Sunday, September 14, 2008 In | trackback

 

The journey began midnight of a summer Wednesday, July 6, 1977. My mother went into labour and I was born during the first minutes of July 7, 1977. Yes, I was born in five minutes! That was in Amman, Jordan.

During my childhood, I wanted to be a doctor (like 99% of kids). When I was in my fifth grade, I decided I wanted to be a television director. In my eleventh grade I realized that I wanted to be a cameraman.

I have always enjoyed doing wall magazines for all subjects. Editing, writing and designing was a secret passion. In high school, I thought it was photography that I wanted to become and expert in. I was obsessed with that thought that I actually enrolled in a photography course in university, and spent good 350 JD for a manual 1970’s Minolta.

 

In tenth grade, I decided I can do much better: electrical engineering. I always was interested in knowing how things work, and computers and electronics were the hip! I thought not only I would be able to know how the PC and electronics really work, but also I will keep my interest in photography and television direction alive, especially that it came to my

knowledge that year that Jordan Television hired electronic engineers for the post of directors! So when I graduated school with a very high and prestigious mark (ehem), I enrolled at ease in the Faculty of Engineering, Jordan University. That was year 1995. Although I was determined to learn more about image processing, I soon came to realize that it is Communication Engineering that attracted me most. Nevertheless, being introduced to the Internet has changed my plans forever.

My first encounter with Adobe Photoshop was in 1996. Learning how to make GIF images for the purpose of web graphics was my utmost excitement! I built my first website after learning HTML by viewing the source behind. Ironically, my first website was also column-based! Somethings never change, eh?

Five years down the road and I was packed with DHTML and Photoshop. Last year, I learned ASP and created my first virtual office application based on MS Access. That helped me a lot in getting my first job. I was hired two days after I left school at OneWorld Software Solutions, which was the coolest IT company back in the day. My position was ASP web developer, but I was soon recognized as the HTML and CSS guru and the DHTMLer of the company.

 

Design Begginnings

 

After one year working there, I started to build interest in the web design world in a professional manner. Not wishing to leave my development position, I decided to freelance. My first freelancing jobs where cheap and very impressive to my clients, which allowed me to get even more jobs.

During my work at OneWorld, I have learned to use and write for SQL server, and wrote an internal application deploying Remote Scripting (which was enabled via a Java Applet), and a contact management tool utilizing XML and DHTML. I have been appointed as the sole owner of the interface layer of a major project that lasted for two years (IMLogic). I designed and developed it

using ASP. I was also involved in requirement gathering sessions and business analysis rounds. But I was mainly a geek.

My personal mentor at OneWorld left the company to start his own software business – esense software. I immidiately contacted him and offered my help, and knowing me, he did not hesitate (will may be a little) to hand me my first design job in what would soon be the career of my life.

One of my friends requested a fully-developed web based application using PHP, and asked for my help. I lied. I told him I was an expert in PHP, knowing that I never wrote a single line in PHP! In a matter of two months, a full web-based tool named MyNYR, My New Year Resolution was up and running in four languages, using PHP on IIS, and MySQL. I have found love in creating websites from scratch, designing, developing and deploying them, I have decided I can do more.

 

Freelance Era

 

In 2002, esense software recieved a major project for a UK based client, to create a B2B and B2C platform. And in early 2003, they recieved a small account from the same client to generate a web-based client-side-driven product catalogue run from a CD, that allowed its users to create an RFQ from a list of chosen products – Eurolab. After gathering requirements and designing the interface, I decided I can do some development work for them as well. Createing a client-side driven application using JavaScript, XSL and MS Access, has given me a fresh

look on development tactics, and a new eye for usability. Finishing the product, I was asked by esense to join. And so, in May 2003, I have officially joined esense software as a UserInterface Specialst

Before joining, I had the pleasure of completing few freelance projects that needed an interface specialist to create screens, design them and generate the XHTML needed for the development cycle. Web2SMS, Digital Messaging, and Lookupprice just to name a few. I also designed for the purpose of desktop applications – Genie Backup Manager v.6.0, using graphic and interface skills, in addition to branding and package design. Freesoft -which is an open source based service provider- needed a static website and some graphics work for their desktop platform FreeDesktop. I enjoyed creating the logo theme for their products more than I thought I would!

