My focus on storytelling led to a powerful realization: intensions do not matter if your audience doesn’t get the story you are trying to tell. They may be distracted by their environment, or don’t see colors the way you do, or just don’t care about what you are saying. You must try to see and understand the world from their point-of-view. Understand their needs and they will pay attention and benefit from what you have to offer.

User interface design for large data-driven web applications has presented the perfect opportunity to put this idea to work. Each of these projects began with extensive research into the target audience, then working very closely with back-end developers and database administrators to produce solutions.

Intel’s Computer Clubhouse interface design and front-end development (Intel)

Intel's Computer Clubhouse UI mock up

Client goal: Create a content management system to allow kids in Boys & Girls Clubs around the world to collaborate on, and share creative projects.

My role was to map out the system, create wireframes for each screen, work with team of developers located in China to implement the designs, then conduct field research to improve the usability of the interface based on observations.

We launched at the flagship clubhouse at the Boston Museum of Science and 50 locations worldwide. Today the program continues to grow.

Court Record Management System front end design and development (nSPARC – Mississippi State University)

Court Record Management System - wireframe - add civil case

Client Goal: create a system to manage digitized documents from all county-level courts that is modular and customizable to allow for use in various counties and states.

My role was to design the front-end of the web application. This involved detailed interviews with clerks from each court helping us break with our assumptions of how to create an efficient interface. For example, we learned that data-entry clerks don’t ever want to take their fingers off the keyboard; dragging and clicking a mouse is unacceptable!

Through many iterations and testing we finally got enthusiastic buy-in from the clerks and the system rolled out to seven counties across the state.

Court Record Management System - Information Architecture - accounting workflow diagram
Court Record Management System – Information Architecture – accounting workflow diagram

Oktibbeha County website redesign (nSPARC – Mississippi State University)

Oktibbeha County website - wireframe - department page

Client Goal: Create a new county website built on a content management platform allowing each department to update content.

I served as the project lead including UX research, design, development, and deployment. The project began with interviews of every department in the county to assess their needs and how best to connect citizens with their services. A vital piece of the redesign was the Information Architecture. I created a taxonomy of all departments and services based on the needs of various target audiences making the site simple to navigate.

The site was launched on schedule. The part I am most proud of is the Chancery Clerk page where citizens of the county can finally get up-to-date information about voter registration and current elections.

Mississippi Lifetracks longitudinal data system UI design and development (nSPARC – Mississippi State University)

Mississippi Lifetracks - user interface sketch

Client Goal: create a relational database to connect state agencies in order to track progress of populations from early childhood through to the workforce and grant access to policy makers and the public to help them make better decisions about education.

I served as the lead UX/UI designer on this project. We began by traveling the state conducting interviews with every department contributing or making use of data in the system.

The scope of the project was vast and the goals of some of the stakeholders were contradictory to one another. I created hundreds of wireframes to demonstrate how the interface would function. I then worked closely with back-end developers and database administrators to develop the front end along with a graphics designer.

The project launched on schedule and was an important first step in opening up the state’s data to the public.

Mississippi Extension Service website redesign (Mississippi State University Agricultural Communications)

Extension Service IA research - taxonomy

Client Goal: increase awareness of the Extension Service throughout the state with a website redesign.

In Mississippi, the Extension Service is a collection of various university departments, research centers, and county offices. When asked to explain what the service is, it was difficult to get the same answer from anyone inside the organization, much less from the public, so first step was to research every department and service and create a taxonomy that the public would understand.

I was the lead on this project which included information architecture, UX research, presentation of findings, wireframes, working prototype, and development of a content management system (Drupal) to function on top of an existing database.

Next: IV. UX Design in the “Real” World