design for a software product means above all: good usability," says Andreas. By this, he means, for example, that an application offers exactly the right functions at the right time. "A good interface is one that can be operated intuitively without having to think. Andreas has written a style guide for developers that summarizes SKIDATA's most important rules for building ergonomic software.

"It is important that we use familiar patterns for our applications and not reinvent everything," Andreas is convinced. "This will help users find their way around more quickly. We benefit from the fact that users are already familiar with most of the interaction patterns in using their mobile phones and computers.” Sounds logical, but it took Andreas a while to get his point across in the company. "Original creations may be innovative but have the disadvantage that the user does not know them and has to figure out how they work.”When Andreas started at SKIDATA, the term usability was still unknown. In the beginning, he was called in by the developers to "prettify" the finished product. "For many, the development of the user interface is just that. But, that's wrong," criticizes Andreas. His work is right at the beginning of product development. "Before a programmer has written the first line of code, the user experience designer should have done a lot of work," he says. So, Andreas has a dynamic job.