I’m a New York-based information architect with an art degree and a security clearance. I’ve been a web designer of some sort for the past 14 years: the past 7 as a user experience director or lead, the first 3 as the managing director of my own agency.
I was born in Manila, have lived in the suburbs of Los Angeles and the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and now call the Upper West Side of Manhattan home.
I am neither a guru nor a ninja. I will not get your page to the top of Google’s search results. I am not an “innovator” or an “idea guy.”
Instead, I learn new industries and empower businesses to have great relationships their customers online by developing usable strategies for content writing, information architecture, and interaction design.
I care deeply about how people interact with technology, space, and each other. If you care about these things too, I think we’ll work well together.
For over 14 years, I have made websites better in industries including media, fashion, housewares, education, health care, financial services, and government. Notable projects include:
For the redesign of IFC Films’ website, I delivered a high-impact interaction design based on analytics and stakeholder collaboration under an accelerated discovery and design timeline.
I learned how film trailers were the studio’s most effective form of marketing and structured the IA to increase access to film trailers throughout the site. Based on card sorting exercises with stakeholders, I designed their new film template – the site’s most trafficked page – to prioritize a long wish list of new features. I introduced Collections content as a strategy to maximize social media value and provide new avenues into their film library.
The new website was nominated for a Webby in April 2016.
Think of a few top business schools: maybe Wharton, Harvard, and Stanford came to mind. How about the University of Michigan?
With top-10 graduate and undergraduate programs and a new LEED-certified building funded by a generous donation from real estate developer and alumnus Stephen M. Ross, the university was confident that its programs and facilities are among the world’s best. Its website needed to pull its weight as the school’s first impression on prospective students.
I led the discovery and strategy effort for the school’s new responsive website while overseeing the work of a content strategist and junior UX designer. I interviewed over 30 stakeholders and 15 users to understand business goals and user needs. I conducted a content audit to understand users’ journeys and existing challenges.
It’s one thing to “advocate for the user” and another to resolve content challenges that arise when the same content has to serve multiple audiences with distinct needs in a massive website. By developing a deep understanding of the site’s content and divergent business goals, I was able to advocate for many audiences at once.
My resulting annotated wireframes described a new modular design system that allowed the school’s stakeholders to continue to develop content that met their users’ specific needs while also serving the school’s overall brand and strategy.
For the Royce Funds, a pioneering firm of financial advisors, I enabled the firm to tell their story through their decades of history and their portfolio managers’ results and insights on the market. I simplified the site’s navigation and redesigned the site around people, products, and thinking that differentiated the firm from their peers. I designed a new template for mutual funds to serve customers’ needs while achieving business goals and complying with FINRA requirements.
As Cablevision rebranded their Optimum service, I led the user experience strategy for the redesign of Optimum.net, their designated retention and account management site. In addition to updating a confusing and outdated website, we were charged with improving customer retention and driving subscriptions across Optimum’s “Triple Play” offering of TV, internet, and phone services.
My information architecture proposal aligned the site’s navigation with how users think about their services and the new Optimum branding. It also gave users more personalized experiences throughout the site based on their subscriptions and preferences and gave Cablevision opportunities to provide deep lateral linking for related and personalized content that supported the business goals to up-sell and cross-sell.
Jefferson National needed to convince financial advisors to use their innovative Monument Advisor product for their high-net-worth clients. I interviewed their stakeholders and users and attended focus groups to understand the product and the challenges the company faced in marketing it. I developed a strategy that organized their new site around the story of Monument Advisor and identified best practices in information architecture and interaction design from outside the financial industry to convey the paradigm shift it represented.
I developed the new information architecture and navigation around the purposes for which a foreign national might want to enter the United States. For the site’s interaction design, I devised a system of icons for visa codes (e.g. H-1B) to assist the site’s frequent users, restructured information on immigration around a process-based infographic, and developed interactive features including a country/nationality selector and a visa wizard.
Also: You’ll find a picture of me somewhere in the Passports section.
As a designer and front-end developer for the U.S. House of Representatives from 2005–2009, I designed over 20 websites for committees, representatives, and caucuses. I was the lead designer for House.gov in 2006–07.
In my spare time, I applied the principles of site search analytics to the performance of the House’s search engine. My infamous memo outlining early findings directly contributed to funding and implementation of a Google Enterprise Search across all House websites. The process was featured in DIY UX, and .net magazine.
Also: If you Googled “Congress” in the United States between 2009–2011, the first two results were designed by me.
For my M.A. in Communication, Culture & Technology, I examined how the form of the web browser – the conventions of its user interface and other de rigeur features – came to shape not just websites but the social acceptance and cultural understanding of the web itself.
For my undergraduate thesis, I authored and designed this book (bound by Charlene Matthews), for which I was a finalist in PenUSA’s Rosenthal Fellowship Emerging Voices program in 2004 and published in the Institute for Cultural Inquiry’s anthology Searching for Sebald in November 2007.
In 2002, I established the Spazowham Design Group, the first web design agency that designed and built only standards-compliant and Section 508 compliant websites. Among our clients was the University of California, Irvine and our own website was featured as a best practice of accessible design in the seminal Designing With Web Standards.
Although we ceased working as a team in 2005, the experience was invaluable to my career as a creative professional. Because of my background managing my own team and clients, hand-coding HTML and CSS, and optimizing images, when I develop a user experience strategy, I do so with an understanding of how a website is built by designers and developers and maintained by clients over time.
Everything I learned about web standards, accessibility, good design and typography – I learned from Matthew. He is a truly visionary designer who makes intelligent and intellectual decisions resulting in beautiful, functional design.