As the company’s first employee and original architect of the CMS, I played a formative design role. In early days, I was lead developer for many core tools. As the company grew and expanded to 55 employees, I assumed a product design role: crafting specifications, prototypes, and UI flows to help my fellow developers and designers succeed.
In every role, I have strived to understand, support, and enable diverse users. I design experiences that are simple for beginners yet flexible enough for pros, so that everyone can contribute and succeed in the new media landscape.
Role: Product design and strategy. Full-stack application development. UI/UX. API design. Database design and development. Evangelism, documentation, and support.
So much depends upon the API.
APIs are the developer’s UI. They allow an ecosystem to flourish and create new possibilities for creative reuse. APIs should be easy to use, easy to adopt, and flexible enough to power sophisticated interfaces across diverse platforms.
For my team, I proposed and developed a summit to explore the craft of API design and development in some depth. Together, we discussed design principles, implementation alternatives, and the specific choices prominent API providers have made, for better or worse. From this, I wrote style and usage guides about the many facets of successful API design.
I have designed APIs for several critical tools. They have been well received by tech-savvy users, and now provide us a solid foundation for future development. To learn from the best, I attended the API Strategy and Practice conference.
Role: API design. Product strategy. Developer experience. Training and documentation.
Serving sites since 1996.
In my first year with Emmis Interactive, I proposed and executed a big strategy to launch their eclectic portfolio of 23 radio station websites. The plan worked: “webmasters” with widely varying skill sets were able to manage sites effectively, and a solid groundwork was laid for the company’s future growth and evolution.
First, I developed a basic design framework and a flexible template library, then a variety of syndicated content widgets. I automated the tedious, manual tasks required to produce site graphics and assets and reduced the time to launch a site from days to hours.
In subsequent years, the platform evolved into a specialized web page publishing platform and attracted a diverse portfolio of media clients. Today, it supports more than 300 diverse websites serving many millions of pages daily: powerhouse radio sites like Hot97 and traditional print sites like Los Angeles Magazine and Atlanta Magazine.
Role: Product strategy and design. Web design and development. Automation.
Create once, publish everywhere.
To enable clients beyond desktop browsers, new thinking is required. I strive to understand what’s possible, what’s promising, and what’s practical in the rapidly evolving world of multi-platform web development. I recently built Oleander Aesthetics using basic responsive web design techniques.
For my coworkers, I initiated and guided an eight-week workshop to explore first steps with modern web app development. Many developers and designers signed on and we spent our lunch time to learn and develop new skills together.
Our experiment was a success. It gave us fresh perspectives, a shared vocabulary, and hands-on experience with modern client-side development: Backbone.js, MVC/MV*, SPA architecture, and TDD. Workshop participants now use these techniques for personal projects, and we’ve launched mobile-optimized sites grounded in this approach.
Role: Product strategy. Web design and development. API Design. Training.
Sophisticated blog and article management.
This flexible publishing tool provides every familiar features that basic and power users expect, and then some. It’s simple enough for busy content producers that need to push basic blog posts; yet nuanced enough to support sophisticated content strategies for online magazines. This tool’s rich feature set allowed us to sunset several legacy tools and to attract clients with sophisticated needs.
With designing this tool, I wanted to help everyday users to publish and present on every platform and device. Users probably don’t think much about features like adaptive image resizing, clean and semantic HTML from Markdown, friendly URL routing, or the powerful API… but they like that the tool is easy to use and ready for browsers and phones. I worked hard to hide the complexities of responsive and adaptive design from them.
Role: Product strategy and design. API design. UX design. UI development. Documentation and training.
Community curation made simple.
The task was to help clients connect their audiences with local businesses and brands. To this end, I designed the Guidable product. It’s a minimal and focused tool: simple to manage, but flexible enough to inspire diverse ideas.
With Guidable, clients create all manner of guides. These may be theme-based features, regional spotlights, or “best of” lists. Some add rich wedding and restaurant sections to their sites. Others drive entire business listing sites with it.
It’s easy for them to make rich business profiles with handy metadata, and easier still for users to find these using an intuitive interface and faceted search. Clients then get creative: they curate profiles with manual and “smart” lists. They connect their audience to local brands, and use built-in sponsorship opportunities to generate additional value and revenue.
Role: Product strategy and design. Information architecture. UX design. UI development.