Tools: How I Use Google Hangouts

I work with clients located all over the world. I use Google Hangouts to create a sense of connection you cannot get from a conference call. Google Hangouts is not a perfect substitute for face-to-face meetings. However, it helps provide the visual cues we need while communicating.


At the beginning of every meeting, each person joins and shows their video on the conference. This gives everyone a chance to see each other and connect socially. This mimics the beginning of an in-person meeting.

  • Once the meeting begins, everyone is asked to switch to their picture, by turning off their video, to reduce bandwidth issues.

Google HangOuts Turn Off Video

  • Google Hangouts will balance the screen to whomever is speaking. If you only want to focus on one person, click on their image in Google Hangouts and it will remain on that display.

Google HangOuts Selected-video

  • If there are bandwidth issues but you want to see each other, Google Hangouts has a bandwidth adjuster that looks like cell phone reception bars. This is located at the top of the screen when you hover over the Google Hangouts window. Click on the icon to see the dialog. Move the setting to the position one above the lowest.

Google HangOuts Bandwidth Adjuster

  • When someone wants to show something they are working on they can share the application or desktop. Hover over the icon with the green monitor and white arrow. Click on the icon and a dialog will show. Select the specific application or […]

Checklist for Understanding Project Context

This checklist is a summary of the initial business analysis in Understanding Project Context. This is an excellent tool to on-board new team members and consultants like myself.

One way I can be useful to clients is by helping them to define a problem and explore the solution space for the right one. The right solution is one that will give my client the edge over competitors and provide users what they really need, even when often it is not what they are asking for. The business analysis conducted in the first phase of a project “Understanding Project Context” is critical to clients making the best decisions to move their products in the right direction. This work is done at the beginning of the project before a solution is explored and a course of action is set.

For a PDF and print version use this link: Checklist for Understanding Project Context

For more detail in each area, visit previous posts where I discuss each one.

so now what?

What is the problem?

Clarify the problem
Determine what clients/users have the problem
Write down where in the business this problem occurs
Identify the event or time periods when the problem occurs
Describe why the problem happens
List the business outcomes desired for solving the problem
Identify how the business outcomes will be measured

so who are you

Who are the players?

Identify the people on the project team
Identify the executive leadership responsible […]

Luminoso Compass and Frictionless Design

Luminoso announces the launch of COMPASS, their next generation enterprise feedback solution!

Luminoso Compass

Luminoso Compass enables you to consume, interpret, and act on large-scale feedback in real time – across multiple languages. It captures new themes in conversation, extracts actionable insights, unearths the root causes and illuminates the driving themes and topics.  In addition, Luminoso Compass removes spam, irrelevant content, and off-topic discussion automatically.

Michael T. Pullen of  Frictionless Design worked with Luminoso to design and develop the Compass user interface. “I found working with Luminoso exciting,” said Pullen. “The business challenge was to simplify the overwhelming intake of social media and company data to make timely business decisions. The resulting product is a sleek application that allows people to analyze a particular area of interest, group areas into relevant topics, and monitor those topics to see changes over time. Only when the user is interested does he need to dive into the individual messages and posts being monitored. All of this allows users to remain focused on the business impact of the data rather than scanning thousands of Tweets.”

Luminoso is a language understanding company. Their proprietary conceptual engine – born out of a decade of research at the MIT Media Lab – analyzes vast quantities of text in seconds, deriving insights and conclusions that are critical to enlightened decision-making.  Take any form of unstructured text – emails, news stories, research results, social media rants – and identify the ideas, patterns, dot-connections, underlying themes, and buried intelligence. Luminoso can be contacted at

Frictionless Design offers user experience design and architecture consulting services to enterprise-class software companies. Frictionless Design can dramatically improve your ability to deliver products on time and ensure customer acceptance. Michael Pullen […]

Frictionless Update: 2014 Lessons Learned

2014 was a busy year of change and lessons learned. I consulted with companies new and established, joined a start-up full time, and even contracted on projects. These experiences taught me more about the value I provide to clients, and the work I find most satisfying.

As I met with potential clients and discussed their projects, my understanding of my value sharpened in my mind. The value I offer clients is that I can dramatically improve their ability to deliver products on time and ensure customer acceptance. I do this through a number of process and design strategies, honed over years of experience.

I am occasionally presented intriguing projects, offered on a contract basis. Even when organizations would benefit from me in a consulting role, if they want a contractor, that is the mindset with which they approach their design needs. Contractors are often plugged in to perform tasks at the will of the employer. These tasks may or may not have any value on process and product delivery, but contractors have no influence to change that. I am sticking with consulting.

It was a year in which I discovered much about myself, the industry, and where I want to take frictionless design in the coming year. You can read more about my recent projects in Client Stories.

Copyright 2015 Frictionless Design LLC

Related Posts

By |January 14th, 2015|Consulting|1 Comment

Frictionless Clients: 2014


A year well spent. I worked with clients in a wide variety of industries and developed a successful working relationship with the best UI developer I know, Doug Ross. My initial collaboration with his consultancy, OnVelocity, was for an education company seeking to develop software for standardized testing. Together we designed and developed an assessment tool for high school math teachers to give students as practice for Common Core testing following SBAC and PARCC standards.

Following my work in the educational space, I worked on projects in Foreign Exchange Trading, Real-time Analytics, and Document Storage.

