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A Soapbox Speech: Successful web based projects require a both a User Interface Designer and a Programmer to ensure optimum effectiveness.

UI Design | Designer-Coder | Web Graphics-Multimedia | Architect  vs. Programmer

RE: User interface design

Many people involved with the creation of web sites and web based applications still do not realize the need for a two person team made up of a User Interface Designer and a Programmer. Traditionally the focus has been on the programmer/codewriter as the essential must-have developer. As a result there are the many lay-user oriented products are still badly designed from a user interface point of view. (We are already stuck with some interface conventions that are badly designed, but now industry standard, because originally the programmers were doing the interface design.)

The language of visual communications is every bit as complex as a verbal language, and, to people who are fluent in it, as universally powerful as the language of music. But, contrary to music, it is fraught with cultural variations that carry strong psychological messages. Only those visual language linguists who have had a good deal of practical experience in communicating with the broad range of cultures found on this planet are truly adept at communicating with universal fluency.

The term "Human Factor Knowledge" has been added to the contemporary tech-vocabulary. This is a term invented by academic scientists as an umbrella for knowledge about how peoples' eyes naturally flow, how the elements of design can direct them and how the majority of minds process ideas, concepts and work flow. To an educator in visual design this is an old-hat concept. The root of successful design has always been in that knowledge.

I am an academic specialist in the language of visual communications. I have been published internationally in regards to the application of this to performing arts environments. Over the years, through teaching many classes made up of mixed nationality students, I have had the opportunity to do practical research which has fine tuned my knowledge and abilities.

Like any good designer/artist, I can even break "the rules" for good design, when it is appropriate, to make the product work . A good user interface guides the user to where they want to go or where the owner of the web based product wants them to go. It minimizes the number of clicks needed to get there. It prevents them from wandering off in the wrong direction. Well designed web based applications parallel traditional working processes and do not require retraining and learning a different work process mindset ignored to be able to use the product. It does not fall apart when accessed from different brand browsers.  

UI Design | Designer-Coder | Web Graphics-Multimedia | Architect vs. Programmer | Top

RE: Designer with coding experience

People who are very good at designing hypertext-concept projects must to have an intuitive and spatially oriented mind like mine. This is a fairly rare mindset in the over all human race.

People who are good at writing code must to have a linear and relationally oriented mind; often the same kind of person who is good a learning foreign languages. This is also a fairly rare mindset in the over-all human race.

I happen to be someone who has the ability to force my mind to switch over to functioning in the linear mode from the intuitive mode, but it requires an enormous amount of mental energy to do it. I can handle it in short bursts, but to do it all day long, day after day, in a reliable, error-free way, is not possible. However, this does mean that I am able to understand programming principles and languages. The result is that I can truly collaborate with the programmer in determining the optimal interactive technical solution along with the optimal interface design solution.  

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RE: Web graphics and Multimedia Design

Designing for the web is still young as a medium. Working in web media is a constant challenge of trying to keep up with technological advances. Web graphics and multimedia have very specific technical demands and a design point-of-view that is very different from that used in print graphics or in interactive CDs that are merely digital interactive print brochures.

Rules for good interface design have now been published widely and anyone who follows them will produce an acceptable user interface. The result is that a good look at the web will reveal that we are drowned in McUserInterface designed websites. Truly good user interface design produces a look and feel that it uniquely appropriate to the entity it represents.

  The majority of graphic artists that are tapped for web design are from a print background. Their learned focus of design is based on an exact size of page being view in totality at all time. Each visual element in it is precisely spaced and tweaked for visual importance. As a result, the success of web designs done by print graphic designers is ultimately at the mercy of the web graphics person who "webizes" the graphic elements, the coders and the content writers in the design layout of the "page" and interactive functionality. This is why my strong technical (hardware and software) and coding knowledge, combined with years of authoring in the hypertext literary style, makes me much more strongly qualified to handle web and interactive multimedia design projects than the majority of designers currently in the job market.  

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RE: Architect vs. Programming Engineer

If people have projects where the look and feel to the user, the efficient functional flow, and easy expansion with future growth is important, they emphatically need someone like me in charge of the project and someone who is a programmer code writer.

A parallel would be the integrated symbiotic relationship between the building architect and the building contractor.

Like a building architect, I am able to gather information from a wide and disparate range of sources, integrate seemingly unrelated needs, aesthetic, practical and technical, and come up with a whole structure that will facilitate the functionality and flow and interrelationship of all those elements; and then put it into a presentational format that can be understood by all involved and used as a blueprint for the realization of the project.

Like a building architect, I am capable of technically realizing the project, but I am much more valuable staying in charge of the artistic vision, concentrating on being the team leader and the liaison with the client.

Stephanie Schoelzel
© December 20, 1998

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