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Data + Experience Design

December 5, 2013

“Oh, you’re a designer? What are you doing at Strata?”

The question was asked without any animosity, just genuine curiosity. He couldn’t fathom why any designer would be at an enterprise-centric big data conference.

Design is often thought of as the last coat of paint that someone might put on a product to  dress it up. The final accessory to an outfit–either the final touch to a strong ensemble or an elaborate hat to make others look at you and perhaps distract from what else is happening.

My background is in consumer product design.  I joined Trifacta in its early days because I agreed wholeheartedly with the founders: managing Big Data is a technology and activity in need of strong user experience (UX) DNA from the very beginning.  Here at Trifacta, we believe that UX design is a core component on many fronts. UX is core to the behavior and functionality of a successful product. UX is core to build a successful company.  And UX starts with people first.

We believe that every person who uses enterprise software is also a consumer. He or she is used to interacting with digital experiences that are functional and delightful, whether it’s Netflix’s latest media-consumption interface or the contextual gorgeousness that is Yahoo’s newest weather app.  If the rest of their workday and personal technology interactions are personal and delightful,  why should that person need to suffer through poorly thought-out enterprise software workflows?


At the heart of our software development process is the person using the Trifacta product.  It’s common in the UX community to talk about people-centric design: at Trifacta that means understanding data analysts and their business counterparts and how they work. We hope that each person who uses the Trifacta product—be it a data scientist, business analyst, IT programmer—will find that the platform anticipates their needs and solves their problems in ways that are unexpected and delightful. In the complex space of data transformation, designers seek to understand the problem from the end user’s perspective. Not to ask the user how to solve his or problems, but to empathize and understand what barriers and unmet needs prevent him from wading through the masses of big data to achieve true insight and analysis.

From a cultural and company perspective, we also believe that UX is a team sport. There is no solo superstar designer who has the right answer or the right photoshop filter for every problem. In addition to our end users, Trifacta relies on a collaborative process to generate ideas and solutions from every person on our team, be they engineers, designers, or product managers.  From day one. Creating a strong people-centered foundation ensures that requirements, prioritization, and a strong minimum-viable product (MVP) will focus on several key experiences executed very well.  Throughout our day, we work on design informing engineering and vice versa, in a virtuous cycle that ultimately makes for a better product.

Stay tuned for future posts about data-driven design and the consumerization of enterprise software.