Our Client Work

Reactor works with the full range of companies - from sprawling Fortune 500 multinationals to prototypical Silicon Valley start-ups. Over the past 17 years we have designed leading edge solutions for system software, applications, and development tools on platforms ranging from workstations to PCs to the web and mobile devices. The following is a list of recent consulting clients along with a brief summary of the work performed. Please contact E D Reactor directly to request additional destails and (where permitted by the terms of our contract) view samples of the work.

 
   
 
 

Met with a small team of key Macromedia technology leaders to help determine the strategic direction of the Flash-based user experience. Led the articulation of a vision for next-generation internet applications that would transcend the limitations of web-based technology to provide a better user experience. Developed and authored a white paper on rich multimedia experiences that explained why we should expect the applications of the future to be seamless, focused, connected, aware. Presented this vision to an enthusiastic developer community at the 2004 Macromedia User Conference in Salt Lake City.

Download white paper

 
 

Created a set of design patterns for highly interactive rich internet applications based on Flash-based technology. Examples shown here illustrate the dynamic behavior and graphically enhanced presentation created to support field- and form-level validations. Evangelized these designs throughout the development organization and oversaw their implementation in the form of core elements that shipped as Flex 1.0, a new application delivery platform designed to support rich internet experiences with a high-level declarative programming model based on a dialect of XML.

 

 
     
 

Conducted an extensive review and classification of the major Yahoo! properties and made recommendations to support a common look and feel effort that attempted to unify the design of the various properties. Defined an extensive pattern language and created an HTML-based prototype for the eventual browsing system, which was ultimately implemented using an off the shelf publishing system. The pattern browser provided a framework in which knowledge covering all aspects of a component (basic concept, presentation, implementation, and testing) could be brought together for easy access by any team member.


 
 

Designed the Yahoo! Ad Creation Toolkit as a Windows client application for in-house (and eventually external) users. Given an insertion order for a specific advertiser, the tool allowed the user to assemble the artwork, scripting, and behavior for one or more banner ads and integrated with the scheduling system.. We handled the full conceptual, interaction, and presentation design, plus rapid prototyping in Visual Basic and usability testing of the resulting prototype with internal users. Sachin Shah and Eddie Chen contributed to this project as subcontractors.

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Synopsys Galileo Overview  

Conducted multiple design reviews and provided detailed conceptual and presentation design recommendations to Synopsys for their next-generation design automation tool (Galileo) that integrates logic design and physical circuit layout within the same produc . Developed a new product organization that brought all application functionality into two primary windows (and a series of pop-ups) with similarly organized menu systems. Created a Visual Basic prototype to validate the proposal. Also provided detailed visual design and production of final artwork for a comprehensive symbology used to and access the various commands.

 
 

Conducted informal design reviews and presentation design recommendations for a number of Synopsys products, including Chip Architect, a computer-aided design tool used in physical layout applications and SimGUI a new tool for addressing chip level performance issues via simulation, and an as-yet unreleased logic design tool.. Designed and produced several symbol sets and provided detailed visual design suggestions for increasing the readability of complex network diagrams.

 
     
Opsware NextGen Env  

Following several successful projects at Opsware, we were asked to lead the design effort for a next generation administration platform that would address the many structural shortcomings of the current product, which had originally been created as an in-house administration tool back in the days when the company (then Loudcloud) was not yet in the data center automation business. We created a simplified design that handled all managed elements through the generic abstractions of resources and configurations, both of which could be independently change-managed and version-controlled.

 

 

Our most challenging assignment (quite possibly our most challenging ever) was a role-based authentication system used to control access to arbitrary collections of resources under management for arbitrary users and groups. We created a model that took advantage of a naturally occuring and highly re-usable division of the available selection rules into roles that encapsulated a set of operations a person was qualified to perform and responsibilities that defined the administrative domains (and corresponding resoures) on which the person was authorized to perform them. This ran counter to the way most RBAC systems have been architected in the past but it mapped more naturally onto the way controls would be assigned in real data centers. Reusable role and responsibility definitions were created and maintained separately using the interface shown here (top) and then combined to generate the specific permissions required using a separate interface element (bottom) that allowed the proper combinations of roles and responsibilities to be assigned to a particular user or group to determine the specific operations they were able to perform on any given resource.

