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Head of UX Design at Scott Logic Joined about 5 years ago
I believe it's because most places don't have the capacity or existing designers to provide the support a junior designer needs to grow. They need people they can throw straight in at the deep end, but the supply currently doesn't meet the demand.
It's specifically because of this that we're taking a longer term view at Scott Logic and have a graduate programme (of sorts) to pick up the best junior designers and grow them into the big hitters we need. It's frustrating that other places who do exactly this for developers and other roles aren't trying to do it for designers.
I head up the design team at Scott Logic, a UK-based software consultancy working primarily in financial services. I've worked on a whole range of systems from institutional single dealer platforms to consumer-facing robo-advice for investment management to analytics and research tools.
I'd second nearly everything that has already been said here. It's a unique world that requires it's own variation of design approach and culturally it's a very different world to most other enterprises (for good, bad and frustrating reasons).
Fiction: The Southern Reach trilogy Non-Fiction: Well Designed by John Koko
I doubt it to be honest. My interest in LayerVault was always the syncing and versioning first and foremost. The commenting, etc was a nice extra, but made the tool too broad in my opinion.
Version control and code review are generally related but distinct tools for coders. I think that separation of concerns makes for better, more focused tools.
The Dropbox acquisition of Pixelapse suggests their long-term strengths will be on the version control side of things, which is what I'm after.
Pixelapse is $15 per designer per month. That's what I've switched my team to trialling for now. So far it all seems pretty good really. The desktop syncing client seems a lot faster, more reliable and stable than LayerVault's. There are some differences but no deal breakers we've found yet.
A nice new piece about this by Paul Boag: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/12/30/designing-with-your-clients/
I've found a structured sketching/ideation session can be an invaluable way to better understand your clients, their needs/desires/ideas and open up useful dialog whilst having them feel involved in the process. As long as you set expectations at the beginning of the session that it is just ideation then no feelings should be hurt if/when your end results don't look like their sketches. Structuring the session suitably is also key. For example, pick the most pertinent screen or user flow and do sketching ideation exercises for it.
I would recommend installing the Express Edition of Visual Studio (it's free). It includes a visual app designer with the standard WPF components. It'll give you a good idea of what is standard (and easy for devs) as well as the fairly extensive styling customisation.
There is a good chance your client has some 3rd party components they use alongside the standard set. It'd be worth finding out what they are in case they open up some interesting new avenues.
In general I'd recommend using the standard components to guide your layouts and interactions, but WPF does let devs deviate from the standards more than the older .NET technologies so don't feel you need to stick rigidly to them.
Also remember that you're designing Windows desktop application, not a website or mobile app, so it's possibly a slightly different mindset to the one you are maybe used to.
I'd recommend checking out Loughborough Design School (part of the university).
UX Designer at Scott Logic in Edinburgh, UK. We're a software development consultancy working primarily in financial services and energy trading but also making in-roads into public sector, healthcare and oil & gas.
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