I'm not among those who fear that normal social interactions are doomed because of the Internet. I believe technology has created opportunities for connection, productivity, and understanding far beyond those offered by any other medium.
These oppotunities, of course, include the freedom to choose poorly, even inhumanely. But that is a problem we have with freedom, not technology.
When I develop or maintain a website, my goal is to build a place where people feel comfortable and safe. I think of a website as a little house. When someone stops by, I want them to see an open door and an enticing, yet comprehensible, space.
To make a website a home, set up a logical information architecture, create an accessible and aesthetic design, and write code that's easy on bandwidth and easy to share.
Interface Redesign: Ann Arbor Ice Cube
This report analyzes the interface of the Ann Arbor Ice Cube website, based on interface design principles. Recommendations for improvements and wireframes of a revised interface are included.
This report includes comprehensive task analyses for processes offered on the American Red Cross website, revised versions of those processes, and wireframe storyboards delineating the recommended changes. In my revisions, I relied heavily on AJAX calls to avoid page reloads and achieve a smoother flow. A style guide codifying these and other recommendations accompanies this report.
Never in my wildest dreams did I realize how complicated welding can be. But designing and coding an interface for a team at Wayne State University definitely opened my eyes. Created by the CInDI (Computational Intelligence and Design Informatics) Laboratory, this software allows engineers to input, store, and test data about welding, all while sipping coffee in the comfort of their air-conditioned offices.
All the sweating was left to the developers, and me, of course—because I had to literally look up every engineering and statistics term the team used. And once I had a vague idea of what was happening in the app, I needed to find a way to display reams of data on mobile devices. My solution was to create small scrollable windows for each table. I hid everything in collapsible sections, and included a side navigation menu, complete with icons, to help users quickly move through the system.
Simple as it all sounds in retrospect, my task was complicated by the fact that the developers had already created an interface based on the framework of their Java coding, as opposed to the needs of an actual user, particularly one on a phone. Having studied Java in college, I could see their error right away, and I had to gradually convince the developers to refrain from asserting their Java structures in the interface. I was about 75% successful in this endeavor—something I'm very proud of.
In the end, I managed to categorize and present components I barely understood well enough to create a usable experience for the coffee sippers. Most importantly, I'm told the investors really liked it.
Creating an application interface for the elite tinkerers at CInDI was mind-expanding, to say the least. I was pretty relieved when instead of parsing sophisticated statistical metrics, the team asked me to make a simple website for their laboratory. "Easy peasy," said I.
The original site was plagued with very long pages that required scrolling down for content, and then back up for navigation. For faster navigation, I created a horizontal submenu off the global menu to let users quickly see their options and choose where they want to go. I then coded the content and image sections to be collapsible, allowing the user to shorten the page and open only those sections they want to look at.
I further ramped up this client's SEO by painstakingly microdata-tagging anything that moved. At one point, you could google, "Lawyer Silver Spring Maryland," and this site was at the top. Here's the proof.
My attorney client wanted to augment his thriving bankruptcy business by becoming a realtor who specializes in auctions, foreclosures, and short sales. I recommended we create a separate real estate site and link it with his law site. This would keep navigation easy for the user, and also strengthen his overall branding and SEO.
I take credit for the flowing prose in this site, edited by my client, of course. And I taught myself enough PHP to add a simple contact form.