tl:dr; I focus on humans, uncovering their goals, needs, wants, fears and frustrations. Through design, I strengthen user perception and cognition to increase overall satisfaction.
My UX practice draws from past on-the-job experiences as in-house product designer and agency design lead. My larger design philosophy is heavily influenced by IDEO's Human-Centered Design Toolkit with a mix of design management approaches from both Lean and Agile methodologies, depending on the project constraints.
The most influential people in my career have been (in chronological order):
But how did I get my start in UX?
I started out in UX design at Workgroups, a software company, building project management tools for the paper and packaging industry, and seeking to fix proof approval workflows for large in-house creative teams. As a member of the product team, it was my first introduction to Agile and working with a team of engineers to make our product features ready for release. In addition to the product, I worked on client-facing aspects such as our in-house documentation and support systems, checkout and purchase flow for our first e-commerce version, and our first cloud-hosted instance of our products. Of course, the real meat and potatoes was designing for Windows and Mac on both platforms.
Going from an in-house product team to an agency was a bit of a culture shock, the short introductions to the clients, workshop-style engagements, and resourcing hours was a big learning experience. I was fortunate to work with two Austin agencies that have allowed me to work with some powerhouse brands. Large tech brands included IBM, AT&T Business, and Forcepoint (Raytheon Cyber), very much in line with my past product design experience. I also added education and media clients to my repertoire. My first research and strategy project was at Stanford University and my largest media project, as design lead, was with Meredith Media, based in Des Moines, Iowa (home state!).
At one time my grandfather owned the largest pig farm in Iowa. Oink Oink. My parents own their own businesses, my Austin neighbors are self-employed, could I do that with UX design? The short answer —yes! My first client as a solo-prenuer was my former employer, Meta, testing their new ProofMe product. Aside from their products, I took on many smaller jobs until I landed my largest project, a full-time three-month research project with HigherEducation.com! I was so happy, I called my Mom to brag. And then reality hit, I needed to hire someone–asap! Who can I afford? Where can I get entry-level designers that understand UX, but maybe need experience? Then I discovered General Assembly, and my relationship with them evolved from there.
When the opportunity presented itself to me I was a bit apprehensive. I had never formally taught, but I loved GA's position as a pioneer in career transformation. Our full-time User Experience Design course is a deep dive into user experience in only 10-weeks. Students practice the design skills in every lesson and tackle five design projects during the course. The intent of this full-time course is that you graduate ready to start a career as a User Experience Designer. Ambitious, and yet our UXDI grads have a job placement rate of 99% within 180 days of graduation.