Services for agencies & user experience design studios
I approach client digital strategies from three starting points. Good design requires research on your clients' business, marketing objectives, their users or customers, and technology products that can serve as an intersection for common interests.
I document goals, provide business and user insights, then articulate plans that are actionable for designers and engineers. I'm often teamed up with them to execute.
The consistent theme of my counsel is deep investigation into a business and brand while accounting for human motivations, physical environments, and economic & business factors. I'm at least as deferential to your clients' customers and users as I am to their business and desire to deliver a brand message. I will remind you of that often.
Client Discovery and Scoping
I quickly scan all of the available insights, materials, desires, and SOWs to determine activities to build a successful client strategy. I've been exposed to many agency discovery models and can help you determine what's truly critical, what's there to provide helpful color, and what's fluff. Then we can plot the activities with your account and project management/production team to assure an insightful and profitable engagement. I want to delight your clients and grow your account. A thoughtful discovery provides the foundation for that to happen.
While UX-oriented consultancies tend to be most effective at scoping user research--and I always advocate for as much as possible--I'm used to working lean when it comes to building an empathic design for customer and user experience. I will find the best ways to formulate and facilitate field ethnography, lab-based usability testing, call-center observation & interviews, and, sparingly, marketing focus groups. I've conducted multicity user studies that could stand up to academic rigor as well as street intercepts for quick nuggets of insight. I also partner with top-tier researchers and laboratories with national and global reach.
Social & Mobile Planning & Design
We've all been around "social media consultants" or mobile "experts" who assume expertise because they personally waste hours every day on Facebook, Twitter, and various devices. That's not to say time on the platforms isn't valuable, but most of these consultants think about how to use social media in a manipulative way. Going "viral" is about understanding the business, the right users, creating great content, and designing respectfully for the best interactions. I've both designed social/mobile experiences for companies and I've managed large-scale corporate social media programs. I'll likely help you build a great social and mobile experience that benefits users and your business--and be a partner to your design and engineering team. I'm not as sure about your SVP's son who is home on summer break. He smells like beer and is staring at your account exec when he's not heads-down tweeting something inane about bacon. I smell like Lever2000 and am quite willing to pocket my smartphone when its time to formulate a meaningful experience.
A primary output of research is insights about users and customer your client is trying to reach more effectively. My personas have been called "state-of-the-art" by analysts at Forrester Research because I don't create them for advertising per se. I create them to build sequential experiences that find common ground with natural human behavior. However, for advertising, I've also found that personas can reveal a different dimension to demographic segmentation which we can derive through quantitative means. I also have experience creating segments for display and search advertising that are a combination of proprietary, purchased, and observed behaviors through cookies. For any Web product strategy, however, I will strongly recommend personas derived from direct behavioral observation and interviews. If you've assumed behaviors and haven't observed them directly, then you don't yet have true personas; just interesting works of fiction. I'll create segmentation that stands up to the rigors of the design process and user acceptance.
Business stakeholder interviews
I'm polished and very safe to put in front of your most senior C-level executives, managers, and specialists. I interview in a semistructured manner that allows stakeholders at all levels of the organization to speak more than I do. These chats tend to lead to new people to interview and new documents and research to absorb. I use all of these in crafting your clients' strategies. This effort helps clients better articulate a common, simplified set of business goals and opportunities, which is foundational to the strategy and critical for client acceptance (and applause) for creative work and design concepts.
I can conduct research as a first-party analyst as well as interpret third-party research to derive implications for business problems. This includes category or industry analysis, market sizing, emerging trends & factors, technology vendor reviews, and competitive analyses. I summarize like a butterfly, SWOT like a bee. If the problem demands, I'll Venn, double-axis, and magic quadrant--or visualize our new insights into something much better.
During persona research I collect a lot of behavioral data because I assume that user scenarios will be useful to a design team. The scenarios give design teams a sense of timing, tasks, sequence, and opportunities for revealing excellent content, task support, and key interactions.
Clients often find helpful a visual explanation of various properties, features, vendors, and content. This gives a big-picture view into the universe of Web, mobile, and other platforms while also helping them visualize the aggregate customer experience and its interplay with critical business processes and systems. It is a simple, visual rationale for large systemic investment. It removes different client teams' barriers to creating the best possible experience.
While I'm primarily interested in performing brand planning so we have a clear picture of overall customer experience, I find that co-presenting a creative brief with consumer insights, unmet needs, and scenarios is often excellent fodder for conceptual creative-led experience definition. I also assure the most emotional brand experiences are appropriately employed with various digital platforms. I believe in the power of brand and am a creative partner in executing through the right experiences. But I will also keep your agency from doing something unfeasible that will kill the account's budget or cause the growing geek faction in all market segments to disregard or even make fun of an otherwise great concept.
User Experience Design
Once a behavioral segmentation and user scenarios are complete, I wireframe experiences to a fairly high degree of fidelity so that visual designers or a creative team can account for flow, required elements, and how different interactions should work. I have experience designing for desktop and mobile browsers. My strategic background also allows me to tell you which ones to design and why. Visual Designers and Engineers like my design specs because they describe the interplay between human and system behavior, with detailed explanation of interactions and page states.
Data Targeting Strategies
I've created strategies for companies trying to gain incremental performance for display and search ads. These combine segment data from proprietary data marts, cookie match, location data, timing, and site behavior to improve reach and relevance and reduce impression waste. I've worked closely with corporate legal counsel to make targeting better without infringing on laws that protect individuals and their personally identifiable information (PII). My work has impacted tens of millions of dollars in ad spending.