Editor’s note: Etan Lightstone is the director of UX design at New Relic. His article was originally published on TechCrunch.

As people are bringing new expectations of a quality user experience into the workplace, delivering a consumer-grade experience is becoming critical for all business software and is a fundamental way for software makers to compete in the market. While most software makers are increasingly aware of this truth, the challenge today is how to effectively make the transition to building consumer quality software for the enterprise.

A designer without an engineer is an art gallery, an engineer without a designer is a parking lot

Balancing designer and engineer perspectives and even designer and product manager perspectives is critical. Instead of having designers slap on a design at the beginning or end of a project, they need to work closely with engineers along the way to properly align design and engineering capabilities.

Lead designers sharing the product definition role with product managers creates a healthy tension and helps to provide checks and balances as multiple people define a project from two different but equally essential lenses:

  1. Designers: the design perspective, focused on usability, workflow, and evoking a good emotional reaction from customers
  2. Product managers: the business perspective, focused on increasing profit and market share for the company

We found that the hub-and-spoke model for organizing product design with the rest of the engineering team works well. We deal with problems and do reviews as a single design team: That’s the hub. But we also have spokes: lead designers on every project, completely embedded and focused as members of the project team. Having an embedded designer ensures we always have a representative that’s a single point of contact and in touch with the day-to-day issues the engineering team deals with in its development life cycle.

designing enterprise software concept

To read this article it its entirety, visit TechCrunch, where Etan discusses how to spark an emotional connection with your users, what you should be doing prior to beta testing, and how to make the best use of the feedback you receive.


Enterprise software image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.


As Director of UX Design at New Relic, Etan Lightstone oversees a team of talented designers, leads the user experience design strategy, and on occasion gets the opportunity to contribute to the product codebase. Etan has a special interest in data visualization and analysis, as well as surfing, guitar, and photography. View posts by .

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