Contextual Design (Contextual inqury & affinity diagramming)
Qualitative tests (in-person studies)
I worked at Qualcomm from 2004-2011. Qualcomm's chipsets power mobile phones around the world. As a "Human Factors Engineer", my projects initially were focused on BREW OS apps (think of it like Android OS apps). I designed core apps like the Main Menu, or the Alarm Clock. More technical apps like Phone, or Contacts, required me reading and comprehending technical specifications from the 3GPP Consortium to figure out the appropriate behavior to design (e.g. how to handle multi-party phone calls, how to read data from a SIM card).
At one point I was even part of an experimental product to help non-developers code in a language called TrigML. Below is a video of my implementation of re-arranging apps in the Main Menu.
However, I spent most of my time defining flows for various apps and writing UI specification documents in rigorous detail. Below is a screenshot of one of the pages from the Contacts doc, which required over 100 pages to describe all the screens and behavior.
I was awarded a patent for my design of syncing contacts between the phone and the SIM card.
Later on in my career I worked on SDK Tools (PC apps developers would use to make mobile apps). This also required a lot of technical knowledge, and the end users were also technical themselves. To even figure out what our requirements should be, we began with research. The research phase spanned two months, which involved flying around the U.S. to interview customers, followed by building an affinity diagram to synthesize all the data.
As a result of the research, one of the products that emerged was Target Manager. We had observed how developers managed deploying and testing apps on numerous phone models, and Target Manager would help to simplify this process. Below is an initial wireframe.
Once the design was more solidified, I created a UI specification document to describe Target Manager.
In addition, the UX team pushed the boundaries of what developer apps should look like, beyond the drab gray windows and dialogs that were the industry convention. Why can't developers have pretty things too?
At Qualcomm, I learned:
- to design for screens that were as small at 64x64px
- to write well, explaining difficult concepts with meticulou detail while retaining clarity
- to work in an engineering-centric environment, where I distilled technical requirements and jargon into usable interfaces
- to design for consumers, as well as engineers
I'm grateful to have begun my career at Qualcomm, where I learned about the mobile domain from its roots.