A human-centered, evidence-based, approach to the development of enterprise-level web-applications and other software.
I am a true multidisciplinary designer with more than 30 years of experience working across traditional boundaries. I hold an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design (with an emphasis on rules-based, visual design systems) and a graduate degree in Interaction Design. The last 17 years of my practice have been focused on information architecture and the design of enterprise-level web-applications and other software. While I am a competent and accomplished visual designer, my specialty is working below the surface—applying a human-centered approach to sorting out (and ultimately simplifying) complex problems and processes. Directly, or through my clients, I have worked on interesting projects for organizations of all sizes including Adobe Systems, Intuit, AMD, Nothrop Grumman, and others. I also enjoy teaching. I have served as an adjunct professor and I recently led an internal design education effort for UK based IHS Markit.
I practice an evidence-based, human-centered, approach to product development that is derivative of ISO 92410-210.
In a Nutshell
I am a seasoned product development professional with a broad base of practical experience. I specialize in the deep dive—helping my clients untangle complex systems and developing software products to support them. I do this using an evidence-based, human-centered, approach—long familiar to design and now enjoying wide adoption by business under the banner of design thinking.
I am also available to teach companies about design thinking and employing a human-centered approach to product development. I have experience teaching human-factors, design theory, and design methods in both the university classroom and corporate environments and I recently co-authored a two-half-day workshop on design thinking tailored for a non-design, corporate, audience.
The Deep Dive
"Ignorance is the most important component for helping others to solve any problem
in any industry."—Peter Drucker
One of the really neat things about my job, is that I get to learn a variety of business and/or industries from the ground up. There is considerable value in nescience. When you don't know anything, no question is stupid and fewer assumptions are made. I am a professional learner and without exception, I have been able to help my clients see their own products and processes in a new light. This is not due to ignorance, but rather human nature—a commonplace inability to see the forest for the trees. I remember working on a B2B e-commerce project for a large beverage company. A requirement was dealing with complicated, legacy, billing codes. Only when we started asking stupid questions (of people who actually use the system) was it discovered that most of this code was obsolete—no longer consumed by any other process. With this knowledge, we were able to dramatically streamline the checkout experience—and save the client some money.
Presentation and polish are very important but they can't make up for a product that doesn't work very well. There is a quote widely attributed to Einstein: "If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and five minutes solving it."
I can best describe the deep dive with a few case studies:
- A large bio pharmaceutical firm envisioned a single software product that could shepherd a new molecule (drug) from an affiliated university research lab, through clinical trials, and onto the pharmacist's shelf—streamlining the communication between disparate parties and ensuring that a myriad of regulatory hurdles were cleared along the way. They had a vision but not the time (or perspective) to pull it all together. I worked with representatives of all stakeholder classes to model this complex system from one end to the other. From this wholistic, human-centered, vantage point, we were able to simplify the process and envision an end-to-end software system to support it.
- Macromedia had acquired ColdFusion and was positioning it as a step-up product for Dreamweaver users—introducing them to the world of dynamic, web sites. Dreamweaver users were downloading trial versions in droves but these were not being converted into sales. The assumption was made that ColdFusion lacked appropriate getting started materials and we were asked to develop them. Something didn't smell quite right and we agreed to take on the project only if we could spend some time validating the problem statement. They said no and we took the project anyway—conducting the research on our own dime. I was located in a university community at the time and had no difficulty finding real Dreamweaver users to talk to. Whenever we found one who indicated familiarity with ColdFusion, we asked them to provide a simple explanation of what it was and how it fits into web site development. In fairly short order, we were able to demonstrate to the client that they were attempting to solve the wrong problem. It wasn't that prospective customers didn't know how to get started—they didn't understand what the product was. We took on the task of solving the new problem and conversions picked up dramatically. Because we were smart about how we conducted our initial research, we were able to return to these same folks to validate possible solutions.
- A military contractor was partnered with industry on development of a HIPAA compliant messaging and file sharing system that could connect first-responders, transportation agencies, and treating physicians/facilities in real time. The system was also envisioned as way to connect rural physicians with remotely located specialists. The client had a fairly well developed big picture, but they needed help mapping the intricacies of the various interactions and turning that into validated requirements. I enjoyed employing some relatively low tech methods to very quickly generate valuable, actionable, data.
- I served, for a number of years, as the principal UX resource for a firm that helped large technology companies support their developer bases. We were involved in the organization and presentation of documentation as well as the creation of learning content. A memorable project was working for Intuit during introduction of the Intuit Partner Platform (IPP). This cloud-based SaaS offering represented a monumental shift in architecture. How do we support our traditional developers while introducing (and selling) a completely different way of doing things? This was one of those rare times when we matched up to our audience pretty well—IPP was new to all of us. Interestingly, some of the deep dive models, that we built to test our own understanding of the ecosystem, ultimately became central to the organization of content and navigation of the Intuit Developer Network.
- Human-centered, evidence-based, development of:
- Web-applications and other software that supports complex processes
- Web-applications and other software that delivers content-rich communications
- Heuristic review of web-applications and other software
- Design education: mentorship, coaching, and curriculum development
- Design thinking in a broader problem-solving role / design thinking for non-designers
- Design thinking as a platform for innovation
- Giving visual designers the process and tools necessary to better address complex, interactive, problems
- Assisting in the development of rules-based, visual design systems
If you see the value in a human-centered approach to product development and your interest has been piqued, I would love to sit down and talk!
Mark@MarkFeiden.com | Download a current résumé. | Learn more about me at MarkFeiden.com
A Sampling of Work Product