  • Foreign Exchange Trading. Ty Danco of Buyside FX invited me to work on a proposal to provide a currency trading system for a large international bank. After winning the proposal, I joined for BuysideFX for a few months. Unfortunately, a large American bank got involved and banking politics took over. In the end, the international bank was forced to work with another company and BuysideFX closed its doors.
  • Real-time Text Analytics: A former client was working at a new company and needed me, together with OnVelocity, to design and develop the UI for a new product. The product monitors unstructured text from sites such as Twitter and uses simple keywords to filter and categorize tweets into topics that can be saved and monitored over time.
  • Document Storage: I accepted a contract position to work with executives in financial services to create a dashboard to help execs manage their data so their company could remain in compliance. Within days of my arrival department’s strategy changed, so my contracting career was shorter […]
By |January 14th, 2015|Consulting|1 Comment

Frictionless Meetups:


As a Mentor at startup accelerator Techstars (Boston) I get to meet and work with the some great startup companies. While many are exploring cutting edge technologies, others offer interesting creative products. This past spring, the Internet of Things (IoT) caught my eye. Imagine “smart” hotels, where the front desk can manage everything from air conditioners to water, via internet communications. is a company providing a device that allows the product engineers of such equipment to make them “internet aware” in minutes to harness cloud communication and control them remotely. Onion’s technology generates apps and admin tools to manage the collection of information and communication with the equipment.

Copyright 2015 Frictionless Design LLC

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By |January 14th, 2015|Consulting, products|1 Comment

Frictionless Tech & Design: Being your UI Framework Team

Trends in web technology tend to be fickle. Every day there are new technologies, libraries and frameworks to build the next generation of UI.

Javascript UI Frameworks

Javascript UI frameworks

I have collected a group of talented UI architects and UI developers to curate the best of the open-source stack for enterprise software development. Imagine a tested, scalable and efficient product that will allow business tier developers to focus on their code and simplify the UI architecture. There are dozens of open source projects and proprietary stacks from which to choose. However, there are few projects or companies focused on packaging and enabling enterprise class software development.

Our objective is to provide you with the best UI architecture, components and tools to build your enterprise application. We are focused on curating a stack of the best open-source components to build an enterprise class application to run on your web browser, desktop, or tablet. By packaging a tested, scalable and efficient product, we will become your UI framework resource, allowing business tier developers to focus on their code and simplify the UI architecture. We will keep you posted on when these packaged tools will be available.

By |March 9th, 2014|Consulting|0 Comments

Frictionless Clients: High Stakes Assessment Tests

High-stakes assessment testing is a big deal, for both students and the industry. Nationwide, teachers and students know the stress of the increasingly important state educational assessments. Here in Massachusetts, its the MCAS. These tests are long and complicated, and because they have been traditionally delivered via paper, inflexible in design and delivery. A new industry is evolving to conduct “e-assessments.” For a recent project, I had the opportunity to analyze a number of these products. Two of the main players in the electronic assessment space are Smarter Balanced (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).


Smarter Balanced Screenshot

 The objective is to convert every student assessment to an electronic one, delivered via computer. According to Wikipedia, here are the advantages. “E-assessment is becoming widely used. It has many advantages over traditional (paper-based) assessment. The advantages include:

  1. Lower long-term costs

  2. Instant feedback to students

  3. Greater flexibility with respect to location and timing

  4. Improved reliability (machine marking is much more reliable than human marking)

  5. Improved impartiality (machine marking does not ‘know’ the students so does not favour nor make allowances for minor errors)

  6. Greater storage efficiency – tens of thousands of answer scripts can be stored on a server compared to the physical space required for paper scripts

  7. Enhanced question styles which incorporate interactivity and multimedia.”

During my research, I have discovered that some of companies creating these tests have little experience developing software applications, their backgrounds are in test design or courseware. The assessment application designers follow few standards or other conventions that would be familiar to children taking the tests. The assessments are […]

Frictionless Meetups: Litographs

As a Mentor at Boston startup accelerator Techstars, I have the opportunity to meet and work with the some great startup companies. While many are exploring cutting edge technologies, others offer interesting creative products. One company I found intriguing and fun is Litographs. Litographsconverts the text of books to shirts, totebags and posters. Do you have a favorite book such as “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “War and Peace,” or “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”? Litographs hires designers to read the book, come up with a design that represents the book, and take the entire text of the book and print it out in the theme of the design. What a great way to promote pride in literacy and great literature!

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Check out all of the titles at

Frictionless Update: A Fresh Start

Wow! It has almost been one year since I left full-time employment. After 20 years I decided to go out on my own and created frictionless design – a User Experience Design and Architecture firm. I am focusing on becoming a design partner with small to midsized development shops who need enterprise class design assistance on a project basis.

I had a major project referred to me by my UX design colleague Karen Graham. The company is located here in Massachusetts and was looking for someone to help design and guide them with their new enterprise class storage administration and monitoring user interface. That project was my kickoff.

After weeks of quiet, people from my past began contacting me. Colleagues from Gomez, Kronos, ITG, as well as an entrepreneurship class I was taking, all had interesting projects to discuss. While several of them were startups, a couple were already implementing software products. I will spotlight various clients in future newsletters so that you can get a sense of what other companies do and how they incorporate the design process.

As I was making my way into the consulting world, I began reaching out to my network of UI experts to partner with on projects. Despite 20 years in the industry, I have found it difficult to find UI developers who are great at what they do and passionate about the work. With luck on my side, I found that Doug Ross was also launching his own consulting firm, OnVelocity. Doug happens to be one of the most talented UI developers I know. We have approached several clients together and are currently working at an educational content […]

By |March 5th, 2014|Consulting|1 Comment