My work as a developer has taught me that a well-designed production process is as important to features as well-designed features are to users.
My work in video games has taught me to value the emotional engagement people have with the tools they use.
I strive to create diverse and inspiring UX systems, and to understand the human factors behind user experiences.
For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to make friends with computers.
I have clear memories of asking my Nintendo nicely to not erase my Zelda save file, and getting sentimental about the persistence of memory after first learning the difference between RAM and ROM. Making software is as much art as it is mathematics and it always seemed to me like the system should fit the human, not the other way around. Computers are great at learning new tricks, but somebody has to decide what to teach them.
My first work in UX was as a consultant at Novell, in Cambridge MA. I learned how to run usability studies and met a heap of brilliant developers, passionate about a community founded in sharing. They wanted to make their platform accessible for everyday users and I wanted to help them do it.
Rock Band was my first gig in video games. It was an eye-opener.
Games are not only more exciting than most software, they're much more complex— for every straightforward usability issue, there might be a half dozen players who find something "almost fun" but can't quite put their finger on why. The goal of a product that is not simply usable, but joyful, sets a meaningful bar for user experience.
Over seven years at Harmonix, I built a small department, mentored a handful of assistants, and advocated tirelessly for the player.
I included developers in creative research planning and streamed live video and chat to their desks.
I created cross-disciplinary internal playtesting teams, encouraging developers to play the game they were creating and share the experience of others first-hand.
I collaborated on feature, UI, and hardware designs for every game that came through the studio, and communicated product vision for those developed externally.
I helped develop tools that would let us track and analyze interaction patterns, and foster rapid prototyping and evaluation.
I arranged for a researchers to join Agile scrum teams in the week leading up to a feature being playtested.
I created a JIRA ticketing system that allowed us to class UX issues by cause and effect, cross-reference with solutions, and re-prioritize related QA bugs as playtests approached.
I learned what our developers wanted to achieve and did everything I could to help realize those dreams.
It all paid off every time a previously-wary developer became excited about an upcoming study, or recalled a user's experience as if they'd been a dear friend.
In my work as a consultant and designer, I do my best to bring this same dedication and enthusiasm to every client and project.
A solid design approach begins with being able to quickly align yourself with the client's goals. This means finding a balance between familiarity with the field and product, and providing the outside perspective necessary to see the problem differently.
When I work with a new challenge, I learn everything I can about what we need to evaluate, what we hope to do with with the results, what feedback and narratives can best become the story of a product.
User experience is much more than functional usability. It is a comprehensive interaction with a device. Did this web portal make me feel powerful? Does the smooth learning curve of this application make me feel clever?
I believe the best user experiences come from empathy.
The more I understand my users, the better I can design a product they will enjoy. The more I understand how my peers work, the better I can design plans to complement their processes.