Wireframes – MockingBird

in the never-ending quest for wireframing tools i have found my perfect match. mocking bird and me, we will go a long way :)
i have been using this nifty online tool for sometime now and must say i’m still to find any shortcomings*. it seems perfect. a beautifully intuitive interface, a library of ready made elements, recently added colour options, resizable canvas size, the cross-linking – it’s all there. it’s easy to share with clients by sending them a link to interactive ‘front-end’ version.
in a recent b2b project it proved to be the life saver between us trying to determine information logic and the client trying to explain to us the way product pricing should work. i don’t have to tell anyone that wireframes make it easier to walk the client through how things will work, but it’s also easy to then add notes and use it as navigation for developement. what more could you want? well – it’s free. i hope it remains so or at least the price is reasonable when it comes out of beta.
go mockingbird!

*it currently doesn’t work in IE so when sending to clients you have to make sure they can view it in FF, Safari, Opera etc..

What do you do?

@leemunroe asked today:

Quick question for web designers: When someone asks you “What do you do?” what is your reply? e.g. web designer, ux designer, webmaster…

I see a lot of buzz online about this recently..

For some time the ‘online world building business’, as I call it, has been getting more complicated  and developing into more disctinct specialisms. But..

On one side there are clients and for most this is all quite too complicated. Most clients, not all of course, still end up with the inevitable ‘so you design websites, right?’

The other side – the industry, seems to be asking the question now too. Personally, i don’t think any of the online jobs can, and do, exist in a vacuum: they are all interlinked and to be an expert in one you need solid knowledge of the others. I usually describe what I do as ‘user experience design’. But that is sometimes down to the project I work on, depending on the size and extensity I act as the designer + information architect + project manager in one. If the project is more advanced you need to fill in all those roles separately, but they are intertwined and all of these experts will interact and influence each other. Moreover, having knowledge in all web production areas definitely helps in becoming better at your specialism. Great article about Homo Universalis here.


finally found a great time tracking app: klok is here to stay, i say!
i have tested quite a few applications and the only other one i could recommend is Time Tracking – great application AIR based as well, but i needed to add my projects and clients via the browser, which added too much hassle to the whole thing.
now klok seems very intuitive, straightforward to use and although it’s still in beta, it already feels like a very well thought out application. it’s an AIR app so sits quietly on my screen and works across operating systems as well. i’ll be trying it out now so watch this space!

A sense of non-commitment – or is it?

In recent post Andy Rutledge writes:

I’m talking specifically about actively displaying clearly conflicting loyalties in our professional practice; e.g.: being employed by XYZ Corp. as a Web designer and operating and promoting one’s own Acme Designz on the side. This practice smacks of irresponsibility and non-commitment. It reflects poorly on both the individual and the agency that employs him. Yet this is not an uncommon practice, even among otherwise respected and highly visible designers. Why?

I must say the article got me thinking. And as much as i’m hearing most of Andy’s arguments, and i actually agree with the perception side of the issue, i can’t help but wonder..

Firstly, a lot of webdesigners have freelance background – freelancers, collectives, companies. Then you get employed as an ‘interaction director’ or ‘senior producer’ and where do your previous clients go? You can either refer them to somebody else, or you can decide that you have built enough of the client relationship (and i mean in knowing the client’s product kind of way) to think you know what to recommend to the client. And while you remain clued in his projects you have the team to actually do the work in the collective/company so it does not require you to compromise your day job.

Secondly, websphere exists on weirdly timed employments, i know a company director, who is employed as an IA for two days a week by an US company and for another two days by a Swedish company. I guess it’s down to him to figure out how to manage his time not to fail anywhere and not to take too much projects on.

Another thing is, sometimes the company that hires you has a very narrow scope of activity and client base and they are not interested in expanding it, and they would actually encourage you to handle the projects out of their time. And i think it’s better if it’s done out in the open on agreed terms.

So all in all i think it’s a fairly complex issue. As i said i can’t disagree that a person who’s employed by one company and has a competitive business on the side looks to be of questionable integrity but at the same time, there might be few factors that you might not be aware of by looking at both.

just my 2p