 

Opsware Sequence Adjust

 

Made minor modifications to an automated asset deployment system while converting the preliminary design to work with the standard Opsware wizard format (only the content portion of the wizard is shown at left). The most interesting innovation was a way (shown here) for users to alter the steps in a predefined sequence of operations using off-the-shelf GUI elements. The line items represent steps in the sequence. The green arrow and red stop sign mark the beginning and ending points of the sequence. Users can adjust these up or down by clicking the radio button in the corresponding vertical column. This allows the operator to restart a failed operation at the point just after (or stop it just before) the point of failure. Users could also click any intervening step to temporarily disable it.

 
  A minor request for usability enhancement resulted in a major breakthrough in list-based interaction design. The problem was managing selections that span more than one page in a multi-page listing for actions that cannot be invoked on a few items at a time. Our solution was to add a virtual "selection page" to the standard page navigator (which we also designed) that automatically picks up any selected items (left) when the user leaves the page (right). When present, the selection page is indicated by a bright yellow bar to the right of the page navigator (bottom) showing the number of items selected and providing both access to the selection page and a button by which the selection can be cleared.

 
     
 

Reactrix produces a unique interactive media space deployed in high traffic areas in malls, theaters, and national retailers. Advertising is projected onto the floor (or wall) and customers can interact with the projected imagery, which moves and responds when they reach or step into the display. E D Reactor was hired to help redesign the in-house tools used to manage, deploy, maintain, and operate their national network of installations (known, ironically enough, as "Reactors"), and top schedule, distribute, and run the software and media assets on which a particular advertisement depends. We interviewed the various user types and suggested changes to the conceptual model and overall product organization. Shown here is a page from a massive Visio prototype that documented the proposed design and served as a wireframe prototype for the new navigation model.

 
     
 

Designed a complete consumer application for a brand new Silicon Valley start-up providing a novel distribution model for full resolution, full quality digital video. MediaMelon will make both commercial productions and home/amateur content available through a web-based interface that allows users to browse the available programming, view and suscribe to various channels, and share videos with their friends, family, and associates using a variety of social networking mechanisms. In addition to the complete UI design, we provided advice on the product concept and positioning, including possible business models, we developed the logo and corporate identity (though not the company name!).

 
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FirstRain Screen  

We are nearing completion on our fourth project with FirstRain, a start-up providing business intelligence tools to the financial, pharmecuetical, and technology industries. The Analyst Workbench product provides access to large quantities of unstructured data by tracking and extracting sets of documents related to a certain topic. Our first project (shown her) was a major visual clean-up and restyling of the existing product following a simplification and rationalization of the previous navigation behavior. We restructured the displays to make better use of the high resolution monitors that prevail in these markets. We also shortened line lengths and removed competing elements to improve readability and designed a more readable set of function icons.

 
     
 

AirSentinel was a prospective start-up venture that never quite got off the ground due to a buy vs. build decision by their unnamed corporate sponsor that in the end did not go in their favor. The product was designed to monitor and maintain the security of wireless (wifi) networks. Its web-based interface (shown here) provided an elegant navigation model capable of scaling to handle the access points and workstation nodes for a large number of networks while retaining the ability to post warnings, alerts, and notifications to the user. We designed the company logo (shown here) in addition to the product's user interface.

 
     
 

Created interaction (navigation) and presentation design proposals for an administrative UI designed to let data center technicians monitor and adjust the configuration of the company's proprietary application acceleration tools ("condensors"). In addition to the monitoring screen shown here, we created textual and graphical reporting formats and a sophisticated boolean query interface. We did not participate in the implementation phase but our designs were a huge improvement over the existing "programmer art" and the enhanced user experience that resulted was a factor in the company's subsequent acquisition by Cisco Systems.

 
     
 

Conducted an extensive design review and created presentation design improvements for Abra Suite, a leading employee self-service benefits administration tool deployed in medium sized companies. The company (Best Software, now a subsidiary of Sage) was making their initial transition from a Windows client to a web-based interface. The basic flow and organization of the application was fine. We corrected a number of relatively minor design flaws and focused on improving the visual organization of the highly fragmented displays by introducing stronger background coloration to the peripheral navigation and header areas to allow the primary content to "pop out" as the brightest area of the display.

 
     
 

Completed the initial analysis and conceptual design (information architecture, site organization) for a web-based benefits administration service to be distributed by ClearBenefits through independent benefits agents to small and medium-sized companies. The product included different sets of capabiliteis for the agent (whose view spanned all the companies in his current client base), the HR manager (who saw everything there was to see, but only for their own company), the line manager (who saw everything "beneath" them in their organization), and the individual contributor (who saw only their own personal and general company policy info). Located a successful replacement designer for the client when they decided they wanted the final site design work to be completed in-house.

