About Me

I’m a PhD candidate in Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, where I earned my Master’s in 2010, studying the role of technology in mindfulness practices through ethnography and participant observation. I’ve been in love with user research since , which I ran for Earthlink in 2006. Since then, I’ve expanded my UR repertoire across the cycle of product development, from to evaluating use of existing technologies and everything in between .

With a background in technical communication and creative writing, I bring skill in clearly communicating ideas to particular audiences for particular purposes, as well as an active imagination and the ability to give form to what’s in my mind. These, coupled with what I’ve gained from my research experiences, make me a great fit for a company that values and requires high standards of work, out-of-the-box thinking, sensitivity, flexibility, and curiosity, and has no room for dogma.

My Approach to User Research, and Human Interaction
In all the courses I teach in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, a core concept I strive to help my students—future user experience designers and researchers—understand is, “People’s just people.” I attempt to teach them this by explaining the important of soft skills, but mainly through my interactions with them: I treat them like they’re normal people and like I’m a normal person. This is my approach to user research and all other person-to-person communication. What I mean is, warm interaction, lack of pretense, mutual respect, and a sense of humor. Whether I’m interviewing a participant, communicating my results to a higher-up, writing a cover letter, collaborating with a team, or giving a lecture, I hope I make the interaction an easy and pleasant one.

Why I Love User Research
When I ask my fellow UXers and user researchers why they do what they do, they often respond, “Because I love people, and I want to help them.” I’m that way, too, but I think that’s only half the story. There are many ways to help people. User research is important because it helps inform the design of products that affect people’s lives . I see humans and technology as partners in a reciprocal relationship: they affect one another. This is important. I see including user perspectives, opinions, feelings, values, and experiences in the design of products as an ethical responsibility.

Plus, it’s fun. Real fun.