Karmanaut Services

Karmanaut is (or was in around 2002 when I wrote this) a user experience design consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. Specialising in virtual worlds and advanced hypermedia projects, Karmanaut is committed to finding innovative and appropriate solutions for the most interesting and challenging design problems: Interactive data visualisation, multi-dimensional information design, and effective human interfaces.

Karmanaut is me, Viveka Weiley. And when a project calls for it, some associates. You can read about my capabilities and experience on the about page. I'm available for consulting work. This page describes some of the things I can do for you:

Interactive product strategy
Before you start on a new website, multimedia project or virtual world, it's crucial to know what your goals are and what techniques are available to help you meet them. I can help define these for you, using (for example) structured interviews, requirements-gathering roundtables, and user and task analysis.
Information architecture
Like a building, all the elements of a hypermedia product must be arranged in a cohesive architecture. While you may be very familiar with your subject area, your users may not be; or they may think about it differently to your expectations. Should the path through your information be broad, or deep? Do your users want a lot of choices up front, or do they want to make smaller choices more often? There are some effective inexpensive techniques that make the answers very clear.
Human interface/interaction design
Like a tool, it must be designed for use by humans. Task-oriented and user-focused design can make the difference between something that is a joy to use, and something utterly unusable. The extra dimension of interactivity affords you the ability to directly manipulate information.
Information representation design; graphics and layout
Like a book, it must be legible and attractive. Graphic design for the screen is a discipline unto itself. The design must be flexible enough to communicate at low resolution, on diverse screen sizes and colour spaces, across platforms with variable characteristics.
Usability testing & reports
When you need to know that your application is working for your users, the real test is to get them in and watch them using it. By testing with as few as five users you can find the vast majority of usability issues. I've performed formal usability testing in high-tech testing centres on finished software and around the coffee table in a warehouse using rough paper prototypes, and can produce high-quality, comprehensive reports with clear recommendations to make your application more effective.
Well-built interactive products are accessible to the disabled using a variety of assistive technologies; in some situations this can also be a legal requirement. I can ensure that your product complies with standards such as the Web Accessibility Initiative, U.S. ADA/Section 508/504 Guidelines and the European and Australian Disability Discrimination Acts. For websites, an extra positive side effect is that compliant websites will display on a wider range of devices, from interactive TVs to mobile phones.
Content integration
When you have a lot of information or frequent updates, you need a content management system. I can help you with your content management strategy, and also with the implementation of CMS software. Solutions exist that make it easy for non-expert users to publish and collaborate, from free out-of-the box news publishing systems to custom enterprise-level databases.
Advanced interface design and virtual worlds
I particularly enjoy complex interface design problems. Every one is different, although there are common approaches. When you want to visualise information with many aspects, the extra spatial dimension afforded by 3D and the extra temporal dimension afforded by interactivity can give you new insights.
Geospatial technologies
Interactive 3D is especially useful when applied to geospatial data. If terrain is important to your problem, or you're making decisions about high-rise buildings, or cities with high-density areas, or you just want a more powerful sense of place, then we can help.
Free and Open Source Software
Never pay another license fee again. An increasing number of proprietary software packages can now be replaced with Free and Open Source Software, giving you a much lower up-front cost as well as lower total cost of ownership over time. Free Software can also be more readily customised for your needs, and can free you from vendor lock-in, as multiple companies compete to provide support for your application. I've worked in Free Software development, and base all my solutions on Free and Open Source software wherever possible
I've lectured on all the topics above, and trained staff inside organisations. Understanding how your system works will allow you to take control of your own projects.
Project management
I have experience managing creative technical teams; working with artists, programmers, product managers, writers, editors, producers, cinematographers, 3D modelers and so on. I've led projects inside large and small organisations, and also managed groups with remote participants, employees, students, volunteers and contractors.
Assembling virtual teams
I maintain a large network of highly qualified collaborators; if you need something done that I can't do (like Shockwave3D or Flash, composing music, or C programming), then I know someone who can do it for you.

If you'd like to talk then please contact me at your convenience.