Stealth-Mode Fintech Startup

Head of Design

Operational leader, hiring manager, and most-senior designer.

  • Recruited and managed multi-disciplinary design teams covering UX, Marketing, and Events for two companies simultaneously.
  • Led the design of cryptocurrency and options trading platforms concurrently, including creating a unified Design Language System spanning both products and brand.
  • Drove company branding (naming, core traits, corporate ID, tone of voice). Created an integrated design standard that governs brand, marketing, and digital product design.
  • Facilitated definition and prioritization of product vision and long-term roadmap.
  • Established processes, standards, and practices governing the relationship between Product, Design, and Development.

Case Study

Building a brokerage brand by finding the future

When creating a new company's brand and design language, the challenge is that because the company has no existing customers, products, or reputation, you have nothing to work from except the founders' intentions. For Upfluent, there was an added complication because it was a joint venture between two pre-existing companies, and both parent companies had unique expectations.

Both parent companies intended to use Upfluent as an API-based brokerage, through which customers would place equity trades utilizing the parent company's interface. Customers' primary interaction with us would be receiving trade confirmations, statements, and annual tax documents, all co-branded with the parent company. The exception would be during sign-up and account management, where one parent company expected to integrate us into its existing interfaces, and the other expected to use interfaces we provided. However, because we offered account types each parent company chose not to support, customers could interact with us directly to manage those accounts.

We needed to create a design language that allowed us to integrate seamlessly into another company's application while remaining recognizable to customers that interacted with us directly. We also needed to support a value proposition as a technology provider to some customers while appearing credible as a financial institution to others.


Design Research, Interaction Design, System Architecture, Visual Design

”…we determined who our audience was, what we would do for them, and how we would talk to them…”

The first step in figuring out our brand was setting our intention for the business. I led the founding team through a modified version of the Google Ventures 3-Hour Design Sprint, to which I added a Brand Archetype exercise I created. Through this process, we determined who our audience was, what we would do for them, and how we would talk to them relative to our competitors.

The next step was to name the company and design its identity. We landed on the name Upfluent due to a mix of factors. We considered uniqueness, trademark and URL availability, phonetic ease, and the implied meaning of its linguistic roots. Because we are a brokerage with learning and social aspects, we chose a name built on the shared linguistic root of Affluent, Influence, and Fluent.

The logo design is a monogram based on the letters U and F. This emphasizes the peculiar phonetics of the name and illustrates the idea that we intend to elevate our users understanding of trading. We also employed some visual sleight-of-hand to make the mark more memorable, like breaking the borders between positive and negative space and modeling 2-point perspective to create the impression of dimensional space within the icon.

We based our choice of primary brand color on an exhaustive audit of competitors. It needed to stand out amongst a crowded field of greens and blues while avoiding conflict with our parent companies' color palettes. We also wanted it to feel futuristic and credible.

“…I facilitated a workshop designed to help us synthesize our opinions.”

The only practical way to create a design language is to apply it to something and see how it works. Since at least one of our parent companies would rely on us for their account-opening process, we decided to test our decisions on those screens.

The Design and Product teams chose competitors, went through their account opening processes (AOP), took screenshots, and evaluated each. We then organized the shared steps of each AOP, and I facilitated a workshop designed to help us synthesize our opinions.

While we each had some differences of opinion, the common understanding was clear, and led to the development of core principles for the design of our AOP process:

  • Optimize cognitive load - Easy to think about is easy to do. If making it simpler makes it harder, you're doing it wrong.
  • Ask as little as possible - Goal #1 is opening the account. We can ask nice-to-have stuff later.
  • Be approachable, not cute - We're going for easy and understandable. Cute is less clear.
  • Positive affirmation - An ounce of assurance is worth a pound of prevention.

