design, strategy, code, schtuff

design and development of content, sites, apps, experiences, logos, what-have-you

Service Design and Change Management for an International Non-Profit

Highlighted Skills Used:
Ethnographic and Remote User Research
Process Design/Business Strategy
Team Management
Service Blueprinting

Interaction and Interface Design

Context: A non-profit, whose servitized product was delivering digital scans of books, online, for free, and accessible in as many formats, to as many people as possible.

The Challenge: There were no standards for quality of digital images - not in evaluation process or in process training and evaluation. Additionally, standards in image quality for digitization technicians varied greatly between individuals and between digitization center locations. Standards needed to be established, implemented, trained, and evaluated - it was affecting the customer experience. People would call, email, and leave comments on specific book scans noting how frustrating it is to get 40 pages into a book, only to find that every page thereafter was too blurry or too dark to read, or that pages 41-42 were inadvertently not captured.

Research Gathered/Methods Used: Spending nearly three years embedded as an ethnographic researcher among the Quality Assurance (QA), most of the time was spent performing the QA Technician's job, as those were the users for whom I was trying to understand in order to build a standardized, easy to learn and use process. This included performing "QA batch checks", and starting group chat rooms for the QA techs for ease ofgathering user needs and pain points in the moment. A number of emote usability tests with the QA staff around the globe were performed, utilizing eye tracker software in order to learn about and then teach the optimal method screen-scanning method.

Design Process: The new QA process was tested with users (QA techs), refining best methods of clarifying nebulous concepts like "how dark is too dark to read?" and standards around when to reject a batch for quality reasons and what the ramifications of that were. A new process and system for performing QA and evaluating the new skills of the QA staff, and a dashboard of push data for management, including ROI on the new processes were all built out in proof-of-concept. All of these were tested with QA techs, and iterated on over the course of the roughly 34 months spent on this project.

Result: The new quality standards, and methods for evaluating QA staff were implemented. The suggested new process and systems for creating a better team member experience may have been implemented at a later date.

Measurements of Success: Upon implementing the new quality standards and spending a few weeks training all the scanning staff - scanners and QA techs - in those new standards and what to do about them, all 15 QA staff were re-trained and had passed their evaluations with100% correct evaluations. This service design engagement ultimately resulted in a series of process, tool, and training changes for team members. But these more tangible changes were merely the tip of the service redesign iceberg. The changes to process, training and evaluation of quality assurance staff, in turn, resulted in both better quality images for users, as well as an easier, less costly on-boarding process for new quality assurance team members. The clearer quality guidelines filtered to the scanning technicians, who were able to optimize their own processes, resulting in fewer quality issues needing to be flagged by quality assurance technicians, ultimately to be rescanned. Since this resulted in fewer books needing rescanning due to poor quality of scans, while the quality defect rate went down, raw production – pages scanned per hour – increased by nearly 100% over the course of 18 months. Taken holistically, this resulted in shaving approximately $0.02 off operational costs per page scanned, which equated to a savings, on average, of 30% per page scanned.

50 Hours, 8 People, 1 Set of Design Deliverables for a Responsively Designed Site

Highlighted Skills Used:
Workshop and Design Thinking Facilitation
Discount User Research
Journey Maps
Team Management
Information Architecture Design

Context: A Bay Area non-profit sought to support, advise, and guide 18-29 year-olds worldwide who wish to become entrepreneurs. They needed to build a robust online, partially self-serve, partially educational business model builder.

The Challenge: Their current site utilized a Google form for capturing all of the information used to then create a PDF which was manually emailed to the user. It required that the form be filled out in one sitting, and even if you knew all of the terminology and all of the answers to the over 40 questions, it could take over an hour to fill out, without the option to save. There was no 'Help' or user assistance to help with terms and concepts, though there were lengthy examples included, which must be scrolled through to get to the actual question. The form contained no sense of progress within the form, nor was it visually appealing, and it was overly content-heavy. The CEO asked for 'Turbo Tax but for business model building', for his target audience.

