Cognition: Ideas and Essays Events: Portfolio and Life Information Horizon: Obsessions Cognition: Ideas and Essays Events: Portfolio and Life Information Horizon: Obsessions
Cognitive Event Horizon image
What is a 'Cognitive Event Horizon'?
It's a coined term to express a user interface concept; it represents the user paradigm, the everyday map of the world that people use to get through the day. Things that are outside a user's cognitive event horizon are not important to them, even if these things can hurt them. So a cognitive event horizon is what humans really use to navigate their lives, and that concept is a tool to make decisions about what is needed in a product, and what is not.
Design Rants: Introduction
Life with HTML
Basic Text Design
Visual Chaos
Common Web Page Problems
UI Design for Bean-Counters
Modern Software, Part 1
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a Brief History of GUI
GUI Design Checklists
GUI References
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Killing Hum 
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Whether you've come looking for me or stumbled across this page through some internet equivalent of Brownian motion, welcome.

Update: We moved to Raleigh in 2007 or me to take over as Director of User Experience at, a web-based distributor of digital content (books, photography, art prints, audio, video, even software), but in October of 2008 the economy intervened at Lulu... and I found a new home at building very cool diagnostic monitoring and diagnostic tools for dynamic server environments, and in 2010 moved on to WebAssign as UX Director. In February of 2012 I was a founder at startup building collaboration tools to help organizations find their hidden skills, communicate, and work more effectively... We were acquired by Interactive Intelligence in 2014 as the base microservices architecture for PureCloud, and then ININ was acquired by Genesys in late-2016...

I continue to nurse my DIY audio jones and am interested in collaborations on projects, great music, good beer, discussions, and local audio shenanigans.

We love Raleigh and will stay --

You can contact me at .

So if you are looking at a stack of resumes (and in this hiring environment you probably are) why should you want to hire me, or someone like me?

Software is hard, and expensive. Building great software is harder, and especially, more expensive. But building the wrong software, or bad software, is even more costly. Hiring a UI leader for your software development organization will make your requirements larger, may make your development time slower, and probably will push your initial costs higher.

There, I've said it.


How much time can you save every day with better design? How much is that worth to your company or your customers?

How much will you save with software that is easier to understand and support? Or, how much support expense could you save with a product that installs reliably and plays nicely with other applications? (it's not just QA) A product that can be upgraded more easily because you've already considered how other tasks can be integrated into the whole?

And what if you didn't have to release upgrades every six months?

Because it really isn't just good UI design that someone like me can bring to your company - it's good product design. That means product features that make sense, and that are built to work together. It means mockups *before* specifications are completed, so that users and programmers and managers all can see what is coming and can agree on the requirements through a shared vision. It means requirements based on user goals (instead of checklists) that capture *all* the functions of the software, so that when inevitable compromises have to be made the product still makes sense to your users. It means consistency across the product in language, in tone, in process. It means testing and feedback from real users and categorizing enhancements so that the software will please customers more with new releases, instead of causing fear and uncertainty. And that, ultimately, creates customer loyalty because your products make your users more productive, more reliable, and smarter.

It's actually pretty easy to make sure you build the right features, or, at least to find the problems before you release a product -

  1. Talk to customers, interview people who deal with customers, talk to management
  2. Develop sketches/mockups of multiple solutions and get feedback from stakeholders and customers
  3. Pick the best ideas and build estimates and refined demos, test with customers, iterate as time allows
  4. Insert demo with lightweight requirements into agile development queue (again and again)
  5. Test with real users before you release (make sure developers and managers watch some of the tests)

The hardest part of any user-centered process is setting priorities for the many ideas that will result.

Integrating design with product management makes both tasks easier. Designers can provide data to rank ideas, and sketches and mockups build a shared vision so that everyone can agree on new features; Product Management can provide direction for the design process so that promising ideas are nurtured and lower priorities are discarded as designs are refined.

In a world of commodity software, outsourcing and offshoring, design is a crucial differentiator that pays a return on investment by making sense of the software development process.

Thanks, pRC

(Disclaimer: These pages are also for exploration. A chance to try some different effects, color schemes, and technologies. These pages can contain DHTML, CSS, Javascripts, etc. So please forgive me if some things look a little strange or go boink, they'll probably keep changing over time.)