The Design Studio

November 3 – 5, 2014, New York, New York • Register Now


Whether you have been developing software for 20-years, or are just getting started, you'll learn a formal process and set of practices for designing exceptional interfaces during this three-day experiential studio.

Learn Design Research
Day 1: Discovery & Specification
  • Creating project briefs
  • Conducting design research
  • Deriving requirements from personas and scenarios
Use Design Patterns
Day 2: Framework Definition
  • Storyboarding user flows
  • Creating lo-fidelity sketches and prototypes
  • Usability testing designs
Prototype and Usability Test
Day 3: Detail Design & Review
  • Using feedback to improve the solution
  • Creating a style guide
  • Polishing the interface

What is design?

Design is an intentional process in which you elicit, derive, decide, clarify, and plan the solution to a given problem. Sketches, prototypes, technical plans, and finished solutions are the artifacts that result from a design process.

Design is also a key differentiator. A minimum level of design used to be enough to demonstrate professionalism, craft, and care. The overwhelming success of IOS, the growing acceptance of web-standards, and the sophistication of the user base, has significantly raised what is considered acceptable. Indeed, applications and websites that look amateurish or have a poor user experience are now viewed with contempt and distrust.


How can learning a formal design process help me?

It is almost impossible to hit the right solution the first time. Most people and businesses don't know exactly what they want or need. As a result, a lot of time, money, and effort is spent undoing the initial attempts or working around ingenious solutions to the wrong problem. An effective design process saves money by identifying the right problems to solve and by developing effective solutions early when it is most cost effective.

Developing Scenarios, utilizing constraints, lo-fidelity sketching, finding design patterns, prototyping, usability testing...each of these practices help you develop your initial ideas into fantastic solutions.

When you put these practices together in a repeatable, formal process, you can reliably produce great work while saving money and delivering on time. You also foster cooperation with your clients and users, making it significantly easier to sell better projects.


Who is teaching the Studio?

Don Levan

Dr. Don Levan is President of Vanguard Custom Software and the founder of The Design Studio. Dr. Levan is a software designer, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and former photojournalist. Dr. Levan has spoken at the past three FileMaker Developer's Conferences and has provided design consulting to FileMaker, Inc.

Vanguard's mission is to "design simple applications which solve complex problems." They incorporate software development best practices, interaction design, and cognitive psychology to create data-driven applications and websites that are efficient for business and easy for people.


What are past attendees saying?

“This course is a must-have for all serious developers.”

— Paul Spafford, FM Layoutmode.com

“This workshop changed the way I work forever!”

— Marty Thomasson, Gearbox Solutions, Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance

“Absolutely fantastic material, professionally delivered.”

— James Hea, Project Manager, HSBC Bank Bermuda Limited

“I would wholeheartedly recommend this workshop to any serious developer trying to bring the best user experience possible to his or her clients.”

— Richard Carlton, President of Carlton Consulting, Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance

“This workshop provided clear and tangible examples and exercises that engaged us to rethink how we approach requirements gathering and dovetail that into intentional system design.”

— Adam Aronson, President of FullCity Consulting, Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance

“This workshop really helped us in the design of the document check-in screen of DocuBin.

After implementing what we learned, we simplified, re-worded, and rearranged the buttons so that the result of each choice is much more obvious.”

—Jesse Barnum, President, 360Works, Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance

“I loved the session. The three days were fantastic. Filling in a lot of the gaps we were skipping in the development process is going to make us much, much, better developers.”

— Joe Gonzalez, IT Manager, Austin Convention Center

“Developers will save themselves and their clients much time and aggravation if they apply the process presented in the workshop. Otherwise, they will repeatedly re-invent the common mistakes inherent in a free-form design development process.”

— Dale Stuart, Ph.D., President & CEO, StarQUick Solutions

“The design studio helped me approach things in a different way that forced me to actually think outside the box. I think it is giving me a better product for the client at the end of the day. It's a great class.”

— Allan Mowat, President, Nevis Associates, Inc.



What else do I need to know?

We will be transforming a 3,000 sqare foot Manhattan loft space into our Design Studio. The studio will be held at Basha Studio 34 - two blocks from the Empire State Building in the heart of New York City (34th Street, between Park Avenue South and Madison Avenue).

The Studio will run from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. each day. Participants are encouraged to bring laptop computers. Paper, sharpies, sticky notes, and six-up templates will be provided. Participants will receive a recommended reading list in advance of the Studio. Participants are responsible for their own meals.

Please contact us if you have any additional questions.


When is the next Design Studio?

We are planning additional Studios for the spring. Subscribe to our newsletter and we will be sure to let you know. Contact us if you would like to plan an onsite training for your team or in your community.