Your product is exciting! Whether you have software, a mobile app, or simply that good old-fashioned website, the user experience should appear as a cycle. You want the product to launch fast, provide the tools to get the job done, and leave users happy to come back anytime.
How do you unlock this achievement?
My name is Stephen Woodall, and I have provided design and development leadership in user experience, interaction design, and web design for 7+ years. From healthcare to corrections, my professional work has inspired the conventional to support responsive web design, creative branding, and best practice for UX in today's market.
How can I help enhance your product?
Spotting a bad design or attempting a convoluted workflow is easy. You cringe in horror or flip tables in frustration. Creating an intuitive and refined replacement, however, is the challenge I accept each day.
As a UI designer / developer, Stephen has three excellent attributes that will make him stand out as an asset on your team: he's VERY dependable, has good communication skills, and takes ownership of his work.…
I had the pleasure of working with Stephen on the UI team at Corrisoft for the better part of a year, and can attest to his fantastic work attitude and pride in delivering solid user interface design principles.
As your manager or employer, you won't need to hand-hold Stephen; he demonstrates a strong work ethic, a real willingness to learn, and is flexible in both his approach to solving problems and shifting priorities.
As a co-worker, he will be a good communicator and team player, putting collaboration and co-operation above any self-interests.
Stephen always goes above and beyond, and I can highly recommend him for your team.
During my time with Corrisoft we worked very closely together to build new user friendly workflows and improve the user experience of a web based product for case management of probation and parole participants. Stephen was instrumental in improving and expanding the application… He is very talented and would be a great addition to any team. If I had an open position I would hire him immediately.
Stephen started working we me part-time while he was still in school at Purdue University and later came on full-time. Stephen was a lot of fun to work with, because he really gets behind your vision and does his "magic" to make that vision come to life in ways that others can easily recognize and understand.…
It was a delight to watch this young professional grow and thrive in his role which allowed me to promote him into new and more challenging postions.
We were sad when he moved to Kentucky but still keep in touch and hope to work with him again in the future.
There better be UI/UX tools on deck, ready to bear the user's request. Making the excuse that it cannot be done is like locking the armory and setting it ablaze.
Adobe has such a diverse suite of applications that get the job done. From Photoshop to Illustrator to Premiere to After Effects to everything inbetween, each program has its forté and advantage over the competition. Once you learn your way past the inital barriers of entry, be ready to provide only strong visual components to each project.
Do you like to multitask? Well, if you are building a complex program or product to sell, you are going to have a plethora of parts in motion. Because said parts will require collaboration and iterations of design, development, and testing, it is important to setup for an agile work environment. Atlassian can help with that.
Moving from SVN, I enjoyed the transition over to Git. We discovered its powerful (and open source) version control system! It is fast, handles branching well, and allows to easily distribute code and software across various locations without causing those pesky and damaging conflicts. GitLab takes it to a whole new level of awesome.
Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets are robust and make building custom themes a cinch. Although I can still weave through a stack of CSS files, nothing beats a pre-processor to consolidate and refine the look and feel of a project. Every designer/developer will have their preference, however I enjoy working with SASS and seeing where they go next.
Homecare By Design (HBD) is a go-to agency that provides local homecare solutions. Visionary, Traci Goudy, has years of experience in the industry, along with a passion for helping families with an elder loved one. She introduced the need for a Community without Walls. This recent program proactively engages seniors in the community with activities, no matter what their living situation is. Traci has been extremely successful in Indiana as a small business leader for the Greater Lafayette area.
How does my role fit in? Behind the vision, there is always the need to develop and communicate said vision via media. I started as a summer intern and left as the Director of Business Growth and Development. During my time with HBD, I grew as a creative professional, honed my technical skills, and targeted my passion toward building ideal user experiences both on and offline.
Below are a few areas of contribution I provided to this award-winning agency.
