i love to answer questions.
How do we prioritize a large backlog of features that have come through numerous stakeholders?
At Macmillan, I managed internal and external UX resources, run numerous brainstorming sessions, led collaborative journey mapping sessions, developed user personas, scheduled and run ethnographies and field studies, and presented product concepts and designs to executive leadership. I helped launch Macmillan's first User Research Lab for training and testing our software according to the needs of our Product, Accessibility and QA teams. My insights and reports helped to inform product management in order to reduce the risk of key assumptions and meet tight deadlines and budgets.
How do we get college students to take classroom attendance more seriously?
This was the question they didn't know they needed to ask when I started working with the Macmillan team that was designing the new REEF student engagement platform. My in-depth market and user research uncovered numerous motivational drivers that coincided with market opportunities. By mocking up a few scenarios and quickly validating with potential users, we were able to schedule a beta for launch just 6 months from the day we first pitched to the executive team.
What is the best color scheme for a high-stakes homework and assessment software?
Blue and grey might not be visually striking, but my field studies and lab tests showed that blue and grey reduced cognitive load and color-associated stress, reducing distraction and allowing students to focus on the material rather than the application. The UI I designed also met accessibility standards for both color and contrast, a vital consideration in today's litigious educational world.
How do we make sure the Sales team's understanding of our clientele is aligned with what Dev is building for our user base?
Previously at rapidly-growing startup Think Tech Labs, Dev built features based on feedback from customers reported to Customer Service, a telephone game that resulted in a mostly functional but unpleasant user experience. When introducing design thinking to a company at this stage, I find that we have to start by developing a culture of empathy. I do this by building user personas and journey maps based on feedback from internal stakeholders as well as one-on-one sessions in the field with actual clients and users. I needed every single person on our 36 member team to get inside our users' as well as each others' heads before concepting features or fixes. Doing this not only helped us improve the software design, but it also made sure that the teams maintained positive communication as the company grew and became siloed.
Why are our users having so much trouble uploading decent profile pics?
This question was lost in development runaround due to technical constraints and needed a fresh UX perspective. The first thing we added to the Edit Profile Photo tool was a page title. Poking around revealed that this simple heuristic was missing from most of the custom built pages within our Salesforce.com environment, as was clear verbiage familiar to the user and interaction consistent with the rest of the Salesforce.com product. Then I researched the headshots our clients were using on their websites and marketing materials as these would likely be the same photos they would use for their Profile pictures. Of course, platform limitations came into play. The Salesforce.com UI is extremely limiting in what it can do, and our team was limited by its own knowledge of VisualForce code. The cropping box could be moved around but not resized, which meant that users would have to upload precisely the right photo to get what they wanted from the resulting Profile pic. I also devised a content strategy to help users make good choices when selecting a photo.
Where is the market opportunity for a software startup we are considering funding?
Ascendant asked me to perform a deep dive in order to better understand the dealership management software product and space for a startup that had come to them for funding. By doing field research as well as social listening and one-on-one "secret shopper" interviews, I was able to uncover information that was vital to their decision-making process. Because they had no prior UX insight, I also did an in-depth feature and usability comparison of other software in that space, and highlighted the exact specs that would make the startup viable for a larger company to eventually acquire. My presentations were given directly to the fund managers and investors.
I provided similar insights for Harte Hanks and Keller Williams during this period as well.
How do we engage people on social media to download, use and share the designs they create in our mobile app?
The startup I co-founded in 2007 and ran until we sold in 2014 provided a combined 20 years' worth experience designing beautiful products as well as stellar marketing and interaction design. We worked closely with Google to develop an Android app that I wireframed and designed in-house, and we were honored to forge partnerships with Microsoft and HGTV as we all saught to make material products work nicely with material design. Facebook was brand new when we started, but we saw the opportunity to leverage social media to create viral campaigns. Our most successful campaign leveraged our native app, "Door-o-Vision," against the Lowes Home Improvement Ugly Door Contest and was so successful that we not only increased our social media engagement by 1200%, we also received numerous accolades across the web, extending the effect of our intial marketing & PR strategy.
Please ask me about my work with Charles Schwab, EMC, Keller Williams,
projekt202, Thermofisher Scientific, the University of Texas and others,