Go Team AWESOME! Why Designing in Teams is Designing for Success

Session Title

Go Team AWESOME! Why Designing in Teams is Designing for Success


Tracey Varnell & Dan Saltzman, EffectiveUI

Session Type: Presentation

Do you ever feel like you’re banging your head against a wall – designing, designing, and designing, only to end up revising, revising, and revising? Stop working solo and design as a team to boost efficiency, increase productivity, reduce project risk, and make your job fun!

In this session, EffectiveUI Lead Experience Architects Dan Saltzman and Tracey Varnell will share their experiences with working in interaction design teams at EffectiveUI. Learn about how designing as as a cross-functional team can reduce design iterations and dramatically increase clarity by narrowing the cone of uncertainty. Find out how to optimize your workflow for designing in teams – from building your design schedule to customizing your collaborative workspace. Get tips & tricks on how to deal with The Non-Engager, The Lone Wolf, and other common team members that you can expect to encounter, and how to avoid common pitfalls to prevent them from ever happening. Most importantly, learn how to gain consensus from both development AND design quickly and directly.

Coming out of this session, you’ll be armed and ready with information to demonstrate to your manager and to your peers that designing in teams means growth and increased efficiency for everyone, and better design for your products. As you start to build design teams in your own environment, join us on “the Internets” to share and discuss inspirational ideas for design teams.


Tracey Varnell is a lead experience architect at EffectiveUI, an award-winning provider of rich Internet applications and breakthrough interactive experiences. Tracey spends her days working through business problems, observing and thinking about what people want to do and dreaming up ways to make software easy and enjoyable to use.

Tracey holds degrees in English literature, philosophy and graphic design, which generally makes her unfit to do most real work. Despite that fact, she has more than a decade of experience in software design. She’s worked to build simple, complex, small and large solutions for clients including Nielsen, FedEx, Thomson Reuters, TLC (Discovery Networks), Herff Jones, PENTAX, Cendant (, Quark, Inc., Kaiser Permanente and Denver Art Museum.

Dan Saltzman is a lead experience architect at EffectiveUI, an award-winning provider of rich Internet applications and breakthrough interactive experiences. Dan wakes up (early!) in the morning excited to solve hard problems and to enrich people’s lives through elegant software design.
With more than 10 years of experience in software design and development, Dan has collaborated to build products like QuarkXPress 8.0 and He has worked for clients including Comcast Media Center, The Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, Sun Microsystems, MySpace, Herff Jones and Road Runner Online (Time Warner).

Dan earned an individualized study degree in studio art, post-modern communications and computer science from New York University. He also holds a certificate in traditional french culinary technique from The French Culinary Institute.


  1. Posted September 18, 2009 at 1:29 am

    I like this topic a lot! Hope to see you guys at IXDA 10.

  2. Posted September 19, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Nice topic, one in which I am a firm believer. I hope you’ll address both “fronts” in this conflict; the reticence of organizations to engage multiple resources, and the insecurity of individual designers. I’ve found that too many have failed to gain adoption for team design because they didn’t know how to win BOTH sides of the argument.

    Best of luck with this.

  3. Posted September 29, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Hi Dante – Thanks for your feedback, it’s right on the mark. In our experiences we’ve found that the challenges on both the organizational and team dynamics levels present their own unique problems to solve. Throughout our presentation we’ll address the common scenarios you’ll encounter on both sides and how to address them successfully.

  4. Lori W. Cavallucci
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

    As an indie, this is the story of my life. I would love to learn more effective techniques for working as part of a team as I want to work more often as part of a team and dealing with different personality types.