How I Win Bread…

WhiteboardingWhat do you do for a living?

I get this question a lot, actually. I’ve resorted to just saying “I design software”. I get great reactions; I think people are delighted at the unexpected choice of vocation. And, they probably don’t know many software designers where we live in East Tennessee, although the internet is changing that landscape.

So, let’s get down to it! What is it that I do? How do I win bread for my kiddos? Well, here goes: My real title is User Experience [UX] Architect and Product Manager.

Great! But, what does that mean exactly?

➤ I help evolve legacy enterprise systems by introducing user-centered design thinking

  • I care about users, their behavior, and their needs; I empathize with them and give them hope!
    • seriously, Developers say “no” a lot without truly empathizing
  • I consider personas and create user flows to make sense of things
    • legacy stuff is typically messy; ever heard of “spaghetti”?
  • I sketch, wireframe, and take inventory of existing views
    • people add lots of things over the years, mostly reactionary to business or user requests
  • I can prototype designs in the browser using HTML, CSS, and some javascript
    • proving out an idea visually can be worth a thousand words; also allowing stakeholders to click around and play in the browser maximizes the chance for buy in and consideration

➤ Functionality is necessary, but Users also matter….

Developers are good at functionality, but not always the go-to for the user interface; some just don’t think like that. You need someone to advocate for the users, regardless if they are external clients or internal users — they all matter. Their experiences matter because of the impacts to efficiency, confidence, and how business-critical processes get done. I have been a developer too, so I work well with these guys to inspect existing code and prototype new concepts that they can leverage during implementation.

➤ Lifing the game…

I have a background in design, though my focus is not in high polished design these days – I leave that to the much needed talented hipsters. Instead, I get great satisfaction in working through old views to help bring them up to modern specs. I also find joy in coming up with new ideas and enhancements that can help up the game with your users and adoption. With that, I can also play a Product Manager role to help fill a roadmap with new ideas and direction. This road requires a team willing to embrace change! This last bit is difficult to find, which means I have to gain trust with legacy thinkers and help them realize their own potential for great ideas. And, it ultimately works!

➤ What I do, when I’m doing my job:

  • User flows – who is doing what; what does their linear path look like; is it actually linear?
  • UX Audits – what works, what’s getting in the way, and what can we do about it
  • Wireframes – organizing proposed ideas into low fidelity renderings
  • View Inventories – what do we already have, let’s name them and explain their purpose
  • Prototypes (html and css) – this is the fun stuff, and likely reusable by the devs
  • Whiteboarding – Lead UX design workshops and whiteboarding sessions – ready to refactor and flesh out the nitty gritty details; I help facilitate the process and make sure the right people are in the room and ready to participate

➤ What I do, when I’m playing:

I love mountain biking, cooking, and being creative in art and jewelry. I read some, mostly intellectual / thinking / psychology oriented stuff. I also like to teach a bit. A year ago I helped Junior Achievement by volunteering to lead high school students through a company program, as well as middle schoolers through the JA in a Day program. I’m passionate about budgeting and coming up with plans for things, though not so rigid that there’s no room for creativity. I’m passionate about humans and helping give them the experiences they need.


A little more about me….

I am a single mom and enjoy my work in the UX field, along with plenty of quirky hobbies, as seen through my Instagram. With a career full of design and web development, I have managed to evolve my skills into highly engaged UX positions, remotely, from little ole’ Cleveland, TN for the last five years. It’s here at home that I enjoy the mountains, rivers, and trails of the region with my kiddos and significant other.

I have helped lead UX efforts for many interfaces and business processes, including Salesforce AppExchange apps, speaker portals in the pharmaceutical speaker bureau market, and recognition and engagement platforms. I’ve worked as a consultant as well as a member of creative agencies and enterprise departments in roles of designer, front end developer, and user experience designer.

As for those hobbies I mentioned, you can consider drawing, watercolor, knitting, singing, and photographing flowers and little worlds among my most enjoyed. As for being active outside, mountain biking is a challenging interest made fun on my Trek Lush. Most things outdoors involving sunshine, water, and flowers pique my interest pretty quickly. And for chill, I cherish coffee and convo with my favorite humans, probably with Tycho playing in the background.

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