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Professional Experience

Founder & Principal Consultant  • firstthought • Los Angeles, CA • 1999-Present • UX Consultancy

Cultivate relationships with executives and decision makers to lead engagements. Devise and execute usability tests, heuristic evaluations, ethnographies and on-site assessments. Formulate detailed strategies and business transformations to deliver winning interactive user experiences  balancing technology, user, and business needs. Engagements also required writing, content management, copy editing and proofreading.

Selected Projects:

Mary-Margaret Network: Interim Senior Director of Web Business Strategy for Recruiting Company. Worked with CEO and staff to extend business using redeveloped Web Site. Hired, led and worked with design and development professionals and executive leadership to define and execute new offerings and extend brand. Healthcare Start-up [stealth]: Collaborated with management, coders and visual designer to create functional prototype for fundraising. Led project using Agile methodology. Secured 2nd-round angel funding.

Epson: Led 7-person team of visual designers, coders, testers, and support staff to redesign and relaunch Epson e-commerce site with real-time credit authorization capabilities.

Yahoo: Interim Strategist with team in content creation division of Digital Media effort. Developed co-branding ideas for projects for adventure travel site.

Handshake: Interim Interactive Business Director. Crafted and implemented business model and website overhaul within 6-weeks, repositioned offering for new markets. Led definition, development and implementation. Secured $5M in 2nd-round funding.

Keen: Orchestrated in-depth user testing and analysis to devise new business strategy as well as product and market refocus that positioned Keen for lucrative acquisition.

MarketFusion: Executed user testing and heuristic assessments to create classification system, product specification, and interface design in alignment with new online business strategy for procurement  service.

Event Zero: Built User Experience practice for Web marketing and design firm. Encompassed strategy development, methodology documentation, talent acquisition and training in user-centered design.

Nielsen Norman group: Consulted through top-rated usability group, performed heuristic evaluations, usability tests, and other research. Reported results, defined needs, and tracked progress of strategies.

UX Director & Senior Design Strategy Consultant • c2o, Dallas, TX • 1997-1999 • eCommerce consulting

Hired as senior consultant, promoted to launch West Coast operations. Assembled, trained, and led consulting teams of up to 60 in engagements with high-profile clientele. Analyzed corporate strategies as well as sales and marketing tactics to resolve business issues and improve performance. Also wrote, proofread and copy edited.

Selected Projects:

Hitachi Data Systems: Directed 2 high-impact engagements with Hitachi:

  • Transformed Hitachi site architecture, navigation, and layout with robust standards for content in 3-week period, which secured multi-million-dollar RoW Sales Extranet contract.
  • Interfaced with global executives, sales and manufacturing personnel to diagnose issues causing low RoW sales. Devised, documented, and presented solution strategy that earned enterprise service contract.

Sun Microsystems: Selected as Chief HCI Strategist for initiative to design improved online sales strategy of Sun computer and support products, including product definition and packaging.

Interactive Media Engineer • SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. • Mountain View, CA • 1995-1997 Computers

Served on team to redesign corporate support product and application. Conducted user research to establish value proposition and target market. Implemented enhancements to usability, interfaces, and  architecture.

Principal Consultant

Consultant in eCommerce and User Experience Strategy specializing in the Web


Highly accomplished business strategy consultant specializing in eCommerce issues concentrating on user experience design and delivery with proven history devising and implementing cutting-edge Web solutions and comprehensive business strategies for global clientele. Results-oriented leader with expertise in usability testing, heuristic evaluations, and end-user practice analysis. Critical change agent with aptitude for identifying and remedying fundamental issues in strategy, branding and interaction that hinder user satisfaction and customer acquisition


marketing research methods • user experience research • strategic planning • global engagements • product management • standards development • user research • interactive media development • team leadership • website architecture & functionality • project management • mentoring • executive presentations • marketing strategy • resource usage • HTML • SDLC • scrum and agile processes, AJAX, UNIX (multiple formats), MacOSX, Windows (various flavors)



University of the State of New York

Provided accreditation of coursework, all completed and assessed elsewhere:

  • Wellesley College
  • Vassar College
  • Harvard University

Program name was later changed to "Excelsior College"

Sep 1993Jun 1995


MS  Information Design & Technology –  Interactive Media and Human Factors

Coursework in Human Factors, Project Management, Electronic rhetoric, Electronic commerce

Aug 1991Jun 1992

University of Florida - College of Journalism and Communications


UX Guideline Development
Interaction Path Optimization
Task Analysis
Heuristic Evaluation
eCommerce Project Management
Usability Testing
Interaction Design


Laura Russell