How I got the design vs coding all wrong – and learned

November 12, 2020

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Jan Madsen

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The idea to create Enuda popped up in my mind sometime spring 2017. Over summer and autumn the same year, I worked on the core question for any new business: “How to turn what I think is a great idea into a real business opportunity?” I have been running my own business since 2006 and had therefore both some financial means and probably way more necessary some experiences to put into play. 

From the very beginning, I was adamant about one thing: We have to be good at what we do – really, really good. If we succeed in convincing potential clients that going with the Enuda team is the right thing to do, we have to create the necessary professional respect. Yes, of course, I know about the old maxim“just fake it till you make it”, but that will never work in this context. 

The decision to build a team that has strong skills in working with the Ignition platform turned out to be a multi-faceted problem. Good at precisely what? The Ignition platform, of course, that is after all the only thing we d. But I soon realised this is only half the truth. There are several other aspects of this: 

  • Understanding the complexities of the Ignition platform itself
  • Building the proficiency to code
  • Designing effective solutions to demanding clients
  • Getting the Ignition platform connected to the client’s network

And that is only mentioning the technical bits and pieces. 

The diverse Enuda team

The Enuda team is by design a mixed crowd of people with a diverse skill set covering engineering, coding and design. Working with the Ignition platform is a rewarding experience because the company behind, Inductive Automation, has created this magnificent learning platform called Inductive University. Everyone has access to Inductive University and can via the platform, learn the basics of how to work with Ignition. On top, there is a certification path, which allows you to reach the skill level of Ignition Gold Certified should you so desire.

The decision from the very beginning was therefore to “force” everyone on the team through the Inductive University, and additionally encourage people to go for Ignition certification. The result of which is a team holding several both Core and Gold certificates. 

Coding vs design

I never doubted the importance of investing in building strong design skills. The world is full of ugly and in-efficient software solutions, and in the industrial space even more so. Why put a lot of effort into building some useful code, if the result is so ugly nobody wants to use it? Or maybe even worse, it does not work from a user perspective. Hence design and UX (User Experience) are vital elements in creating effective solutions. 

But I saw that as a sequential process: First we do the design, check for user-friendliness, and then we add the coding behind the scenes. This thinking made sense since, In most projects, the users never see what’s behind the scenes. They have functional demands, and our job is to make it happen. 

My thinking around this turned out to be wrong. Instead of this being a sequential process that can be planned and projected, the reality is more complicated. The individual elements are way more intertwined compared to my original thinking. 

Coding at the centre

My epiphany came via Jessica, our fantastic designer. She decided one day to put herself on the track of learning some Ignition coding (how difficult can that be!) and signed up for the Ignition Core Certification test. As a non-engineer and with no prior coding experience that is something of a challenge.  

By watching her progress and listening to her aha moments, I realised that I was wrong. Coding is at the centre. Design and the other elements of a well-functioning solution are all necessary and essential. But coding sits at the core of all solutions. The main reason behind this logic is that in most of the solutions, we are involved with tend to get large and complex over time. And large and complicated solutions with shitty code is the same as asking for trouble. 

Therefore, code at the core! We need to be good at building some sophisticated yet straightforward code.

In the meantime, Jessica continued her development and is today Ignition Gold Certified. In the below video from our Unofficial Ignition Podcast, she explains about her learning path and how it was to jump from design to coding. 

Key take-aways from Jessica:

  • The Core Certification process is frustrating, but fun!
  • Think about coding vs design vs navigation – and put coding at the centre
  • Learning is always fun!

Written by Jan Madsen,
founder of Enuda

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