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!

Behind the scenes at Take a Stand

Dave Seah has a nice post up about Take a Stand, our exhibit in the recently opened Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Dave talks about some of the technical and design decisions behind the exhibit.

Our piece of it consists of a room that combines a motion-tracking system with a high-end PC running our custom software on a giant screen. The design of the system incorporates the lessons of the survivors with learning theory and open game play design; rather than spoon-feed morality, we’ve created a multi-player environment where kids can choose to mind their own business, help others, or be a bully.

Inquirium’s Matt Brown publishes book chapter on Teacher’s Use of Curriculum Materials

Inquirium’s Matt Brown wrote a chapter for a just released book on teachers’ use of classroom curriculum materials. The chapter is titled The Teacher-Tool Relationship: Theorizing the Design and Use of Curriculum Materials. Based on Matt’s dissertation (abstract as pdf), it examines the different ways teachers use curriculum materials in the course of their everyday practice (some rely on them as-is, some adapt them to suit their needs, and some use them as jumping off points for their own improvisations), and how designers can create materials that foster creative, dynamic teaching.  

The chapter frames teaching as a process of design, in which teachers use tools in various creative ways to realize their goals. Borrowing the metaphor of jazz, where musicians rely on sheet music but no two performances are alike, the chapter highlights both the common and unique processes by which teachers translate inert curriculum materials into dynamic practice.  The chapter’s key contribution is the concept of pedagogical design capacity, which calls attention to the skills by which teachers work with available resources as they craft instruction to suit their local needs.