May 29, 2017
I've joined Toptal
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.
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.
Contact me if that's you and you would like to be featured on an upcoming episode.
I have started guest blogging again. Here are some recent publications:
- 5 User Research Pitfalls to Avoid, for The Product Guy
- Make New Product Features Stick, for The Product Guy
- How to Prioritize User Feedback to Build Better Products, for Brainleaf
- Try This Website Teardown “Twist” to Know What Stops Real Users From Converting, for Business 2 Community
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
I am currently working on consulting projects for several other clients and am open to both new projects and partnerships. Contact me for availability.
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.
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
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.
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.