 
     

 

Developed a series of design concepts and wireframe prototypes for the photo sharing service recently acquired by HP. Snapfish is heavily focused on upselling prints and merchandise to its large base of subscribers, who pretty much get a free ride on the image hosting and print end of the service.. The business model requires a constant stream of new members recruited through appeals (such as the one shown here) by current members to their friends, family, and associates to come by and view their latest photos and albums online. The designs we created used eye-catching graphics, chirpy, inviting language, and brightly colored response buttons to tease the recipient into taking the bait. We also worked on the interaction design for a desktop client including a small message bar that floats above the system tray when activated (bottom) to support image acquisition and upload as well as downstream messaging from the service without the need for an open browser window.

 
     
 

MerchantCircle is yet another Silicon Valley startup attempting to cash in on the current social networking craze. They are building a network of local merchants who will use the tools they provide to cross-promote their businesses, expertise, and customer base to those of other merchants in the surrounding area. The idea is that, with the right kind of support the small mom and pop establishments that still survive in small town / downtown locations will be able to pool their expertise and compete more effectively with the big box megaretailers out there in exurbia. We created an initial set of page designs covering the merchant's "home" page, both before and after they registered with the service. We also proposed a fairly conventional interaction design to support viral propagation of the service via the usual social networking mechanisms. Darrel Sano collaborated on this project.

 
     
 

Reviewed Taleo's existing interaction designs for online candidate profiling (resume creation) and recommended a range of possible alternatives enabled by the emerging Web 2.0 technologies that have the potential for a richer interactive experience in a number of existing problem areas. Proposed novel solutions (left) for more accurately and reliably describing the job-related skills and experience a candidate actually possesses. More appropriate forms of representation have the potential to defeat the problem of keyword spamming in which candidates simply list all the skills they expect prospective employers to be looking for in hopes of simply making it to the interview.

 
     
  Consulted on hardware ergonomics and industrial design and created conceptual design and navigation system for a highly innovative universal remote control system based on ThinkOptics' proprietary 6D pointing technology. Check back for some very interesting screen examples after the product ships. Jon Hull collaborated on this project as a summer intern.  
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Created initial information architecture and site design for an early (1999) startup attempting to link consumers to suppliers or common contract services such as home maintenance, lawn care, web design, etc. The product functioned as a referral service that collected Requests For Proposal (shown here) for various common services and faxed them to a local business partner in hopes of receiving a cut of the resulting revenue. The company went under during the "free preview" period when their surprised "partners" complained about all the unsolicited faxes they were receiving. Turned out the vendors in their test market (Silicon Valley building contractors and web designers) already had more business than they could handle during the dotcom boom.

 
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Completed early conceptual design and site navigation work and built a series of HTML prototoypes for a service providing information on sales promotions and specials offered by local retailers to customers in their area. The service was conceived as an online competitor to the Val-Pak direct mail campaigns and color printed inserts in Sunday papers offering coupons and advertising to targeted sets of consumers. We made major contributions to the business model by developing protocols for verifying the customers showing up in stores and ensuring the service got credit for delivering them. We contributed the idea that people actually have multiple personal "locales" since there are places they visit regularly for work, school, or other commitments in addition to their area of residence. We also created the concept of "Frequent Buyer Miles" to reward people for shopping outside their local area and to get businesses to compensate the service for delivering customers from a broader geographic region. The service was subsequently acquired by yellowpages.com.

 
     
   

Conducted a design review and provided design recommendations for the first attempt at a revitalized subscription-based incarnation of Napster's popular peer-to-peer file exchange service. Our conclusion that the new service would not catch on with consumers - despite a fairly strong design - without a licensing deal that would bring the mainstream recording artists into the library turned out to be correct.

 
     
   

Completed a design review and provided design recommendations for the company's initial web-based access point and control panel for remotely managing networks of geographically distributed devices. Questra pioneered the concept of Intelligent Device Management and has since built a solid business in the photocopying and print services industry.

 
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Developed the functional requirements, conceptual model, and presentation design strategy for a management console used to configure and control networks of geographically distributed devices... very similar to the Questra business model. Unfortunately the company went under before the product was released.

 
     
   

Provided design recommendations and conducted a full-day in-house workshop with the Shockwave design team to review "before and after" versions of their redesigned entertainment portal site.