“We devised a sequence that…made it easy for the user while allowing us to meet business goals…”

One of the key observations from our AOP workshop was that while it is generally easier to reduce the number of tasks per screen, some tasks become harder when you split them apart. We also observed that 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) that used SMS was generally less disruptive than email systems. With that in mind, we began wireframing AOP flows that optimized the cognitive load of the whole process and individual screens. We devised a sequence that collected the information needed in a hierarchy that made it easy for the user while allowing us to meet business goals simultaneously.

We needed an email address to create the shell of an account (which we call a Profile), so we collected that first. Unlike a traditional sign-up flow, we did not ask the user to create a password. We instead asked for a mobile phone number, which we immediately verified using SMS. When the user validates that phone number, we ask them to create a password. Doing things in this order, we collect all the necessary information to follow up on abandoned applications and perform account recovery.

Another way we lowered the overall cognitive load of the process was by using defaults that would be true for more than 80% of users. For example, because >80% of users would be opening Individual Brokerage accounts, we preselected that account type and allowed the user to change it. We also grouped three true/false questions because, for >80% of users, the answer to all three would be false. The vast majority of users can avoid three questions without changing a thing.


“Our version of the future should be optimistic, so we chose rounded corners and a round humanist typeface with a high x-height.”

With the process wireframed, it was time to apply the visual style and start working out the individual components in our design language.

I developed our visual style so that we could insert it into other people's interfaces and adapt while preserving our brand expression. We built our system around a custom typeface, which allowed us to subtly assert our brand in circumstances where we could not display our logo or brand colors. I based our windows on a bead-blasted pane of glass lit from above, so we could adapt to most color schemes and backgrounds.

We also took inspiration from data displays in film and television, which frequently use a projected light interface when depicting futuristic tools. Effects designers use this technique to add visual interest without cluttering their interfaces. We thought it was useful for imposing our design on top of other interfaces.

As a team, we decided that, while we liked the aesthetic of light projected on glass, we would need to avoid the visual cues of UIs from dystopian futurism, like angled lines, triangles, and square fonts. Our version of the future should be optimistic, so we chose rounded corners and a round humanist typeface with a high x-height.


“I created 13 coded components across 13 pages, a grid, a color system, and a CSS variables library…”

The last stage of the design process was to prototype components, interactions, and screens in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Coding our prototype allows us to tweak and fiddle with the specifics of design elements until we get them just right. For example, it allowed me to devise a custom bezier curve for our animated CSS transition throughout the sequence. I then created a CSS variables file that allowed our developers to use my custom transition whenever they needed an easing animation.

Coded prototypes also make it easier to communicate our intent with developers. Design tools are still somewhat different from code in ways that make miscommunication common. It is also more useful than exhaustive design documentation because the developer can inspect the prototype in their browser to find the value they need instead of searching for where we address it in a document. To prototype our AOP flow, I created 13 coded components across 13 pages, a grid, a color system, and a CSS variables library, including encoded SVG icons.

In July 2022, our parent company, Voyager Digital, declared bankruptcy due to an industry-wide collapse of cryptocurrency markets. Because of the legal structure of the joint venture, the bankruptcy court determined that Upfluent and its intellectual property were assets of Voyager Digital. Voyager assumed control of the brand, design language, and all associated design and code as part of its eventual liquidation.

Portfolio Sample

Fixing usability by unifying visual and interaction design

While building my team for Upfluent, Market Rebellion (one of our investors) asked me to assess their Crypto Trading room for usability problems and revise the design based on my recommendations.

I evaluated the application using NNG's 10 Usability Heuristics for Interface Design and a 1-4 severity rating system. My team and I then resolved those recommendations through a design revision.

The primary problem with the product was poor integration. It was obviously assembled from off-the-shelf solutions that could have been integrated better. Beyond varying interaction patterns, fonts, colors, and sizes, back-end integration problems caused inexplicable session logouts, confounding navigational paths, bizarre window behaviors, and lost user settings.


