My Passion for Inclusive Design
Learning and Mentoring
Back when the world wide web was just getting started, a scruffy architecture student was trying to understand how he might make an impact in this world. I loved working on the main frame, designing the models for people and trees, and doing ok on the buildings, but I was always fascinated with the building blocks more than the final structure. At about the same time, the architectural firm I worked for went from being one of the strongest in the valley to experiencing some difficulty in the early 1990 recession. I started worrying about job stability and growth opportunities. I started looking into more of the computer side of the equation.
I got a job doing tech support for a large dial-up organization, and while I was working there, they asked if I would be interested in designing a page as a backdrop to their new chat interface. It never went anywhere, but that was my first experience understanding how individuals might want to interact with their computers. I knew that people did, but I hadn’t thought about it as a design opportunity until that moment. I eventually moved up in tech support until I found a job for a scheduling company called Primavera Systems. They do project management (they are now a part of Oracle), and while I was doing tech support for their lighter-weight scheduling package, they asked me if I wanted to try designing a wizard. Wizards were all the rage, and this was my first opportunity to break out of support into a position I felt would utilize some of my talents that tech support didn’t.
I did become a full-time designer at Primavera Systems and worked closely with some very talented designers. David Bishop was my first mentor of several, and I was off to the races. I will always be grateful for the time that I spent working there. I eventually became the designer for one of their web products, a product well ahead of its time, and started trying to understand how the web could change peoples’ lives. I took classes from designers like Edward Tufte, Jared Spool, and Jakob Nielson. I got involved with SIG-CHI and helped moderate their mailing list.