Selected projects

📓 Rumors handbook

I worked for three years at Rumors, a small interdisciplinary design studio, in a hybrid strategist and producer role. One of my jobs was to propose and guide refinements to our methodology so we could provide better service to our clients and more sanity in our day-to-day operations. After assessing the state of the studio with employee and client interviews, I guided the adoption of more agile practices. Over time, as we settled on rituals, software, and artifacts that worked for us, I wrote an open source handbook inspired by Thoughtbot and 18F. It documented and codified studio practices, improved new employee onboarding, and helped to set client expectations. The handbook was meant to be a living document – in other words, it’s still a bit incomplete.

🔵 Sister City

The Ace hotels team contracted Rumors to develop a web-based tool for their new “lean luxe” hotel in New York City. Working closely with Ace engineers, we built a platform that connects multiple hospitality software services behind the facade of an elegantly simple website. We provided content strategy, UX design, front-end, back-end, and API design services. It was a complex piece of software, with a deep set of features: a hotel room availability calendar matrix, user accounts, a service requests dashboard, reservation management, and the usual photo galleries and text content. (This somehow makes it sound simpler than it was!)

One the many challenges of the project was how to account for publishing and editing site content. The slim budget left no room for a CMS, but there was plenty of content to manage. We needed a simple way for the relatively non-technical Ace writers to update words that a website user would encounter – the brand had a very clear voice, and the wrong word could ruin a customer’s experience. I collaborated with the API engineer, back-end developer, and designer to create a solution: the site’s administrators edit most text in a Markdown or YAML file in a GitHub repository, and our Vue and JSON system grabs the content as needed. I also provided training and a content guide to help orient new editors.

Before all this, I worked in tandem with our designer to create empathy maps and personas, which we used to guide content strategy, feature development, and UX design.

💣 BOMB

While at Rumors, I served as lead strategist on a website redesign for BOMB, a 30-year-old arts magazine. Overall, my aim with the new site was to help visitors understand BOMB’s projects and history without a lot of labor. This meant encouraging lateral movement and moments of discovery by connecting formerly siloed channels, and providing a scalable structure that prioritized content resources and supported growth and cross-platform compatibility.

We completely restructured BOMB’s content, standardizing taxonomies and language, and creating new content relationships. The back-end content model made it easier for administrators to create platform agnostic structured content. On the front-end, navigable category types (based on subject medium and article format) subtly framed BOMB’s articles and provided high-level context to website visitors. Working with the digital editor, I created a controlled vocabulary for tags to better surface archival articles, and supplied new CMS tools for editorial groupings outside the standard print magazine and online-only divide.

📕 Folio

Folio is the web-based CMS and fulfillment software used by Verso Books, the largest radical publishing house in the English-speaking world. Early in my tenure at Rumors, I performed a rigorous audit and analysis of the software, evaluating shortcomings and suggesting improvements in an exhaustive document along with interactive wireframes. I also conducted user interviews with editorial, engineering, and executive staff to assess pain points and discover desired improvements.

⚖️ H2O

H2O is a platform for creating, sharing, and remixing open course materials, created by the Library Innovation Lab (LIL) at Harvard Law School. The goal of this project was to create a static prototype demonstrating a compelling vision of H2O. How might it best serve students and professors of law? Which elements are used most? What functionalities might we introduce or remove to enhance the user experience?

I audited the software from a UX perspective, and conducted interviews with professors, students, and the engineers maintaining the software. I arrived at solutions from two angles: creation and consumption. The users creating casebooks were an entirely different kind, with different technical facilities, than the ones reading and studying the casebooks.

We encouraged the LIL team to to embrace the fundamental experience of the casebook, to focus on the experience of reading and the art of getting out of the way. We streamlined the UI language, moving away from the somewhat outdated “playlist” metaphor in favor of direct, plain language and conceptual consistency. Clear language guides the user toward the goal of the software – to create and adapt casebooks for use in the classroom.

Designer Dan O. Williams (he’s also my husband) and I worked together to create prototype wireframes and fully designed screens for several key components, flows, and actions. Along with these design files, we delivered a project brief covering design principles, attributes, and an overall strategy for framing solutions.

📜 The Nuremberg Project

LIL’s Nuremberg Project is an initiative to provide open access to the Library’s complete set of Nuremberg documents and information about the trials. The goal of this project was to represent the full spectrum of the collection — over a million pages — and relate the transcripts and documents in an engaging, accessible way for both scholars the public. The prototype I created provides better transcript and document navigation and a simplified, robust search. It grants users access to documents in a coherent way, with a model for location and discovery, and showcases the collection — its extent, scope, and importance to world heritage. It is also meant to attract donations for its further development.

Workshops and discussions with LIL yielded a complete overhaul of the site’s content strategy, presenting keyword search as the primary site action, and introducing the idea of editorialized “approaches” to the collection, inviting exploration and discovery by surfacing popular searches, like a defendant or prosecutor’s name, or trial keywords and topics, like euthanasia or war crimes.

I created wireframes with increasing levels of fidelity before building a static prototype using Sketch and InVision. Along with the prototype, I also provided support documentation for the site’s strategy and design beyond the prototype phase and extensive text edits.

📊 “Alive and Well”

Williams College wanted to gather data on a campus building’s energy use and communicate that data in a dynamic and compelling way to the building’s occupants and other people and institutions. But how? Williams invited me to consult on the design process for this yet-to-be-created tool. My goal was to help determine the project audience and recommend potential solutions. Who is interested in this building’s energy use? How might they engage with this information? How could we foster meaningful, interactive experiences?

Over the course of two months, I worked with project stakeholders and potential users, including faculty, staff, students, and members of the community, to understand the project context and articulate and prioritize specific project goals. I facilitated two one-hour meetings with the stakeholder team and conducted over twenty hourlong exploratory interviews with potential users across a targeted cross-section of of the Williams community.

Throughout the design research process, the team referred to the outcome of the project as “the tool.” During our meetings and interviews, it became clear that the tool wasn’t any one thing, but a number of interrelated technologies and approaches. At the end of the project, I delivered a report synthesizing and outlining what we worked together to create — describing the specific project goals, audiences, and potential features — and a recommended path forward that was sensitive to the college’s time and resources.

➕ n+1

n+1 is an organization with a magazine at its center, from which other projects and publications emerge. At the start, the website sidelined the group’s non-magazine projects and publications, and privileged the non-subscriber by offering over ten years of meticulously crafted content for free.

I worked with n+1’s designer to completely revamp the site strategy and update the visual design. We reconfigured the site as a subscription based, paywalled platform, establishing a content hierarchy that highlights magazine subscriptions and books, with a clear distinction between these and other content. Visually, the site continues to reflect the design sensibility of the print magazine, recontextualized as a responsive, device-agnostic digital platform.