Team Manager, Project Lead, Heuristic Evaluation, Interaction Design, Visual Design, Design Language System


“Wonderful upgrade. Thanks MR team.”– Customer Verbatim

Our recommendations focused on improving the fit and finish of the implementation. I specified a type hierarchy, matching icon set, and layout grid based on the proportions of the typeface. I also created a color system, a unified windowing system, and a simplified set of touch-friendly mobile interaction patterns. My team designed every part of the new interface to take advantage of Responsive Web Design which, in addition to accommodating a dynamic layout, let us use the same patterns in the mobile app.

Market Rebellion released the revised web app on September 25th, 2021, to rave reviews from their community. A few weeks later, they released the new iOS app and their first Android app.

March 2021


Design Director

Hiring manager and Creative Director for a high-performing team of designers supporting P&C.

  • Used human-centered methods to influence vendor selection, strategic direction, and product vision for a billion-dollar system modernization effort involving 2700 features updating 86% of P&C’s system architecture. Supported 450 developers across 9 release trains.
  • Led volunteer-based employee engagement program for Chief Design Office. Directed a team of 40, including volunteer managers. Reported results directly to Chief Design Officer.
  • Facilitated the design of an Augmented Reality Car Buying innovation pilot, resulting in 17% quote generation and coverage in Forbes.

Portfolio Sample

Augmented Reality Flood Damage Simulator

My team created this concept for Augmented Reality Flood Insurance as part of a speculative effort for the Chief Design Office. Each team submitted an "Art of the Possible" design based on the goals of the business unit it supported, which for us was P&C Modernization.

One of Modernization's primary goals was integrating third-party data sources into their quoting and underwriting systems. Since 2017's Hurricane Harvey was Houston's 3rd "500-year" flood in three years, with 80% of victims not covered by flood insurance, my team decided to focus on the flood insurance quoting experience.

This concept illustrates integrating FEMA Flood Map data with topographical data from the US Geological Survey and USAA's quoting system. It would use a smartphone's location services to estimate the height of flood waters and associated damages.


Project Leadership, Creative Direction

Case Study

Keeping humans at the center of a billion-dollar system modernization

To support their digital transformation, USAA needed to migrate the core systems for the Property & Casualty (P&C) business from their 60-year-old IBM system and onto more modern infrastructure. Digital leadership asked my team to support the multibillion-dollar project by applying human-centered design throughout the project lifecycle. We helped determine requirements for the new system, evaluate vendors, craft product strategy, and create the first generation of interfaces based on the new system.

Over two years, we facilitated workshops, wrote and drew storyboards, conceived aspirational interfaces, conducted concept validation studies, created service blueprints, and designed employee and customer-facing products. I also performed staff planning and resource allocation across multiple workstreams as new release trains came online.


Design Research, Interaction Design, System Architecture, Visual Design


“…my team converted the scripts into illustrated storyboards demonstrating the project’s aspirations…”

The first step in planning our transition was to align on some long-term goals. IT and Digital sponsored a two-day workshop to discover, frame, and solve problems caused by our aging technology infrastructure. Teams had members from Product Management, Legal, Compliance, Underwriting, Member Service, and consultants from PWC. Each team worked to create solutions supporting USAA’s military members and their families using personas and common life-stage transitions provided by an internal strategy team. At the end of the two days, each team had written several stories illustrating ways our digital transformation would create value for our members and performed them as skits.

Following the workshop, my team converted the scripts into illustrated storyboards demonstrating the project’s aspirations. We distributed them to new product and technology teams as they joined the project to help them understand our goals and aspirations. Lastly, we included them in RFQ documentation for vendors to supplement the use cases we asked them to support.


“We distributed a System Usability Scale (SUS) questionnaire…and calculated a score for each vendor”

The project's next phase was vendor selection, involving detailed evaluations with representatives from all business functions. Each representative shared their perspective on how candidate systems might impact their roles. Our design team assessed usability and highlighted common barriers to delivering optimal user experiences.

