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Consulting Services (freelancing)

In 2017 due to life circumstances I went back to freelancing. Again. This time for longer period. Surprisingly this time appeared to be vibrant, dynamic and very interesting. Finding new contracts, meeting new people, discover insights about businesses, learn new designer tools and software. And the most important – how to place myself organically into organization, be a strategic asset, and bring a real value to their product. This is the art I am still learning, and it largely depends on how well I get in touch with others. It’s about mastering a skill to listen, the ability to tune my consciousness and my being to positive thinking, to leave ego driven “I want” at the door.

It’s time to learn something new about myself. What is per se immensely valuable. And I’m proud of this little achievement. I’m making myself useful to people again and again, I make their life easier. As soon as I start empathizing, the solution appears. Actually, this is exactly what they ask me for to help them with – to solve the problem with the product, problems of their customers, unpleasant moments when software product fails to address customer’s needs. In the end we all are in the same boat: client has a problem, means customer support is overwhelmed with tickets, means business has problems, and company management must resolve it. How? Through the turning the customer experience (UX) on to good positive track.

Process

I do this through constant communication and numerous iterations of proposed design solutions. Overall picture starts with customer journey and task flow. Usually on sheet of paper and pencil sketch first.

Pencil sketch of visual representation (UI) of the voice calls routing.

Pencil sketch of visual representation (UI) of the voice calls routing.

My clients know or sense they have issues with the functional flow, UI flow, or with screen layouts and visuals. They don’t have resources in the house to re-design it. Without allocating significant amount of time they introduce me into the product and ask me to identify bottlenecks (if unknown) and to come up with the design solution. Which I do. At the beginning I am observer, standing aside, watching the process and the people working with the product. I’m starting to get to the bottom of things, and using my skills and heuristic expertise, the right decision arises through a certain number of iterations.

McKinsey

McKinsey & Company introduced me to Concept Sprint. Which is essentially is their adaptation of Google Ventures Design Sprint. And it taught me a lesson: absolutely legitimate case in consulting industry, when there is a need of good UX with no GUI at all. Of course there is some CLI and command line involved, and even serious VB programming in Excel, but no in-house grown graphical user interface. Strange to hear these days, right? Well, yes, take away your impetuous desire to draw a screen layout. At the same time, no one repealed the work on the study of the persona and user journeys.

User Journey - BEFORE

User Journey – BEFORE

User Journey - AFTER

User Journey – AFTER

 

Other

Other gig started as a pure iPhone application project with online prototype in InVision cloud. Many screens. Then I did an analysis of business requirements. What technologies are used now, what needs to be added, what to remove, what resources may be needed in order the iOS application sees the light.

iPhone prototype links - Sketch screenshot

iPhone prototype screens with links in Sketch made for InVision

Pixel precise tune-up of WordPress theme and plugins with three different sources of css injection (tell me about WP architecture), which will be displayed properly on both mobile and desktops This job – walking on the verge of separating the design and engineering. But I have experience with installation and fine tune-up of WP. Why not?

Then the biggest client: the software company for coworking spaces. A good deal of UI, a lot of design solutions – extensively detailed.

Toolbox

Main design toolbox is Sketch, InVision, Principle, and Photoshop. Sketch is just a default desktop program, where I digitize my design solutions, creating task flow diagrams, usecases and scenarios, user journeys, UI flows, wireframes, mockups, icons, and simple clickable prototypes. InVision is the super-simple prototyping software imitating user actions, navigating between full screens or popups. In InVision I publish online clickable handoffs to share the ideas with product owners and developers.  Here is one example of the prototype I’ve made: New Member Setup Wizard. I should give an extra credit to Sketch, which is getting more and more robust, lately competing with InVision: it’s possible now to create clickable sets of screens with animated transitions and share them online on Sketch cloud.

A new feature on mobile design: loyalty points (Wells Fargo assignment)

A new feature on mobile design: loyalty points (Wells Fargo assignment). Example of what can be designed in an hour.

Principle for Mac is useful to demonstrate motions and animated actions, such as micro-interactions. Quick to learn, and good support of Sketch artboards through import feature. Watch this YouTube playlist of work-in-progress interactions (9 short videos, < 1 min), made with Principle for Mac.

Inline Delete user action demonstration (microinteraction) made with Principle for Mac.

Inline Delete user action demonstration (microinteraction) made with Principle for Mac.

Mastering the toolbox is important, however not a goal per se. Goal is to help people by turning their experience interacting with software products into emotionally good, productive and efficient. This is a hard one. Nevertheless this is what I keep in back of my mind all the time.

I dive into the details in the effort of seeing the value in every project I am involved into. My job is to deliver this value to both parties: to the end-users and to the business. To the customers of the business, who are end-users of the software applications or websites, and to the business, where usual goal is profit. Aligning these two values together is the definition of the success. Let me know about your project. I am interested to help you.