Hello World.

I am a user experience designer with a passion for psychology and behavioral science. I find personal joy in creating meaningful experiences for individuals interacting with digital platforms. Design and information architecture decisions that I make are based strongly in research and user testing. My goal as a designer is to make user interfaces more intuitive by designing around human cognition and behavior.

Creative Process.

Strategy

In this case, strategy is the means by which I can turn a problem into a measurable goal, and then alleviate or eliminate an issue. Often a project starts with a problems that need to be solved. Setting goals helps me create measurable guidelines by which I can measure progressive improvements. Finally, jotting down the strategies by which I’m going to complete those goals helps keep me focused on the project priorities.

After speaking with my client, asking them questions related to the functionalities, content and feature requirements and recording notes of our discuss, I start to create an outline of what I determine to be the main business goals, and what I am predicting to be the main user goals. I ask myself the question, “What problem am I trying to fix, and how can I do it?” Brainstorming potential strategies to accomplish those goals starts the creative process.

An example from the project charter for the Photo Digital Imaging Portfolio website. The project purpose is outlined to ensure the client and I were on the same page.

From this list, I generate a site mission or objective. Keeping my primary objective at the forefront of the project helps prevent scope creep and keep me focused when the development becomes more complex.

An example from the project charter for the Photo Digital Imaging Portfolio website. Listed are goals along with potential strategies, and below, tactics to complete those strategies.

After this initial organization and project foundation, I begin research to decide how to make my next design considerations. I also identify what type of platform is necessary for the project.

Research

There are three primary aspects that I research to gain a full understanding of the client, users and reception of my website.

  • Demographics  Understanding my users on a deeper level allows me to empathize and put myself in their shoes making design decisions better suited for their needs. Key and target demographics influence everything from the design aesthetic, user interface considerations to social media targeting and platform choices. Presenting demographic information in the form of personas not only creates a visual representation that is easier to present to clients, but also enriches the story of the site’s brand.
  • Competitors  Chances are the topic of my website is not the first of its kind, so I look at competitors to assess what works and what doesn’t for them. Researching web presences of similar websites gives me the chance to be a user and determine what I like and dislike about the flow, organization or design of the site. Recording my observations mentally in sketches and notes allow me to consider these aspects within my own design.

“‘Does it better’ will always beat ‘Did it first'” -Aaron Levie

  • Climate A more nuanced aspect of research yet crucial part is examining the climate in which the website, product or brand is going to be released. Being conscientious of political happenings, viral stories, videos or memes, world events, and cultural shifts can prevent embarrassing corporate faux-paus.
    This was the update description for the United Airlines App soon after the controversy involving United Airlines forcibly removing a man from the plane

Building from the foundation of strategy and with the support of research, I begin the design and test iteration process.

UX Design

  1. Sketching I am an avid note-taker, so I always have a sketchbook with me for jotting down ideas or drawing out a concept.  Sketching out annotated layouts helps me remember ideas later and also create quick iterations for fast problem solving. Drawing out concepts and outlining hierarchies helps me mentally organize my ideas.

  2. Site Mapping Sketched or digital, site maps can be in the form of bullet outlines or a flow chart. Mapping out the information architecture of the website helps me identify user flows and guides how I build wireframes.
  3. Wireframes Axure, Adobe XD/Illustrator and Sketch are all programs I’ve generated wireframes with. Wireframes are comparative to building blocks in that the different parts of a site are set in place but can be rearranged after feedback. Generating wireframes ensure I have all  of the pieces I need, an intuitive navigation system and users can complete their goals.

UI Design

5. Moodboards Through the use of a moodboard, I try to capture not only the color palette of the design but also the general aesthetic of the brand. Based on the demographics and what the client is trying to convey, the colors, images and style all need to remain consistent with the brand story.

6. Mockups Mockups or high fidelity wireframes have color, images and general aesthetics added to the wireframes to provide a visual of what the site is going to look like in production. Mockups also help during user testing as visual aids.

Testing

Through user testing, I hope to discover what “just makes sense” for a user. When learning that people are frustrated or have difficulty understanding a part of technology, I feel the urge to help bridge the gap for them and make their experience meaningful. I analyze the potential barriers of user success, troubleshoot reasons why a misunderstanding exists, and construct solutions to create a clearer and more intuitive path.

Testing can take many forms, but I like to run at least one attitudinal user test and one behavioral test.

A survey made in Google Forms can provide answers to many of my initial questions and is a simple, free method to gain a decent amount of data from many individuals. It also helps me gather a benchmark of the general knowledge about my site’s subject.

Scenarios or user tasks combined with observation is an important part of my process throughout the website design. Receiving feedback from friends or classmates helps inform my design choices and make better decisions for the users. I ask them to perform a task that is based off of a user goal and observe them trying to complete the task. Through this method, I can identify stuck-points and problems.


Development

WordPress and Squarespace are how I primarily build sites now, however I often prototype in HTML and CSS, using Bootstrap as a CSS framework and Sass to assist. Platform choice for a project depends on the features a client wants and complexity of the website. I use PHP and JavaScript primarily for experimentation with my own site.