My story if it were designed visually would be similar to the transformation of iron ore to stainless steel. Strengthened by heat and pressure to come out better and unbreakable on the other side. I have humble beginnings, grew up in the small Midwestern city of St Louis. My childhood was full of imagination and ideas. I loved the arts, and read any book I could get my hands on, wrote short stories, poetry and plays; designed fashionable outfits for my Barbies and always dreamed big. When I got to Freshman year of college I had no idea what I wanted to study. I went with my heart and studied Communication. During junior and senior year I was exposed to graphic design and web design for the first time and the rest is history. I immediately designed some business cards and handed them out to the local businesses near campus. Soon, I was hired as a freelancer to produce print advertising: business cards, brochures, newspaper ads. What an awesome feeling to get paid for being a designer!
And then I graduated college during a recession. The tough job market in my little Midwestern town inspired me to go back to school, and to find a recession proof career. Information Technology was a natural choice since I already knew my way around computers thanks to working with Adobe design software. I packed my bags and moved to Boston for grad school at Northeastern University where I studied Management of Information Systems (Informatics). I learned a lot about database management, IT project management, telecommunications, networks, and cybersecurity, and it was all definitely interesting. IT has a magnitude of space for people like me who love a challenge. But I was still a designer at heart so I also took electives in Web Design and Front End Development. Here in this world I could combine my love of design and creativity with writing, content strategy, and solving UI problems.
I continued freelancing and began focusing on the strategy behind making good websites and apps. I am college educated and experience educated in design. The classroom taught me a foundation, but my work as a freelancer and my small business/non-profit clients taught me more than I could imagine. Experience really is the best teacher. I truly care about the user, and want to make technology a help, not a hindrance. In the office where I worked throughout grad school the running joke about our crappy database entry system was “Technology!” and a roll of the eyes when it didn’t work well in helping us complete tasks, which was often.
I have worked with disorganized and quirky web systems that completely frustrate users. I have worked with different generations of users at various technical aptitudes. Part of my joy is designing simple interfaces to solve complex problems while making them easy to use for all users. The other joy is bringing teams together from development, marketing and product management in order to make the best product for the user.
User Experience Design
Understanding the user, current workflows and pain points. Developing requirements to address the needs of the user and guide design updates.
Taxonomy. Clear navigation design. Helping users find the content that they need by using the terminology that best speaks to them.
Contextual interviewing, qualitative and quantitative research. Analysis of current mental models and design patterns.
Choosing the best designs for each platform. Tap or swipe? Rotate the app along with the device or lock to a vertical orientation?
Engaging users through satisfying content. Writing for your audience from novice to power user.
From kickoff with cross-functional teams to milestones for checking on progress. Aligning teams to achieve the target release date.
Talking to real users early and often. Prototyping designs for early feedback and iteration.
Bringing out the best in meetings from conceptual brainstorming sessions to formal design reviews with senior stakeholders.