lofton.net contains stories and info posted by jim lofton. Since I do user experience research & web design/development, most stuff will probably relate to that, but I have a few other areas of interests and will write about those from time to time as well. This site also gives me a chance to try things out that I might not do for my regular job.

Check out the site I started for UX knowledge sharing at: metausable.com

I have a Masters in Human Computer Interaction from Depaul and a BA in Graphic Design from UIC. My web experience goes back to 1995-96 when I first learned about HTML. Since then, I have self-taught PERL, PHP, ASP/VBscript, SQL, CSS, XHTML, XML, javascript and a whole bunch of other web things. I use software tools like Visio, Morae, ScreenFlow, Omnigraffle, MS-Office, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, BBedit, UltraEdit, jEdit, and Fireworks. As well as, I have experience setting up and running MySQL, MSSQL, Apache, IIS, WinMedia server and other web infrastructure tools.

I have been doing user experience, design, architecture, and research for over 7 years now. This includes sketching, wireframing, prototyping, heuristic reviews, contextual inquiries, card sorts, and of course usability tests. I am interested in creating and using html/css/js prototypes for usability tests rather than paper prototypes or using prototyping tools like Axure or iRise. Combined with screen capture software, it really makes turning around findings and creating reports a lot easier, without losing focus on the intent and behavior of the user.

Before the web, I worked as a graphic print designer, doing a lot of work in Illustrator and Quark. I was pretty much an expert user of Illustrator (lots of technical schematics and an occasional illustration), although I haven’t used it much since switching to the web. As a print designer, I worked exclusively on Macs (well before that I used T-square, technical pens, and wax gun). However, when I first started on the web, I was forced to use Windows. Which was a nuisance, but I really wanted to do web stuff. So I Iearned a lot about Windows over time and can pretty easily switch between the two platforms now (I have the latest version of Windows running in a virtual machine on my Mac now).

Actually, it wasn’t that hard to switch to Windows, as I have always had a technical inclination along with my artistic abilities. Previously, I would help friends use their PCs, and at that time the Mac OS was kind of lagging. Not that Windows was better, but this was in 1996 and Mac OS 7 was 6 years old… and it just didn’t have the appeal of a truly usable OS any longer. In fact, using Windows to do web design and development was actually easier, as there were a whole lot more HTML editors and I could use Photoshop which was the same on both platforms (as long as you didn’t need to print).

I continued to use Mac at home, but used Windows at work almost exclusively for over 8 years. However, I have to transitioned back to the Mac at work, since the release of OS X. I love being able to run Apache, PHP, MySQL and do all the web related work easily as I could on the PC. My current system is a Macbook 13″ with retina display and 8GB ram and it is sweet with a Windows partition running in Parallels. Making it the perfect platform to cross develop on and test web sites in all the major browsers. In the end, an OS is only a platform, it is the apps that you use to accomplish most tasks. So I switch between Mac and Windows regularly everyday.