Help Us Up Our Web Design Game
May 28, 2012 7:11 AM   Subscribe

How to find & assess a Responsive Design consultant.

My company is looking to up its web design game. Right now, most of our web design is done by designers who have informal or slightly outdated web design experience. This tends to mean we produce designs that don't look modern won't function responsively. After some internal discussion we're looking into the possibility of bringing in someone to workshop with us, to help our designers get to a point where they can create designs that work responsively. Ultimately we need to be able to deliver designs that not only work on mobile (phone or tablet, & yes I know they need to be treated differently) & desktop devices, but that have a UX optimized for their media type.

I've been tasked with finding prospects for this gig, and I'm still casting about for the best way to approach that. My thinking is that we need someone who can do hands-on with our designers (not someone who's been in a management or CD role so long they rarely use the tools anymore), but other than that I'm struggling with how and where to locate such a person.

What I'm looking for is suggestions for how to find someone (or some company) that can do this kind of training or workshopping with us. Unless it's someone in our town (Rochester, NY), we can't really spare the time off from production to send people more than an hour or so away for training, so it would probably mean bringing someone to us, rather than going to workshops. (That said, if you know of some good workshops, don't hesitate to suggest them. Plans can change.)

Also, what do folks think of online workshops, either self-led or interactive? And if your view is favorable, recommendations?

Background on skill levels: We'd be looking at two to three participants:
  1. An AD with many years experience in print, who has designed websites, but has virtually no knowledge of HTML or CSS.
  2. An AD/illustrator with somewhat dated web skills, but who can understand concepts better than [1].
  3. [Possibly:] CD who's designed a number of websites, but has very little experience with HTML & CSS.
  4. Myself, a web developer with no particular design experience but about 15 years building websites. I have buzzword compliance & self-taught experience with implementing responsive design, but haven't fielded a production website that's truly responsive, yet.
At least for the moment, bringing someone in from out of town is on the table.

Also, should make it clear that there is some resistance to the ideas of designing to grids and of wireframing. We're trying to talk about wireframing in terms of content mapping a la Ethan Marcotte et al (I think that's the term they use), but aren't sure that's helping yet.
posted by lodurr to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
MeFi Jobs, maybe?
posted by backwards guitar at 8:16 AM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: Are you thinking, posting this as a proposed job? Is that even acceptable use?
posted by lodurr at 8:23 AM on May 28, 2012

Yes, I've seen short term gigs and projects advertised on Jobs
posted by infini at 8:24 AM on May 28, 2012

I've seen this responsive web design conference/road show floating around. Columbus isn't too far from Roc, and it looks like Pittsburgh is the next highest vote-getter, and that's even closer. It's definitely more than your one hour requirement, but it seems like this would be exactly what you're looking for. (Although if you want to start a campaign to bring them to Buffalo or Rochester, I'd happily drum up the troops in the 716).

I'd pitch myself, but I'm big into grids... so there would probably be a bit of a clash there ;-)
posted by cvp at 8:53 AM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Responsive is something of a buzzword and fad, so you need to define exactly what you mean. The truth might be that the fundamental assumption of responsive design - the same view for multiple user agents/screens/resolutions - is flawed.

But never mind responsive design - you seem to have major issues related to change management. If you don't deal with these things first, there's a risk that a consultant won't be able to transfer their knowledge or that the new ideas are never fully implemented. Do you know why your colleagues are resisting grid design and the usage of wireframes? Start here. Personally, I'm baffled by this as any other way of designing sites is completely alien to me.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:59 AM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: Foci, I understand what you're saying about change management. Sometimes you have to deal with problems as you can. Idealism can be counter-productive, especially when you have lots of other growth issues to attack at the same time.

As far as what's meant by 'Responsive design', I'm not really interested in getting into a debate over that. If I can find a field of consultants, teachers, vendors, what have you, that are willing to workshop in something they call 'responsive design', I will be willing to add them to the initial consideration set.
posted by lodurr at 9:52 AM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: A correspondent made the following recommendations, that I'll repost here as thread content for future references and by way of example:

This guy [] looks like he's worth sounding out. I'll get in touch with him.

Luke Wroblewski [] has a lot of experience, does private consulting, and exemplifies that spirit that I and my compatriots in this effort are trying to instill -- but he's too rich for our blood, I'm sure. However, I am reliably informed that he will respond to well-crafted queries for referrals.
posted by lodurr at 9:59 AM on May 28, 2012

Response by poster: CVP, that road show probably doesn't really address our needs (I'd get a lot out of it, but not sure our designers would without substantial post-workshop-workshopping), but since I would love to see it come to WNY I'll request Buffalo and pass the word among my Rochester/Buffalo contacts. Buffalo will definitely be more likely to generate votes than Rochester.
posted by lodurr at 10:01 AM on May 28, 2012

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