Bringing knowledge and skills using Adobe products, I was able to design pieces for various forms of media. From online and social media outlets to banners, print-outs, and training materials, my portfolio with HBD was diverse to say the least. However, one thing was constant throughout every piece: the color pink! Traci's favorite color was weaved throughout every marketing brochure, every banner advertisement, every business card, and every newsletter shared with the community.
Several marketing agencies questioned the inclusion of such a bright color, stating it was, "...hard to work with." However I saw its purpose. A reminder to the elders using the services, as well as their adult children simply looking for reliable care, the pink color meant an active senior lifestyle. Instead of resorting to dull browns, grays, and neutrals, we chose a different path.
We were an agency of vitality and spirit. Encouraging activity and lifelong education, Traci's vision stood out from the everyday. And, I was there alongside to help launch this multigraphics campaign including growing the website experience, online social media presence, and internal education of policies and procedures with our caregivers.
In homecare, there are many cases of abuse and neglect across-the-board with all ages, which is truly unfortunate. Even more unfortunate is when a business takes advantage of their elder clients and robs them of their dignity, love, and even their valuables! This is the foundation for a better solution which is faith-based. We introduced the Care2Share concept to reach out in all directions. From caregivers employed by the agency to clients dependent on the care provided, every person connected to HBD deserved to be part of our progress and passion for providing quality homecare solutions.
Care2Share (C2S) began as a monthly newsletter with the slogan, "Because we Care2Share." The newsletter was informative and great for communicating relevant news. However, it was not enough for our agency to grow. So, Traci and I created the Care2Share network. I launched an internal social network using Ning.com where our caregivers, or members, could log in from the field and keep connected. Resources were shared, news was posted, and the collaborative spirit grew with each new contribution.
Alongside the C2S work, we established the PINK Philosophy at HBD. This was an employee reminder to always be Positive, with Integrity, Nurturing, and Knowledgeable. To educate and relate this concept during HR orientation, I created the character Caregiver Kim. A fun avatar I designed based on our first Caregiver of the Month recipient, Kim guided employees through HBD's policies, expectations, and otherwise dull requirements by the state that they needed to know. The vector character also made appearances throughout brochures, blogs, and materials used to promote our agency.
As our agency developed, Traci encouraged me to reach out through local events, charities, and opportunities to grow our business. Using visual tools I set up for the agency, our branding ensured that the area knew Homecare By Design. I worked with several other managers to promote our mission statement. I brought TEAM PINK to life on T-shirts and designs, so people would spot the group of pink at various events. I represented the company, and relayed Traci's vision to potential clients and partners in the area. Before I moved to Lexington, Kentucky, I became involved with the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and assisted the city on HBD's behalf. This was an honor and experience unlike anything I imagined outside of college.
Through our hard work and promotion through events like Lemonade Day, our agency was awarded Small Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. Upon receiving this award, Traci and I realized a milestone was reached supporting her vision. From there, the team could continue to grow and build her Community without Walls. Sometimes having the right creative skills and passion can accomplish so much in a short timeline. I was excited to contribute to a chapter in the HBD story.
AIR (Alternative to Incarceration via Rehabilitation) is an offender monitoring system solution for community-based agencies and supervision officers. This web-based platform is the monitoring and case management counterpart to our AIR Mobile App, available to participants enrolled in the program.
As Senior UI Designer, I provided more than just the simple mockups and colors to imagine how the software should look. I worked with teams to design, prototype, develop, and test the product. Customers would request a feature/enhancement/fix, the Product Owner would share with me, and we would start the process of development.
Below are a few areas of improvement I provided to AIR while working for Corrisoft.
Many AIR features were directly guided by my decisions advocating for the user experience. In a market filled with both conservative and progressive users, it was crucial for me to design keeping the novice, advanced, and veteran user in mind.
We kept existing UX behaviors in check while adopting more current trends in the world of web software. Design discussions, review of mockups/prototypes, and iterative work with Development/QA/Product Management were a few of my tasks during any given sprint.
