Apologies for the long, quasi-confessional, but I am really feeling a bit lost here.
I am a domain expert and experienced programmer. For the last four years, I've managed the development of a successful, very specific business-to-business webapp that has enthusiastic users and is growing quickly.
At this critical point, I feel the single most important issue is to improve the user experience. I have sat with users over the last four years and can tell you exactly what is confusing to them, what makes no sense, and what were simply poor design decisions on our part.
As we begin our redesign, I want an app that is logical, intuitive, and beautiful. I want to retire our video course and just point folks to the app, which will be so self-explanatory that they won't need to switch contexts to a help site.
I have hired a freelance "UX designer" who has been extremely, extremely helpful in fixing and re-imaging critical parts our mental model, if for no other reason that he has been assertive enough to successfully challenge my own strongly-held ideas about our app.
But as we try to move towards actual HTML/CSS that my team of (basically color-blind developers) and I can actually use, I'm feeling a bit lost. I've asked the UX designer to put our high-level conversations into an HTML layout and it's crap. He's shown no interest in looking at the extensive sample data I've shared, and has come up with something that is both ugly and doesn't really cover the range of use-cases that we face.
He's suggested that I do the wireframes myself because "I understand all the details" and find a designer who can do the HTML/CSS design.
Bah, so I'm back to square one.
I'm confident in my domain expertise, but as a programmer, I've only ever worked in teams of programmers. (My first job was developing a set of computational geometry routines!)
How do you divide responsibilities and deliverable between
- domain expert who knows requirements
- ux guy who knows how users think (or something)
- designers who can express things visually?
- programmers who need the html markup/css spoon-fed to them because we are color blind, tone-deaf, and prefer command lines anyway.
How do "proper" software companies work?