Author Archives: admin

Apprenticeship Model for Success

One of my favorite examples of participant observation comes from Jack Whalen and colleagues at Xerox PARC. They were studying a call centre for photocopier repair, so these were people who field questions for technicians, and, over the telephone, help them work through troubleshooting broken photocopiers. Doing this over the phone can be extremely difficult. What Whalen and colleagues found was that, as you might expect, the most proficient person in this copier repair centre was the person who’d been there the longest. It was the skill that they’d built up over a period of time. What’s interesting is that the second most effective person at this repair centre was not the person who’d been there the second longest, but rather the person who’d sat next to the person who had been there the longest. What they realized was that, by sitting next to an expert, these repair technicians were able to pick up all of the informal skills of doing repair work that aren’t written down in manuals anywhere. And it’s this apprenticeship model that helped somebody really excel in their job.

Scott Klemmer
Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford University

Parallel Prototyping Leads to Better Design Results, More Divergence, and Increased Self-Efficacy

Stanford University

Iteration can help people improve ideas. It can also give rise to fixation, continuously refining one option without considering others. Does creating and receiving feedback on multiple prototypes in parallel, as opposed to serially, affect learning, self-efficacy, and design exploration? An experiment manipulated whether independent novice de-signers created graphic Web advertisements in parallel or in series. Serial participants received descriptive critique directly after each prototype. Parallel participants created multiple prototypes before receiving feedback. As measured by clickthrough data and expert ratings, ads created in the Parallel condition significantly outperformed those from the Serial condition. Moreover, independent raters found Parallel prototypes to be more diverse. Parallel participants also reported a larger increase in task-specific self-confidence. This article outlines a theoretical foundation for why parallel prototyping produces better design results and discusses the implications for design education.

Read the full paper


Interview with Paul Irish by Treehouse Friends

Paul Irish talks about how he got into Front End Development and projects he’s been involved with, like HTML5 Boilerplate.

Websites mentioned in this video:

  • HTML5 Boilerplate – “The web’s most popular front-end template”
  • HTML5 Please – “Look up HTML5, CSS3, etc features, know if they are ready for use, and if so find out how you should use them – with polyfills, fallbacks or as they are.”
  • Yeoman – “Our workflow is comprised of three tools for improving your productivity and satisfaction when building a web app: yo (the scaffolding tool), grunt (the build tool) and bower (for package management).”
  • Move the Web Forward – “You love web standards. You want to give back to the community. Curious about where to start? We’re here to help.”


Unique features:

  • jQuery animations while hovering and scrolling (Scrollorama)
  • Switchable content for articles and videos
  • Custom Twitter feeds that change with the switchable articles


Navigator Boxes

Navigator is one of SixDI’s consulting products. We developed a custom experience for Seton Healthcare Family that included articles, a D3js diagramming app to visualize their ecosystem, and a tree view of their ecosystem with info cards for each group and company.

My contributions to the development process:

  • Twitter integration
  • CSS styling for info cards
  • Navigation
  • Article and info card layout (using Isotope), text styling, and image layout
  • WordPress setup for articles, including image thumbnails and RSS feed customization
  • Researching D3js and choosing visualizations to use


StandUSA is built on WordPress and Bootstrap.

  • The front page features a slider with a custom design. Buttons shrink or stack for smaller devices.
  • Both navigation and content are responsive.
  • A custom number and category of most recent News posts are displayed on the home page.
  • The “StandUSA Is Following” section aggregates 6 random Thought Leaders and National Organizations.
  • Instructed article editors on how to use WordPress and provide content that follows best practices, including linking, permalinks, image types, sizes, and alignment; answered questions and provided QA
  • Designed the category structure in WordPress that the Facebook app uses through RSS

Last Ounce of Courage

I created an online store for the movie, Last Ounce of Courage, to sell DVDs, Blu-Rays, and church licenses. I worked directly with our client to meet all her requirements, from major features to design tweaks.

We had already built a site for Last Ounce of Courage on WordPress, so I researched WordPress e-commerce plugins to find a combination that would work.

The site required these features:

  • Taxes: Get current tax information based on shipping zip code (required an extra plugin and a spreadsheet of tax information)
  • Product Options and Pricing Tiers: Churches can purchase a small, medium, or large church license
  • Tax Exemption: Customers must specify whether they are tax exempt or not, and if so, they must provide their Tax ID
  • Affiliates: Provide a way to add affiliates, track their earnings, and easily pay them (required an extra plugin)
  • integration (required an extra plugin)
  • Assure that customers that purchase a church license understand they must email or mail the license agreement

One of our designers mocked up main store pages for DVD/Blu-Ray sales and church license sales, and I styled the store to match the mockups, which required CSS and subtheming store template PHP files.

Then I styled the rest of the checkout pages to match, and I made a few adjustments to the templates and settings, so the user experience would be simpler while still delivering the project on schedule.

Our client was pleased with the result, and I provided guidance on how to manage orders and affiliates.


Voter HQ

We delivered a voter information site for a client for the 2012 election, featuring social and news feeds powered by FeedMagnet and Isotope, comprehensive voter information for each state (from absentee ballots to past election results), editorial articles, thought leaders based around conservative values, congressional candidates, and national election candidates.

My responsibilities:

  • Editing the HTML based on mockup changes and styling with CSS/LESS
  • Using Django template tags
  • Enhancing the user experience with a manager, graphic designers, and other developers
  • Collaborating with a development team and content editors to pull the site together in a crunched time frame so the site could gain traction before the election