Research Gathered/Methods Used: In a three- hour research session with the CEO and a content strategist, the team extracted as much first and second-hand knowledge from the CEO about his users. Interviewing him about his users, we drew out the five key user types from what he told us. He was able to easily think of actual users that aligned with these personas and the team performed structured interviews with him as if he were each of these users. This spawned an exercise in which the CEO then drew 'A Day in the Life' sketches for each of these actual users he was thinking of, and then marked each point of each user’s daily journal as a high point (rose) or low point (thorn).  Thorns were then looked at through the lens of opportunity areas and fed into the initial design process.

Design Process: Patterns emerged around behaviors, backgrounds, motivators, and habits of these users, which were used as launching points for two, two-hour white-boarding sessions with another content strategist. These sessions helped hone the personas. I put together a four-hour ideation and prototyping workshop and four colleagues attended – an interaction designer, a UX producer, a content strategist, and a marketing writer. Guiding them through card sorts, 8-up drawings, affinity clustering, and idea posters, we were able to come up with a basic framework for what this application should include, functionally, as well as how to include it, and the major flows, information hierarchy, and interactions that would be needed to be prototyped.

Facilitating a rapid prototyping workshop with three colleagues (content strategist, UX producer, and marketing writer), we had the CEO and his engineering architect come in and respond to our iterative paper prototypes. Three rounds of prototypes later, we had a direction for the maker session in order to create deliverables. The day-long maker session included a content strategist, writer/visual designer, and interaction designer. Working together, we built a site map, created wireframes and interaction rules, and built a tone and style content guide, as well as a style guide, which included fonts, colors, and a full set of icons. This resulted in the three deliverables which were sent to the client the following week.

Result: Had the team that built this set of design deliverables not been donating their time, this project could have cost this non-profit client upwards of $90,000. As the site is currently in production, I cannot yet speak to the results of our designs, nor to the success of the site.

Measurements of Success: To be updated.

If you would like a PDF of my most up-to-date, confidential portfolio, please contact me.

Mock-Up of an Output File from an Educational Web App

Highlighted Skills Used:
Research Synthesis
Discount User Research

Heuristics Evaluation
Content Strategy
Interface Design

Context: A educational technology company planned to offer a new type of automatically graded learning project and needed an entirely different look and feel for the graded report the student would receive, while still maintaining brand standards and working within the confines of graded report back-end systems.

The Challenge: User research was not a favored method at this client, and so much of the information about "what users wanted" was vague and biased by the product managers' desires and assumptions. Additionally, the system designed to automatically generate the graded reports was proprietary technology built, owned, and maintained by a vendor - much of the architecture and experience was immutable, so my team focused on the look and feel, developing a clean, easy to read and easy to print report.

Research Gathered/Methods Used: Much of the research gathered was performed by product managers, onsite, at educational facilities, with professors and administrators, not students. All research gathered was filtered through these lenses, so it was up to the team to follow best practices when it came to displaying information in a clear, concise, easy-to-digest manner. Heuristics evaluations were carried out, raising many of the largest usability and accessibility issues immediately, helping this project to consistently run ahead of schedule, despite other setbacks.

Design Process: Using an iterative approach, starting with pencil sketches, guerilla research was performed with approximately 10 coworkers and colleagues - learning path designers, educators, and some of them part-time students. Feedback gathered was incorporated and passed by the development vendor for feasibility before re-testing and asking for more feedback, the second and third times in an ad hoc manner, from local college students on public transportation.

Result: The resulting report design was praised by the product team, and beta student-testers for it's simplicity of layout and readability, as well as for the addition of actionable feedback instead of a simple "correct" or "incorrect" for each question.

Measurements of Success: Unknown.

User Flow, Diagram, and Wire Frame for eCommerce re-design

Highlighted Skills Used:
Retail and Non-Profit Strategy
A/B Testing
Interaction and Visual Design
Information Architecture

After some initial user testing it was determined that the site needed a re-skin and some tweaking to the user flows. The site had grown to include so much information that the navigation had become cumbersome and difficult to use, particularly on mobile devices.

I created these sketches and low fidelity wire frames, and re-organized information and the navigation as well as the flow of products to allow for fewer, shorter navigation terms; all of which resulted in faster page load times and a more usable mobile experience.