The old left brain/right brain trope. Either you’re a boring and rational left brain person or you’re a creative but flaky right brainer. Well, somehow I’ve become a very effective combination of both. Perhaps it was my years of training as a theatrical director - on one hand, you’re working with actors, designers and writers, coming up with ideas and staging, basically creating the entire theatre-going experience. And on the other hand, you’re wrangling the actors, staff and crew, creating schedules, timelines and budgets, basically being in charge of the whole thing actually happening. Or being a band leader, as I am currently with Wild Bells. Writing songs and coming up with parts, but also coordinating album releases and Kickstarter projects and scheduling practices and shows that work for five other very busy people.
The same is true with my experiences at Thetus Corporation, PCD Group and Site9. Not only have I created the wireframes, prototypes and GUI design for web sites and applications, but I devise the information architecture, do user testing and research, write copy and marketing collateral - and at Site9, I project managed them as well and often acted as account executive to boot.
I started at Site9 in 2003, where we built many successful eCommerce sites for such clients as Made in Oregon, Storables, and Kobos Coffee. When I work on a design for a project, I’m not just seeing it with narrow designer eyes: I’m viewing it with the whole big picture in mind, including implementation, user experience, SEO and marketing. Having worn so many hats at Site9, including holding the position of Client Services Director at the same time as being Creative Director, has given me a unique set of skills that make me an extraordinarily effective designer.
I had a very enjoyable and productive time at Site9, but in 2008 the company decided to focus on their software product ProtoShare and discontinue all web development. I was the user experience and GUI designer for Protoshare and learned a lot about software application design and development. I was happy to help with the ProtoShare launch and marketing as well as with getting the customer service department off the ground, but my real passion was for design and creative development. I realized that without much need for creative work, it was time for me to seek a new opportunity.
I next worked at PCD Group from 2009-2014, where I focused primarily on user experience and design. We worked almost exclusively with Citibank, creating intranet and public-facing web sites and applications. Though a fairly small firm, PCD Group competes successfully with larger East Coast firms and has won many large contracts, including one of Citi’s flagship sites, Women & Co.
As Sr. Interactive/User Experience Designer, I was responsible for creating the UX (and often the design) for all our projects. These ranged from designing a lifestyle/blog site like Women & Co. to wrangling the massive amounts of data and information on one of their intranet sites. One of my biggest projects at PCD was redesigning Citi’s main internal website Citigroup.net, which is accessed daily by all of their global employees for the latest corporate news and information. And I created and designed the CMS that powers it.
I was involved with all aspects of user experience design. I did the initial research and interviews with the client, creating site analysis and user research documents, screen flows and wireframes (and often the GUI) and then finally the functional requirements before passing off to the development team. One strong example for this is the UX design I did for Citi's updated YouTube channel.
Most recently, I worked at Thetus Corporation, where I was a senior user experience designer of their Savanna software. Savanna is a powerful collaborative analysis tool used by the military. It requires very complicated and thorough design work (and a large engineering team) to make it easy to use. Based on user research and testing, I created wireframes and prototypes that successfully translated complex ideas into a simple and easy-to-use interface. I then worked closely with Product and Engineering to implement my designs in a fast-paced agile process.
I was also the Design Lead, managing a design team of four people (including UX and visual designers). I worked closely with the team on design and mentored less experienced designers. And I was responsible for the design team vision and productivity.
A little more about me...
I’m a first-generation American of Austrian-German heritage, and grew up speaking German around the house. I was born in Washington, DC, but grew up in a very small farming village in rural Ohio. I received a BFA in Directing for the Theater from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and a MFA in Directing for the Theater from Tulane University in New Orleans.
While in school I worked on a myriad of creative projects. I directed and acted in many theatrical productions. I was also a member of two improv comedy groups and wrote and performed a sketch comedy show for a local Dayton TV station. I did a lot of writing at this time - I had short stories and poetry published in the Wright State literary magazine, and won an award for one of them. I wrote 3 plays (all of which were produced) and one screenplay. I also wrote a comic strip for the Tulane student paper.
While in grad school in New Orleans, I started playing music with some fellow students. This evolved into my first band, the House Levelers. Much to our surprise, the band was quickly successful and making music became my creative priority. The band toured incessantly, appeared in national press and on MTV and was signed to a local New Orleans label. Our record was produced by the late, great Jim Dickinson (Replacements, Big Star, Bob Dylan) and was released in 1991 to universal confusion.
After a few years, the band broke up, but I continued to pursue music as a career. I moved to Portland in 1995 and played in several more bands and released more records (including with Noisecandy, The State Flowers, King Black Acid and Wild Bells) and opened Flabby Road, a small recording studio. By the end of the 90’s, I was ready for something new. After some soul-searching and friend-asking, I enrolled in the Multimedia program at PCC and received my certificate in 2001. I soon came to love design, and worked tirelessly to become good at. In 2003, after a year or so of freelancing, I landed a job at Site9 - and that takes us back to the beginning. Except to mention that my family and I bid farewell to Portland and moved to Bend, Oregon in December of 2015.