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Forming design teams

Each project has different requirements. I form teams with the best people for each project. This is a very efficient and cost-effective way of working.

Visual design.  I have a long-term partnership with Debbie Falck, of Design Presence. As a visual designer she applies graphic design principles to my schematic designs.Visual design is more than making things pretty – it's not "putting lipstick on a pig." Instead, it's a way to create the appropriate information hierarchy through the careful use of typography, color, layout, graphics and spatial relationships.

My focus is on what the user can do, rather than how those interactions appear. My sketches and prototypes are schematic: there are no graphics and the only color is gray. This helps us focus on the interactions, rather than the early appearance. A visual designer works with those schematics to create a functional and attractive final product. It's really a synergy, both because of our long-term collaboration and because we understand each other's work. There are always tradeoffs between appearance and function, but we've developed ways to work them out.

I recently completed a Web-site redesign with Sue-Ellen Lamb, of Swell Design.

Usability testing.  I've done big usability studies with a partner, Ron Perkins of Design Perspectives. In particular, read about the ACM Portal project.

Writing.  When people visit a Web site, they want to find information quickly. Text that is too wordy or that doesn't quickly come to the point can make people leave rather than enter a site, so careful attention to wording is important.

Margaret Meehan, of Text Matters is a writer who focuses on Web content and related marketing documents. She's done site indexes and content for projects such as printer-management, eCommerce and hotel reservation.

Industrial Design.   Hardware projects require industrial design, because someone has to develop the beautiful and functional forms to make the device work well. As one client pointed out, they do in 3D what a visual designer does in 2D.

I've worked with Bob Hanson on the Dictaphone microphone design project. I also collaborated with Al Ball on the design of a voice-over-IP telephone for Pingtel.

Software.  Prototypes that work, or that seem to work, are an important part of the design process. When we need more than simple HTML, I bring in an HTML coder to focus on that.

Software engineers are important for delivering a complete solution, or a prototype that is more functional. Richard Wells of Reality and Wonder is a great engineer, who did some development for a usability-testing tool at HomePortfolio.com.