 

Growing esense and growing with it has been the milestone of my life. It introduced me to different levels of the software business. We were only five, bossing each other around, it has been pretty easy to be in a flat-level organization. As we grew, we were faced with many challenges of all different kinds, and flexibility to turn to different creative solutions was a skill we crafted with time.

Acebroker platform that has been produced using ASP.NET needed revamping on the interface level. Designing it with Amazon-standards in mind, sharpened my usability skills. Afterwards, I was involved in all projects developed at esense from requirement-gathering rounds, information architecture, system analysis, prototyping and web designing. The years have added much to my knowledge in HTML, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, and

finally Ajax. I also redesigned the company’s identity and was responsible for the graphics work, and web administration. I also cleaned toilets (joking!).

Some of Acebroker’s challenges were creating a sequence of pages that allowed an administrator to find suppliers based on RFQs coming from buyers, and matching them to best shippers. The service was built smartly not to get the user in a dead-end, by suggesting alternatives. The challenge in the interface was in conducting the whole process in the least number of steps as possible. Designed smartly, the major decisions were displayed in bold, other distractions were hidden away but on a tip of a click, and wording was very important, so we used textual based English language rather than smart-ass short terminology only known to geeks, or bohemian icons!

 

 

The second large account was an event management tool for a highly prestigious department in Amman – Gala. The project was a huge challenge on both ends, client and server side. As an interface designer and system analyst, I had to come up with the best visual solutions to the most critical and challenging tasks. Afterwards, development cycle had to find ways to make it happen. The major challenge in this tool was allowing users to take defferred decisions and yet keep every detail under control. Creating events with no locations and times, and adding attendees without confirmation, or even confirming and preparing for an event without yet assigning a date. Flexibility in the service brought many sharp corners in the interface to bulge and flatten, just like a ball, you can look at it from any direction to see the content. The project has continued to grow for four years only to fill our hearts with joy. A sign of huge success was winning a lot of accounts from the same client based on our performance.

Some of the other interesting projects were: incubation management tool – imanage; which I settled for a view-edit task in a single page to reduce the number of clicks to take an action. Also, Muscat Securities Market; in which we settled for a simplified navigation system to help reduce the noise, and in which I developed the client-side of a market watch based on IE Data Consumers to make use of Ajax calls. Scrolling lardge data grids have been a challenge finally solved by braking and halting the header when it reached the top of the page. Pylon was luanched as well, which is an ERP system directed towards governmental departments. I played the role of system and business analyst, prototyper, UI designer, and client-side developer. Pylon was initially produced for the Royal Court,

who kept building up features for two years, adding new perspective, and tasks that do not exist in a typical ERP system.

 

Some of the most fun times at esense however, do not involve any client work! Besides branding, blogging and brochure design, there was Thyme: the bi-yearly newsletter at esense, which was created in 2004. I was assigned as a coordinator and copy editor, and, of course, designer. Coming up with the name Thyme was a team effort and has been the most delightful thing I have done so far. Thyme in fact, dates back to my 8th grade (in concept only). Designing and editing wall magazines was the thing I would always have passion for.

 

In December 2006, I thought it was the time for me to move on to a different market, graphic design. I have left esense and worked with a design studio – Patterns Design – to gather more skills in graphic design principles. Some of the design accounts I worked on were: a leaflet and brochure for a newly launched satellite provider in the area –

Noorsat, an exhibit booth design for a technology provider – eTech, a magazine Ad for a network provider – Equinox, and conference design for the Engineering Association. In the mean while I continue to work in the web and interface field, by creating and implementing web-based applications. I recently finished a project that utilized Pligg platform.

Down-under

In Septemner 2007, I have decided to join the southern hemisphere in going round the opposite direction. I came to Sydney to join Massmedia Studios as a front end developer, basically using my techincal skill set in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP, changing my direction once more, until I settle down in Sydney and get to know the Australian market. I also helped in some design tasks, and finally in prototyping a few new projects. I am still exposing the Australian market, learning something new every day.

 

So here I am today, 30 years after that summer night, with a little more to offer. A little of XHTML, CSS, JavaScript and Ajax, and some good deal of sense of usability for web. My passion towards printables shall never die, and although I let go of my urge to work in photography, a wall magazine is always in the back end of my mind. My greatest discovery is my real talent: super analyzing, and categorizing information; otherwise I wouln’t be that great jigzaw-puzzler, and I wouldn’t spend 2 hours wasting my time on a boring show like Lewis.

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