A decade of usability

Yikes, it's ten years today since the first real project I worked on (for money) produced its first real deliverable.

I was employed by Logica (now LogicaCMG) in Cambridge, but was working with a team of other usability folk from Logica, Admiral Consulting (now part of LogicaCMG themselves), Microsoft, GUI Designers and others at Reuters' now-defunct Usability Group just off Fleet Street in London.

With insufficient funding to build their own in-house team, Reuters' Greg Garrison decided to form a virtual team' of usability consultants from various companies, who could be called upon as they were required. The rest of the time, they would be back in their own offices, being paid by their own companies. (In practice, it didn't quite work like that; most of us were there 10 or 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, blowing the budget on a variety of wild ideas.)

And the deliverable? A multimedia extravaganza of usability examples, guidelines and icon libraries on CD-ROM, all produced in Macromedia Director, Microsoft Visual Basic, and Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop (all of which were at about Version 3 in those days). And burned on the office's own CD burner-- which cost about three grand, and took half an hour to burn a disc.

I can't say that the work was always a whole lot of fun... long hours, personality clashes, artistic differences and inter-company rivalry were never too far from the surface, and because the virtual team thing was considered innovative at the time, Greg was always trailing all sorts of media and BPR types around the office (and particularly the usability lab that was part of it) while you were trying to get your work done. But most of the stuff we did, and the CD-ROM itself, still stands up pretty well, I learned a whole lot from the people I was working with, and made some good friends. (The occasional spot of wild partying in London was a bonus, too...)

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I am an Interaction Designer in the Systems Experience Design team, arriving at Oracle via Sun where I've worked since 2000. I currently work on sysadmin user experience projects for Solaris. Formerly I worked on open source Solaris desktop projects such as GNOME, NWAM and IPS.

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