User Experience Strategy and Design

As a curious, empathetic practitioner of Human-Centered Design, my first priority is always to start with real people. Who are we designing for, and how might we learn from their lived experience in order to serve them? Even better: how might we invite them into our process so we’re designing with them, not just for?

Below are a couple of examples of recent UX research and design projects I have led for different clients:

Uncovering Employee Needs for Collaboration and Communication Tools

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I recently led a small team of strategy and technology leaders through a 10-week ‘discovery sprint’ focused on understanding and designing technology solutions to support collaboration and information sharing across the organization’s distributed employee network.

As a first step toward aligning the core team on our vision, priorities and project plan, I designed and facilitated a half-day, interactive kickoff workshop. Activities included writing predictive newspaper headlines announcing the project’s success one year from now; reaching consensus on the user audiences to prioritize during research using stacking blocks; and co-authoring (in real-time) a guiding ‘How Might We’ challenge statement to frame our upcoming research. These exercises – coupled with a candid conversation and a safe space to raise concerns or anxieties – laid a foundation of camaraderie and trust that allowed us to move forward into the project work effectively and productively.

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The next step was to learn from and engage with the organization’s diverse employee network to understand their needs and experiences, and invite them into our design process. Through one-on-one interviews, stakeholder conversations, and interactive, virtual brainstorming sessions, I developed a keen sense of what mattered to employees both in terms of features for the technology we were building, as well as in their experience connecting and developing relationships with their peers and colleagues.

After identifying user insights and opportunity areas for development, it was time for the product team to begin making decisions about which features and functionality to prioritize. Through an interactive ‘Buy a Feature’ workshop, I led the team through the experience of determining which features would deliver the most value to employees.

By the end of the project, the organization had not just developed a clear, evidence-based product roadmap for the online portal they wanted to build; they had engaged their employees in an authentic, user-led, creative endeavor that secured employee buy-in and adoption for the tool and experience they were creating together.

 

Reimagining the ‘Get Involved’ Call to Action for Key Audiences

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For many philanthropic and civic organizations, the call to action on their website might be the most important button a visitor will ever click. Recently I had the opportunity to partner with a national foundation exploring ways to improve the Get Involved section of their website to make it easier for specific audiences to take action and engage more deeply in the organization’s programs.

This Discovery project covered multiple user research and experience activities, including one-on-one interviews, collaborative stakeholder workshops, online card sort studies, and think aloud site testing. Over the course of 15 weeks, I planned and led the majority of these activities, as well as facilitated a number of workshops and conversations at key moments with various internal stakeholders.

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Through our team’s interviews with key audiences, we learned about the information and experience needs of site visitors, as well as the frustrations that they experienced with the current site. Once research concluded, I turned to synthesis and reflection tools to make sense of the data we surfaced, and identify common patterns and design opportunities for future work.

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To complement our learning with site visitors, I also facilitated a number of workshops with internal stakeholder audiences. Not only did this offer each team the opportunity to weigh in on their priorities and voice their concerns, but it also set the tone for this project as an inclusive, collaborative undertaking that everyone in the organization could contribute to and be part of its eventual success.