Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Bill's primary strengths are in strategy, conceptualization, and designing UI architectures that create smooth and logical connections between users and tecnology. The services he offers are tuned to reflect these strengths. However, there are related skills that Bill is often asked about. Here are some answers.
The better you know your users and their circumstances the better you can design products for them.
To this end Bill routinely utilizes techniques commesurate with rapid development projects; such as interviews with your marketers and sales engineers, interviews with key users or customers, tactical surveys of your user base, and occasionally customer site visits and user observation sessions. These techniques are quick and efficient, but are limted in their intelligence-gathering potential.
Should you wish to determine the characteristics of your users with accuracy, precision and depth it is suggested that you engage user studies professionals specializing in ethnographic studies, contextual inquiry and so forth, as appropriate. Bill can advise you in this process, and can direct or collaborate with whomever you choose.
No matter how careful you are in designing and implementing products you don't truly know how usable they are until users use them.
Bill does have a strong track record of designing highly usable products, and this is due in part to his tactical use of lightweight usability testing techniques commensurate with rapid development cycles. These include heuristic evaluation, paper prototyping, spot testing of mockups or prototypes with people from around the office, and, when possible, task-oriented testing with a small number of target users at customer sites. However these techniques are by their very nature limited, and in any case cannot discover instances where the implementatiion has undermined the design.
Before releasing a product you have your Software Quality Assurance group comprehensively test it, right? And you do this because you want to "assure" yourself that there are no significant operational, functional or compatibility problems with the product, right? Well, if you want the same "assurance" that there are no usability bugs then you may wish to engage usability experts with the equipment and expertise to comprehensively evaluate the usability of your product. Should you wish to pursue this degree of risk management Bill can advise you in this process, and can direct or collaborate with whomever you choose.
For industrial and commercial grade products Bill's visual design skills are often adequate, sometimes augmented by a contract Icon Designer. For retail or consumer grade products Bill can effectively work with in-house or contract Graphic and Industrial Designers to produce the requisite look and feel.
Bill's primary work products are written reports and specifications, supported where necessary by static prototypes such as web pages, paper prototypes, "slide shows," and UI mockups. When interactive prototypes are necessary, these can be produced with Bill's guidance by your programming staff or by specialty subcontractors.
Bill has programmed in machine code, assembly language BASIC and Pascal, and has a good understanding of object-oriented principles. thus he is able to intelligently interact with your programming staff. However Bill is not a programmer. His programming skills are out of date and are not included in his service offerings.