User Interface Design

Whether you call it user experience, user interface or user interaction, the important thing is that your software does what the user needs it to do and is designed in such a way that the user can figure out how to use it. Make sure your users are getting (and finding) the features they need.

I’ve done software design and review for trucking and logistics, convenience store management, handheld touchscreen PDA applications, programming tools, and a web site creation package. To get an idea of how I work, you can read some user interface design articles.

Some User Interface Clients

Bear River had me design the user interface and build an HTML prototype for a set of role-based web applications that added a security layer to an existing handheld package tracking system. Governmental security requirements included visit requests, vehicle entry/exit, multiple vehicle and materials inspections,  and real-time tracking of both vehicle and materials status. At the completion of this project, Paul Wise, the project manager, wrote “I could not have been happier with … the final product that she produced… I look forward to working with Ellen in the future as our needs arise.” Read the whole quote >>>

Intuit wanted to develop a new database-driven subsite to allow their Pro Advisers group to search and browse for third-party software applications which work with QuickBooks. The challenge was to maintain the Intuit look-and-feel while giving this sub-site enough personality to stand out. The “home” page of this subsite adds a mini-navigation bar allowing users to jump to the forums for questions, browse by category or industry, or search on keywords. The wireframes were developed in Visio, with pages mocked up in HTML.

VA Software (now SourceForge) needed to redesign SourceForge Enterprise Edition,a web application that provides a rich set of tools including code management, developer management and knowledge management, to improve the usability and add many new features. Working with team members in Fremont and in India, I redesigned their document manager, monitoring, forums, file release, and news tools as well as navigation and project home pages for two different versions. Upon completion of the project, John Sullivan wrote  “Ellen is a pleasure to work with – she combines a flair for visual design with a flexible approach and impressive work ethic.”

For Pitt Ohio Express, I did the UI design for many different client-server applications, including inbound planning, pickup and delivery data entry, various reporting packages, claims tracking, and exceptions tracking. I redesigned several existing applications as well, to offer improved usability. The Exception and Claims Tracking application led Lois Beggs to write:  “Ellen designed an interface that was very simple and extremely user friendly. Employees responded very positively to it. […] Consequences of the interface have led to total conformance by the users, accurate and timely reports for our customers, and applicable information for corrective actions in operations. Ellen enabled us to easily hurdle resistance to change and exceed our customers expectations.”

CS:Critique and Sprezzatura worked together to design a client-server application to manage convenience stores. This included inventory, vendors, special pricing, reporting, sales tax, and so forth. The back office side integrated with touchscreen cash registers and fuel pumps and included inventory management, time sheets, pricing, and other store management functions.

User Interface Reviews

Initially brought into review AltoWeb’s AltoStudio GUI by Marketing, I continued working with the Engineering team through several versions, helping with both UI and documentation of both the AltoStudio and AltoServer products. Jane McKean wrote “Ellen’s suggestions and observations helped us to consistently upgrade the quality and content of both the information and presentation. Ellen pitched in as a technical writer to help with both online and printed docs, drawing on her UI expertise to help us improve the end-user experience.”

Prior to Ixla releasing their web creation application WebEasy, which was a finalist in PC Week’s Best of Comdex, I did a user interface review of the existing application and made recommendations for changes that could be made prior to release, as well as considerations for the next version. Craig Harper, director of Product Marketing for Ixla wrote “Ellen is not only a professional in the way she manages a project, but is one of those rare “realists” who seem to be able to estimate a project and the time it will take, and typically delivers on schedule or ahead of schedule.”

Software Requirements

Working with a local consulting firm, I researched many different applications for a large LTL trucking company, Pitt Ohio Express, back in Pittsburgh, PA. Some of the applications included reconfiguring the queue formula for data entry workflow based on where freight was and when it was due, documenting regulatory and other requirements for claims filed and paid, and tracking exceptions. Upon completion of a Pickup and Delivery application, the president Charles Hammel wrote “Your management of the process of measuring driver and customer productivity and performance is valued. You worked diligently and presented a good program. You were easy to deal with and made every effort to resolve problems that were encountered along the way. Your hard work and efforts on the project are appreciated.”