Looking for a freelance UX + front-end developer

We are looking for a freelance UX/front-end developer to be our go-to contractor for the foreseeable future.

Inquirium is a three-person company celebrating our 10th anniversary successfully designing and developing educational software and web applications for museums, zoos, schools, and other non-profits.

We’re looking for a freelance visual designer with HTML and CSS skills who can help us design and build the front-end web interfaces for several of our projects. This has the potential to be an extended gig.

Here’s who we’re looking for:

You enjoy iterative design and working in small teams. At the same time, you can work independently, stay on schedule, and don’t need a lot of hand holding to get the job done. And you have a great eye for clean, crisp, visual design.

And you probably can’t decide if you’re a designer or a developer.

If you were working for us, here are some of the things you would have done last month:

  • Helped us create an HTML5/CSS3/jQuery mockup, based on pencil sketches, of a web tool that helps students make sense of literature.
  • Sat in on a weekly client Skype call to discuss their UX needs for a custom web app we’re building to allow clients to make sense of large research survey data sets.
  • Prototyped a pixel-perfect visual design for a revised company product site.

And here are some things you would do in the next month:

  • Create a series of drawings for a proposed skin to an alpha-stage custom web app that helps teachers visualize data on student achievement, engage in a round of internal feedback, then engage in a round of client feedback.
  • Help refine an existing UX for another client web app; put in place a front-end development framework drawing on tools like jQuery, SASS, and Coffeescript.
  • Brainstorm ideas for a revamp of our company website, do some preliminary sketches.

Required skills:

  • A willingness and ability to be a jack of all trades, wear many hats, learn new skills, and do whatever needs to be done.
  • Photoshop (and Illustrator) and a sketchbook are your friends and constant companions.
  • You should be familiar with the concepts of progressive enhancement, graceful degradation, and responsive design.
  • You should be familiar with the capabilities and limitations of HTML5 and CSS3. Extra credit if you know SASS, jQuery, and Javascript. Double word score if you’ve worked with Django templates or another templating system. Triple word score if you are familiar with SEO strategies.
  • You should be familiar with version control software. We use hg and git.
  • The job can be tailored to fit your strongest skill set, but a visual designer’s eye is an absolute must.

Experience is important. We’re looking for someone who can hit the ground running and make an immediate contribution to our active projects. This is not a good fit for someone looking for on-the-job training.

Another thing that’s important is your ability to work and communicate remotely with folks in different time zones. Our home offices span three cities, and we rely heavily on online tools for talking, sharing design materials, and providing feedback. Our approach is to schedule a meeting, send an artifact ahead of time with specific feedback requests, meet to discuss, then work independently on follow-up action items.

If you’re interested in this job, convince us that you’re the one!

ICLS 2010 iPhone App Released

We just released our first iPhone App: A conference guide to the upcoming International Conference of the Learning Sciences in Chicago.

It’s available directly from the App store. Just search on ‘icls’.

You can also visit our ICLS App web page.

It has all the features you’d expect from a conference app:

  • program guide
  • maps
  • a way to favorite sessions
  • search

And a few nifty features:

  • Off-line browsing — Set your conference schedule on the airplane! No network necessary.
  • Abstracts — Even if you’re not going to the conference, you might find it interesting to browse the app to see what’s being presented. Where available, we have included abstracts.
  • Social Media — Easy links to Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. Use #icls to add your update to the stream!

We developed it in close coordination with the conference organizers, so it’s about as up to date and accurate as you can possibly get. (The program is actually still being updated as I type, so we hope to get in one round of updates before the conference.)

If all goes well, we’ll set our sights on AERA 2011!

Take a Stand & the Youth Exhibition Dedication at the Illinois Holocaust Museum

The IL Holocaust Museum dedicated their youth space this last weekend. We finally got a bit more coverage than we had in the past by the Pioneer Press. An excerpt:

“So here on a Sunday afternoon were the invited guests to the dedication, many of whom brought children and grandchildren to experience the offerings in this unique space. State-of-the-art technology is reflected in familiar computer screens as well as a not-so-familiar movie theater-size screen in a separate room. The all-enveloping screen is a part of an exercise that allows children to take on the role of frogs and make important decisions along their journey.

Still, even with technology that would rival the best of Nintendo and X-Box games, it would be a serious mistake to suggest that the exhibit serves simply as another venue for children to play with computer toys.

“The space we’re dedicating today is not a game room,” Harvey Miller said. “It is not a demonstration of the latest computer graphics. It is not a space for relaxation and resting. It is a teaching experience. It is meant to help provide the skills that parents, teachers, caregivers and the children themselves need in order to understand and use the lessons of the Holocaust. “

So it’s great to hear that our technology wowed the reporter. But I’m really glad Harvey Miller (the donor) was there to set the record straight.

The exhibit is admittedly hard to pin down in words.  Even docents can have a hard time with it. On the surface, it looks and feels like a video game: you control characters on a screen, you have some goal that you’re trying to achieve in the space (catching flies), and you have a score that tells you how well you’re doing.  But our goal was to deliberately use people’s expectations against them.  And not so much “teach” per se, but to provide a touchstone experience that could spark conversations about the universal lessons of the holocaust.

Now that the exhibit is open and I have a little more time, I hope to spend the next few weeks relaying some design stories from our experience.