We advocated for including a lightweight user research method in the evaluation. We distributed a System Usability Scale (SUS) questionnaire to each representative after each vendor’s presentation and calculated a score for each vendor. The committee’s recommendation to the board of directors included these scores.

“We studied those new interfaces using SUS and an additional method called the Kano Model.”

For the most part, our internal users would interact with these systems through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) or User Interfaces (UIs) that we built. The only users who interact with the Graphical User Interface (GUI) provided by any of the vendors would be Member Service Representatives (MSRs). Therefore, we took extra care to study their opinions of the interfaces they would use daily.

We performed SUS evaluations of the GUIs provided by each vendor. SUS evaluates perceived usability and is a reasonable leading indicator for task-based usability and overall happiness. We can also analyze it further to predict how easy an interface is to learn.

For solutions without GUIs, we created notional interfaces representing changes we could make to existing MSR tools, given new capabilities. We studied those new interfaces using SUS and an additional method called the Kano Model. The Kano Model is useful for evaluating the effect a feature has on user satisfaction. Importantly, it can help you understand which features will cause dissatisfaction if you don‘t implement them, in addition to those which improve satisfaction by being implemented.


“…I demonstrated that, by strategically staffing early efforts and shared resources, we could reduce program risk by 80% for 43% of the cost of assigning completely staffed teams to each project.“

Once we selected vendors, we needed to plan the roadmap and determine how to staff the work. The product team chose the smallest and least complicated product as a prototype, with my team designing associated interfaces. We would bring additional design teams online to support business teams as they were formed and started gathering requirements. As the program grew, it was obvious that assigning one team per product would not be a sustainable model. We needed to devise a plan allowing dynamic allotment of resources across products. We also needed to change the practice of continuously revising mockups as the program progressed, or it would quickly consume 80% of our capacity.

I worked with my peers in P&C and the Chief Design Office (CDO) Operations team to devise a staffing plan with associated costs. I then assembled scenarios illustrating the program risks of understaffing Design. Most importantly, I demonstrated that, by strategically staffing early efforts and shared resources, we could reduce program risk by 80% for 43% of the cost of assigning completely staffed teams to each project. I also successfully argued that introducing the practice of using a content matrix instead of mockups to manage content revisions would reduce program risk. We then delegated the management of the content matrix to the product owner and used it to track revisions from Marketing and Legal.

“…Product Management, System Architects, and even Compliance used the service blueprints to understand the context in which any part of the system was operating.”

Replacing a system that had been operating as long as USAA’s P&C Core involves many subsystems that interact. Some of them are technology systems, but some of them are systems made of people. Some of those human systems, like MSRs, are obvious. Others, like Underwriting, Legal, or Compliance, are almost unobservable.

To help manage this lack of visibility, my team made service blueprints for each part of the system we were designing. Eventually, these documents became an indispensable map of the systems we needed to create, replace, and supplement. In addition to Design, Product Management, System Architects, and even Compliance used the service blueprints to understand the context in which any part of the system was operating.

The service blueprints allowed everyone to see where we could improve the existing hybrid human/technology system to enhance experiences and remove systemic risk. They also became critical artifacts for System Architects to plan performance benchmarks and for Product Managers defining Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

“…we developed a mobile application where applicants could have auto or home insurance and add other exposures like watercraft, motorcycles, or other drivers”

As it turns out, Umbrella Insurance, the smallest and “least complicated” of P&C’s product portfolio, was exceedingly difficult from both technology and underwriting standpoints. It was so convoluted that there was no way to sign up for the product online. The complexity stemmed from underwriting requirements that the member has a “primary” liability policy, to which they add Umbrella. They also could not have exposures (vehicles, watercraft, or drivers) that were not listed on their other insurance policies because the system could not store exposures that were not the subject of a policy. Because USAA did not offer insurance for all exposure types (boat, motorcycle), storing those types of exposures was impossible.

