Wherein I talk about design process

Serious designers have a strong sense of their own design process. They understand how to start from zero and develop ideas into something concrete that can then be validated and constructed by the team at large.

I subscribe to the idea that a design process is different from a development process. A design process is about creative problem solving. It is about arriving at a great design. A development process is about execution; efficient, quantifiable, execution.

To design an interface for a technical system, you follow some basic steps regardless of whether you are creating an innovative new product, or an incremental change to an existing solution.

Define Understand Create Document
Business Goals


Known Constraints

Audience Goals



Multiple Concepts

Validate > Redesign

Do it Again

Interactive Prototype

Annotated Wireframes

Interaction Flows

Here are a few questions I ask a lot and often when designing a new technology interface:
1. Who are we designing for, and do we know enough about them?
2. What are they doing/what do they want that our system is going to support?
3. How do we know when we (and they) are successful?
4. Is this the best solution we can make given the constraints?
5. Does everyone from stakeholders to project planners, to dev team understand the design; are we all on the same page?

If you’d like to discuss design methodology more, or see some examples of my work, please reach out.


Third Life: Your World, Beyond Your Imagination

Combining elements of spectacle, showmanship and irony to create a play space in Second Life that spoofs the promise of blurring the lines between reality and virtual reality.

Project Goal
The team sought to create the illusion of a new cutting-edge 3D environment even better than Second Life called Third Life. The idea was to create an emotional buildup, make the journey full of promise and excitement, ultimately leading to a nonevent. We referenced spectacle, showmanship, and irony throughout the space to convey the message of Third Life to potential victims. The pitch to potential suckers: “Third Life – so much more than Second Life you have to climb out of Second Life to see it.” (Think vintage Star Trek episode: “For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky”).

Created for Expressive Virtual Space, Spring 2008, Celia Pearce.
Team Members: Carol Bales, Michelle Kwasny, Evan Mandel, Bobby Schweizer, Puja Verma
This virtual space was demonstrated during Digital Media Demo Day in Spring, 2008.

My contribution: concept development, construction of the glass tower, construction of the avatar customization room

User testing to validate call center app improvements

Our team addressed several needs in this call center support application redesign effort. Call center representatives needed to be able to scan lots of information, then isolate a record to act upon without losing context. We needed to create simple terminology, unambiguous calls to action, and an updated, pleasant visual design.

Having designed a few versions of enhancements, we interviewed CSRs to determine their preferences. Our redesign effort resulted in new interaction design and UI design that reduced clicks for common interactions, and was easier for both novice and experienced CSRs to use.

Better CX through better search APIs

Among other things, Fiserv Biller Division provides biller search support for point of sale bill pay transactions for Walmart Money Centers, an entity that supports the underbanked population. Walmart identified the need to improve the search success in their biller search API. I attended an on-site visit to several Walmart Money Centers in Texas to observe the bill pay experience first hand. I then summarized findings, produced a task flow identifying a lengthy and cumbersome user experience, and eventually identified API search enhancements by studying a data sample of search requests.

Decision support for families

For this project, Brookdale Senior Living wanted a tool to help families make decisions about senior living solutions. Following a design research engagement with IDEO, Brookdale hired StellarX (my client) to design and prototype a customer support tool based upon IDEO’s initial findings, and additional requirements. I helped create a requirements document, then translated them into some high level UI concepts, then produced a sales engagement process flow, and a wireframe prototype. StellarX then developed a visually rich interactive prototype. I designed and executed usability testing in Tampa, FL and Alpharetta, GA, then performed analysis and made recommendations on both the Web and Mobile interfaces.