Anyone have any recommendations of firms that do UI makeovers? What could I get for around $5,000?
May 3, 2004 5:48 AM   Subscribe

UI design question -- I have a Windows application, basically a frontend to a database, whose interface has mututated over the years, through various "enhancements," to the point that it's almost unusable by the non-technical people for whom it exists. Anyone have any recommendations of firms that do UI makeovers? What could I get for around $5,000?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
I'd suggest emailing a few respected web design studios that do similar work on the web and see who they recommend. 37 Signals comes to mind off the top of my head.
posted by will at 7:34 AM on May 3, 2004

As a programmer who does a lot of UI work, the question you've asked is basically unanswerable given the parameters defined.

Are you looking for local workers? Call consulting firms in the area and see if they have anyone. If you live in a larger city, perhaps try craiglist. $5,000 for a decent contractor should get you about 2-3 weeks worth of work. Whether or not what you want can be accomplished in that time frame is unknown.
posted by patrickje at 9:59 AM on May 3, 2004

I have experience of the kind of UI refactoring I suspect you're describing. In general, there's basically two approaches to the problem:

i) Employ a good UI programmer to do a quick and dirty clean-up job, based on whatever you can tell them about the problem domain and the business rules of the system, and hope you get somewhere better than where you started.

Or, ii) Employ an analyst to consult with you and produce a prototype of a refactored interface. This might be based upon elaborating the use cases(s) of the system and producing specifications using process-flow diagramming techniques (e.g. UML activity diagrams, sequence diagrams or flowcharts) and the application of known conventions and UI design approaches appropriate to the system users and environment.

In practice, especially with legacy systems, it's usually a blend of both the heuristic and analytical. ii) is more expensive than i), but also much more likely to deliver a long-term solution and may have other benefits for your organization. Neither approach is 'correct'. It all depends upon the complexity of the system, your time and budget resources, and organizational priorities.

In either case, unless you've already got a very clear idea of the end result you're seeking and it's not a complex application, $5000 might not get you as far as you might like.
posted by normy at 10:45 AM on May 3, 2004

$5000 gets you about 40-60 hours of work from a competent software engineer (at least that's what it would come out to be if I were charging), and you had better have a good idea of what you want ahead of time, because otherwise you'll get what your contractor decides which seems to be how you got where you are in the first place.

Depending on the complexity of the application, 40-60 hours of work will give you a decent enough prototype of a moderately complicated application which has a lot of polishing to do.
posted by plinth at 4:09 PM on May 3, 2004

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