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I caught the tail end of this discussion, but I'll try to help out
I've been informally involved in UI design for my company since about 2
years ago. A year ago, it was formalized. For the last release, I did
mockups of the UI based on requirements and architecture. Those mockups
were then presented as an adjunct to the system design on which all
components of the application are based.
What started out as a series of comments and recommendations became a
role within the project. I'm still trying to make my role company-wide.
UI design hasn't yet been integrated into the company's strategic
planning, but with luck it will. The satisfaction of seeing something I
conceived in function is fine.
A thing I've discovered is that the roles of technical writing and UI
design strain my availability in roughly the same time frames as the
project heats up. This makes it very difficult to maintain quality on
both fronts. This is especially true since I also create the html code
and am responsible for developing scripts and JSP. It's all integrated.
Being a jack of all trades is fun, but sometimes I do wish for
But when I had simplicity, I also had some nasty UIs to document.