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Start as a freelance interface designer?

Hi! I know how to code but not very well. But I know very well how to design a good interface (be it for the web or for a desktop app). Do you think there is a market for an interface designer? Judging from most commercial software, there should be.

I think most bigger companies already have such people and smaller ISVs don't have the money for a dedicated interface designer (although they should).

But how would you start this business? And is it feasible to do this as a freelancer?

Thanks in advance!
Monday, October 04, 2004
Personally, from most of the developers I know, I suspect that you'd have to insert yourself in the process as a sort of "agent for the client" and be a partner of the developer.

We have one graphics guy on our team and we work beautifully together.  When I'm starting out on something, I go to him and spend 2 minutes giving him an overview of client, the application, the purpose, etc.  I leave him alone for 2-3 days and work on reuqirements and the beginning code and then come back to him.

Normally by then, he has a beta user interface that is incredibly polished in some areas and rough in others.  I take this, update him with whatever changes have/are coming and then repeat.  After 2-4 iterations, my code is integrated with his interface and there's been very little toe-stepping.

The key is regular communication and both sides knowing the goals.
KC Send private email
Monday, October 04, 2004
Wow! This guy must be a magician. How does he know from those two minutes what you are going to design? Especially since you don't appear to involve him in the requirements process?
Practical Geezer
Monday, October 04, 2004
Personally I think you are onto something.

When I'm doing an app I focus on the data model. I create a data structure in whatever language I'm using to store as many attributes of the data as I can think of, e.g., firstname = lablel=> First Name, dblength => '30', htmlength=>25 (maxlengthis always dblength),required=>1 (this can depend on context though) validate=>1 (where something like phone is not required but if a value exists then validate) ... etc. etc .

It can get involved. From such a datamodel I build my tables and forms. I also then use this same datamodel in my application to handle error messages so when I saw a form field is missing I describe the field as it is described in the form, ... of course I always generate javascript on the fly to validate a form yet of course still do server-side validation. I also always use a template system such as HTML::Template or TT in Perl or Smarty in PHP so the form is regenerated with indications in the form where required fields exist.

So, as the programmer I know the screens which I will use to capture the data I need. However, rarely do I ever create a good interface albeit it's usually better than the people who are supposed to do that job since the idea of pointing out in the form where data is missing or invalid was news to them when I did it. Most interface designers I work with only care about colors ... it would be nice to have someone who cared about the user ... but I think you would need the complete datamodel and goals of the site as a whole.
Monday, October 04, 2004
"Judging from most commercial software, there should be."

There is your answer. Most commercial software places $0 value on the useability.

Telling people how they should do thier job: great work if you can get it :-)

I could redesign lots of programs to be easier to use. The only person who'd listen is my competitor. They are probably  the only company I'd have credibility with.
Mr. Analogy {Shrinkwrap ISV owner} Send private email
Monday, October 04, 2004

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