May 29, 2017

I've joined Toptal

Toptal is a network of elite freelancers in development, design, and finance.  They are known for a rigorous screening process that accepts only 3% of applicants.

I became Top Rated on Upwork nearly 2 years ago.  This year, I needed to branch out.  I passed the screening process and went live on Toptal several weeks ago.  View my Toptal profile here.

Trying the digital nomad life

My fiancée and I have an around-the-world adventure planned for this summer.  For me, this means I'll work from overseas for most of the 5+ weeks that I will be out of the country.  I'll try my best to keep most of my work schedule on U.S. time.

One reason I originally wanted to work for myself was geographic flexibility.  This will be the biggest chance yet to take advantage of that.


My first ebook is now available. Buy UX for Development Shops here.

This ebook shows development shops - especially those in what Jakob Nielsen calls “developer-centered usability” - how to give their product more staying power with their target audiences, whether in their version 1 / MVP or a future release.  

Want to read some of it?  Get the first 2 chapters of UX for Development Shops for free now.

Video series

For the Thrill & Create Facebook page, I recorded episodes of a biweekly video series, More Than an Interface (>UI), where I talked with developers, UX practitioners, and development shop owners.

Contact me if that's you and you would like to be featured on an upcoming episode.  

Guest posts

I have started guest blogging again.  Here are some recent publications:

Please contact me if you would like for me to write for a blog that discusses any combination of UX, user research, design, development, project management, and product management.


From January to July 2017, I completed a business academy for consultants.  I worked with 7 subject matter experts on the following:

  • Improving my business’s positioning

  • Understanding my target market better

  • Creating services and messaging that will help them more

  • Automating some of my admin work and client intake processes

  • Improving my advertising

  • Influencing my target market at scale with more relevant content

New iOS app & services

Working with Sweetpea Mobile in a Research & Design Demo, I released a new iOS app for DC Trails in April 2017.

I am currently working on consulting projects for several other clients and am open to both new projects and partnerships.  Contact me for availability.

Books I'm reading


How I got here


My development career

Fifteen years ago, I started studying software development. When I first went into industry in 2007, I became a tester on a large mainframe application that processed tens of millions of U.S. tax refunds.

Eventually, to switch back to development, I moved to a mid-sized shop, then two small companies.  I shipped software successfully in all 4 companies.  Along the way, I became a Satellite Tool Kit (STK) Certified Rocket Scientist.


Going independent

In 2012, I faced a crossroads in my development career.  It came down to root causes.  

Does robust architecture and clean code matter if people don’t want to use your product?  A v1 or MVP can get you customers or funding, but does that matter if the features you want in the next release will make your product too complex?

I believe many dev shops just assume that if they build a product, their potential users will want it.  That can be overly optimistic.

So, since I had been studying human-computer interaction since 2006, I opened my full-time, independent consulting shop, with 2 goals for my clients:

  • Build products that matter to their target audiences

  • Attract and retain these users long-term

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I have niched down twice.  

First, I aimed to become the amusement and attractions industry’s go-to person in my field.  This had more to do with my own passion for that industry than their interest in my services.  I landed work with them sporadically and really enjoyed it.  I even got to ride a roller coaster and two exciting flat rides at their biggest trade show of 2014.  But I had to take on projects outside their industry to stay afloat.

Now, I focus specifically on helping development shops (including business-minded independent developers) to increase their retention and sales by building products that their target audiences want.


Why dev shops?

Many people enter my field from graphic design or marketing.  They can produce beautiful design.  

But they often don’t account for edge cases that developers rightfully see as obvious.  Or they don’t give developers clear enough guidance for implementation.  Or their design ideas don’t properly consider implementation difficulty.

That leads to extensive, costly revisions and often unintended animosity between designers and developers.

I work with developers again now because few others in my field really understand what developers need.  I don't consider myself a "unicorn" who does everything from production code to illustration, but a strategist who helps development shops solve the right problems for their products' audiences.

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A lifestyle business

Ultimately, my goal is to build a business that supports my lifestyle.  I enjoy working out outside in the afternoons when my schedule permits.  Since that means I work a lot of evenings, I can let users throughout the world help my clients as we build better products.  

I run my own business by choice, and I want to treat my time as a scarce resource that I can use to help others build the products that support the lives they want too.


Portfolio samples


Start improving your product now.

I started studying development in 2002 and user-centered design in 2006. I used that experience to write "the book" on digital UX strategy for developers.

The first 2 chapters show you how to improve your product using what you're already doing as a developer.

Get these 2 chapters for free in your inbox today.