I love this quote and I frequently use it when introducing the UX and UI design processes to new customers and to internal design and development teams when we start up a new project.
Too many times the design and development teams want to build something in a way they are familiar with or personally enjoy or want to force that latest new thing into an experience. But they forget these products are not being built for them. They may use the product when it’s completed, but they are not the User while its being built.
I began adopting the UX and UI design strategies and Information Architecture methodologies into my visual design solutions in 2002 when I started working as a Graphic Designer for a defense contractor designing online training products and website interfaces for Government and Defense customers. The structure of the UX and UI design processes fascinated me because they actually define the framework for the visual design phase when done correctly. As a Graphic Designer, I adhered to the “function follows form” ideology but now I blend the disciplined approach of UX/UI processes with the open-ended possibilities of visual design solutions to more effectively define a roadmap for a variety of creative and user-centered design challenges.
CASE STUDY ONE: Remote Tour Guide
The Project: Develop an app for use in remote areas of Pennsylvania state parks where no internet connectivity is available for the purpose of supplementing educational experiences at static kiosks along trails by utilizing mobile devices.
The Problem: Visitor experiences on remote mountain trails are limited to static visuals posted to outdoor kiosks. These visuals are susceptible to fading and deterioration and also require staff to visit each kiosk to post new content which includes a considerable cost for materials and time. Lastly, a need to bring in younger visitors to the parks is important to their longevity and finding a way to integrate mobile device technology is a great way to accomplish this goal.
The Solution: Build a product that integrates QR code technology and GPS location services to launch enhanced educational experiences including augmented reality, translucent overlays, video, or static content. Using QR and GPS technology allows visitors to launch these experiences without internet service. They simply download the app prior to their visit or at the visitors center before they start their tour to ensure they have the most recent content.
I started with quick sketches to show basic flow of the anticipated User interaction with the app and began to develop ideas for the menu items and other features that may be desired. These features were also outlined in what would become a features backlog document. This document allowed us to determine the sequence of features to build in each development phase based on priority and build cost.
Once the basic flow was outlined, I began to visualize specific design elements and think about complex menu options such as offering multiple experiences launched from a single scan at a kiosk. Rudimentary UI layouts and function placement were also starting to form.
Now the flow begins to become refined and specific UI elements are chosen for the first development cycle. We also see where the handoff occurs between the proprietary app product and the customer's version of the product. This is important because it helps us start to understand who owns which portion of this product and where appropriate branding needs to reside.
The Result: This project is still under development but interest has been generated with other agencies such as the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and also local businesses interested in sponsoring portions of the product to support their business and help fund product development.
Performed the role of Task Lead for the creative team on the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) outreach campaign. Developed all Information Architecture documentation and created the UI design for the new website as well as spearheaded development of the new logo and other support materials including an exhibition display.
Worked as the Program Manager partnering with the National Counterproliferation Center (NCPC) developing many outreach products including this interactive touchscreen trivia product provided to event attendees alongside the NCPC exhibition booth promoting the S3: Science. Safety. Security outreach initiative. The Trivia Challenge was very popular at events and increased traffic to the booth.
User Interface Design and Content Management
Contracted with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) as their Information Architect to create and maintain the content repository and develop the wireframes for the Sustainable Products Center (SPC) website -- a resource for DoD personnel to learn about sustainable solutions and alternatives for their installations. This website is built and maintained within the established DENIX framework and the front-end visual components were designed by DoD staff.
Mobile Device UI
Worked with development team as the UI designer to develop the new mobile app interface for the National Defense Center for Energy and Environment (NDCEE) used by NDCEE staff at conferences and meetings to present NDCEE products, capabilities, and success stories to partners and stakeholders.
GUI for Database Application
Continue to lead the National Defense University's (NDU) Executive Assessment and Development Program (EADP) multi-year effort as the Program Manager and worked with engineering team as the UX and UI designer to design the new web-based student data capture interface.
I have many years of experience working with video production teams as a storyboard artist, Production Assistant, Director, and Production Manager and have been the primary decision-maker when recruiting professional acting talent, scouting shoot locations, and facilitating logistics for acquisition of equipment, aircraft, vehicles, weapons, and military staff.
20 page booklet created for implant surgeons to use as an aid when explaning the benefits of implant surgery to potential implant patients. This booklet is one of the products offered to clients of Levin Group, Inc. and is sent in electronic format to the client site where a print vendor of their choice integrates the practice's office logo and other specific information.
Created as a promotional piece for display during the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) symposium to showcase the capabilities of CTC's Integrated Learning Technology Solutions group.
Marketing piece developed for GAC International. GAC develops new technology for the dental industry and this 16 page booklet showcases the In-ovation bracket and is used by GAC sales teams to market the In-ovation bracket to Orthodontists across the country. This design spearheaded the branding campaign for the In-ovation bracket that included product packaging, direct mail collateral, and multimedia presentation materials used at industry trade shows and conferences.
Created for OraPharma Pharmaceuticals for distribution to dental implant surgery offices as a marketing device to educate patients on the signs of gum disease, prompt a discussion with their doctor, and introduce OraPharma products to the patient.