During my time at Corrisoft, we transitioned over to SASS (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets), and we never looked back as a team. From a design standpoint, I was able to create a cleaner UI with more icons, more visual hierarchy, and much better hover/active states. From a technical standpoint, compiling .scss files into its .css counterpart just made code much more manageable. Views were consolidated, the MVC was 'normalized', and we provided better mixins, partials, and modules to build the new, while continuing to fix the old.
Not using SASS, LESS, or anything that compiles stylesheets creates 1000x the workload. Code should always do the heavy lifting, leaving you to build something easy to interact with and simply beautiful.
Tell me your story.
While most would begin with and hear, "Once upon a time in a far off land nowhere near reality…"
I tend to hear instead, "I have this great idea that I want to grow into a business and share with the world. If only I had the creative professional to kickoff my vision…"
I share this because with small businesses, entreprenuers, and the occasional spirited individual, there is always someone telling you one of the following:
A) "Why bother?"
B) "If you bother, it will cost you a fortune."
C) "If you really bother and manage to accrue some stockpile of fortunes, someone else is going to come in, do it better for cheaper, and blast your existence off the face of this planet…"
Let me announce that your idea is too exciting not to come to life! A startup is where passion is found. It is where big businesses look to for inspiration and stimulation in today's economy. You are the trendsetter, the innovator, the mover and shaker that will take us to the next generation! I want to help however I am meant to, with the skills I have been gifted with and sharpened.
Who are you? Are you one word? Are you a catchy phrase or tune stuck on repeat, forever… except not annoying? I have had the pleasure working with talented individuals whose vision will drive them to success. Sometimes the biggest barrier of entry is defining yourself, your business, and your own expectations. Sometimes it is a logo or a vector design. Other times, you may be missing a basic informational website focused on who you are and what you do. Unlike some mass-production website companies (sorry Wix and Squarespace), you do not have time to waste on the technical know-how related to getting your business online. This is where I assist.
The UX profesisonal in me is focused on simplifying this part of the story. Let's review your needs, priorities, and of course, budget. You don't have the towering money building like Scrooge McDuck. So, start small and design smart with room to grow as your young business reaches milestones.
Oh, and don't worry about get it perfect the first time. Like your business, your identity will evolve and change several times before settling on the Nike swoosh or McDonald's golden arch. Let's make it a fun and exciting, not stressful and frustrating, experience.
You may be familar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as an online, widely-accepted practice. However, I have instilled another relevant practice with businesses since I entered the professional realm. SMO (Social Media Optimization) is equally as important, whether you are an individual, group, or large organization. It is essentially designing and maintaining a healthy online presence. Have you Googled yourself recently? Do you post online things that you would not want Grandma to see…? You may swear off social media, but someone somewhere has shared a picture with you in it. Therefore, the Internet knows who you are.
OK, let's not get scared off the grid. All this means is that your SMO is important. How often you blog, the last comment you made on a YouTube video, another upvote to your favorite meme on Reddit: Every action you take online should be done with your best foot forward. This doesn't mean everything online is done to perfection. It just means that you have the power to pick and choose your online presence.
For any business, I always emphasize quality over quantity. Anything poorly planned or lacking substance will result in white noise and quick dismissal. Those looking to participate should pick relevant avenues to contribute and help build up reputable sources of information. That way, with time and experience, you will become a go-to expert in your given field or special interest.
Designing for both the novice and power user is complex, and requires a critical eye. Because the Internet is readily available to a diverse audience, any endpoint existing in web form should always consider who is visiting for direction. Analytics will improve accuracy, however the best starting point is KISS with room to expand as needed. Often, we experience an app or website, and get delusional expectations for our own product after comparison. The key is to work toward those ideas without first losing your sanity, or at least the drive motivating you in the first place.
Working with teams of mobile, web, and game developers, the user experience design process is consistent. As technology advances, this will add new needs for confident interaction. Will the screens grow microscopic? Will new senses be heightened? Only time will tell and trends will show. However, the need for UX will keep me busy and able to assist for some time.