I am a principal-level UX designer and information architect with nearly 20 years of digital design experience. I enjoy working with a smallish team of superheroes with whom I can build beautiful ways to access information.
While Infor has a tradition of in-depth user research methods for its product development, there was no process for doing quick, iterative tests with a large number of website users at once.
I created and oversaw Infor's first live user testing lab for Inforum, the company's largest annual convention. This offered attendees—both customers and Infor's executives—a tangible way to participate in and appreciate our user-centered design process.
I and other IAs ran 96 tests total, for five separate Infor products. I also launched a pilot program for quick user testing, the Beta Tester Community. This program invites participants to offer feedback on new designs via short browser-based testing exercises. Currently the program has grown over the past year to over 480 participants, to whom I can send user tests at any time during product development.
Concerned that separating prototypes, design specs, and requirements documents caused a fractured understanding of the product, I surveyed my visual designers and front- and back-end developers about their learning styles. I came to understand that a resource that integrated the visual design, interactivity, and notations could provide what everyone needed in a single place.
I experimented with sophisticated prototyping systems like InVision and UXPin (which integrated with Sketch and Craft) and developed a way to add requirements notes to the same prototype that were built, tested, and delivered to our development and QA teams.
This new workflow has reduced development time by about a week, and reduced the number of follow-up calls to verify interactivity.
After facing chronic challenges resulting from the New York Public Library's lack of design documentation, I decided to build my own. The goals of the "NYPLBase" project were to produce a package of code, for use by designers and developers, that provides NYPL branding as well as a reference of design patterns.
I designed the patterns and styling, tested paper prototypes, and built the first version of the full code base over a period of about six months. The code of NYPLBase is built on the InuitCSS Sass framework, and provides an easy way to quickly build styled, responsive prototypes. The in-progress style guide and code base are both available on GitHub.
Its first project-based use was in the redesign of the Locations section of NYPL.org. We saved time, tested working code with real patrons, and reused code in much of the design phase. Being able to test real code was essential to our ability to gauge the success of the UX with its target audience during development sprints.
Early in my role as UX Designer for the New York Public Library, I observed that the design process was to present stakeholders with finished, high-fidelity designs. While the designs looked impressive, any corrections that needed to be made took a lot of time between iterations.
When I started work on the "Three Faiths" online exhibition, I took the opportunity to introduce wireframing to our process. The weekly stakeholder check-ins became working meetings, where I led the group through each iteration of the wireframes. The wireframes I created helped facilitate conversation between the high-level stakeholders on the project, which had previously been a challenge.
We were able to achieve a universally approved and functional design. Rather than simply approving finished designs, the stakeholders were part of the design process, and therefore felt a sense of investment and ownership.
NYPL's Development department needed to create a design that showed the variety of ways a patron can contribute to the library, and I was only able to devote partial time to this project as the single UX designer.
I was a "team of one" during this project, and led my stakeholders through the process starting by researching and determining project requirements. We then established the content priorities using strategic techniques like page tables. I used wireframes to have an iterative conversation with the project stakeholders and quickly test design hypotheses before going to code.
The redesigned pages were much cleaner, and resulted in a 33% increase in membership over six months. This work led to a second project, designing internal donation "ads" for various contexts throughout the site, so that users see the connection between their support and the services the Library provides. That work measurably increased Library donations.
I learned to design in code in 1999. Since then I've been fortunate to have a varied career. I have been responsible for the information architecture, layout, visual design, front-end code, testing, and overall successful user experience of both non-profit and commercial web properties. My work ranges from intranets for Ford Motor Company, to research guides for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, to the flagship sites for the New York Public Library and Infor.
My training in information science has been crucial to my success as an IA and UX designer; after all, the primary job of a librarian is to assess user needs and facilitate information delivery. Between my librarian training and my experience in different disciplines, I am able to be the bridge between research, strategy, IA, design, and development.
Apart from my design skills, I'm a bit of an empath and a firm believer in collaborative working environments. A colleague once complimented my ability to command a room full of emotional, frustrated people by saying I was like "a kindergarten teacher for grown-ups." Sometimes we all need a hug, or a cookie, or a smack with a rolled-up newspaper*.
*I do not believe in hitting kindergartners with newspaper or anything. Grown-ups, however, should be regularly struck with wet noodles.