We started with a mobile-first responsive design and a simple use case that could get through underwriting; an existing member who already had auto and home insurance and no additional exposures. We then worked with Legal, Underwriting, and Technology to create requirements that enabled more complex use cases and designed an interface that reflected those requirements. Ultimately, we developed a mobile application where applicants could have auto or home insurance and add other exposures like watercraft, motorcycles, or other drivers


“Our work touched 86% of architectural features across USAA’s P&C Policy system.”

Because we had used the mobile form factor to refine our design and requirements, adapting it to the desktop was fairly straightforward. The mobile and desktop screens needed to maintain parity because USAA’s MSRs frequently work with members to complete forms and refer to the member versions of the screens. One complicating factor was that MSRs use a tool that frames the member screen with internal tools and consumes part of the window. As a result, the desktop design needs to adapt particularly well to sizes in-between media queries.

The Policy Modernization project is a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar effort that continues today. My team supported the work of 450 teammates across nine discreet release trains, implementing 2,700 features at launch. Our work touched 86% of architectural features across USAA’s P&C Policy system.

Portfolio Sample

Augmented reality car buying

When my team got involved, this innovation pilot had been underway for several months, and the development and product management teams had reached an impasse. After a contentious kickoff meeting, it was clear that onboarding new participants was an opportunity to realign business goals and human-centered objectives.

I facilitated a week-long collaboration workshop using methods from Google Venture's Design Sprint and Luma Institute Innovating for People. At the end of one week, we had aligned on a value proposition, features, and design direction. After one more week, we had a working prototype, which we sent to San Antonio for usability testing.

Testing went well, although users struggled to perform one task. Thankfully, we included a follow-up question using the Kano Model to evaluate user expectations, so it was clear how to proceed.

When USAA released the app to pilot participants, 17% of participants generated quotes using the app, and it received press recognition nationwide, including coverage in Forbes.


Design Leadership, Facilitation, Creative Direction


Speaking Engagement

World IA Day 2019

Speaking Engagement

Future Finance Conference 2019

Speaking Engagement

Future Finance Conference 2018

Speaking Engagement

Big Design 2018

July 2018

AIGA Dallas/Fort Worth


March 2017


Customer Experience Strategist

Portfolio-level design strategist, working with Product Managers to create vision and roadmaps.

  • Integrated Human-Centered Design into the product development life cycle. Planned and facilitated workshops with every legacy domestic air carrier.
  • Directed a 12-person team of designers and researchers to create a next-generation travel agent point of sale; creating $32 million in incremental profits for our pilot customer in the first year.
  • Oversaw the development of pioneering flights merchandising capabilities that continue to drive industry innovation to this day.
  • Spoke on behalf of Sabre at multiple international conferences: Big Design, Global Business Travel Association, and Online Travel Executives Forum.
  • Traveled internationally conducting on-site user research and Design Thinking workshops.

Case Study

Envisioning a future where everyone wins

The BLKBRD Point of Sale was a self-initiated project based on research and strategy work I performed for several initiatives across Sabre Travel Network's portfolio. The goal was to synthesize insights from workshops and on-site research with airlines, hoteliers, travel agencies, and startups into a vision of the future beyond the scope of any one project.


Design Research, Interaction Design, System Architecture, Visual Design

“Sabre had been mistaking the specificity of their commands for expert-level skill when they were using 3rd party tools to supplement their workflow.”

While performing contextual inquiry at a travel agency in Surrey, BC, I noticed a behavior that undermined our assumptions about the expertise of agents who used Sabre's point-of-sale every day. By interviewing the agents in the office, I learned that many struggled with the GDS workflows because of differences in their structure across segment types (air, hotel, car, etc.). Instead, they used online resources to find what they wanted and only used Sabre's POS to make the final booking. Sabre had been mistaking the specificity of their commands for expert-level skill when they were using 3rd party tools to supplement their workflow.

I was also surprised to learn that, while Sabre assumed that agents were immune to in-app merchandising due to low engagement with existing marketing features, they frequently visited supplier websites specifically to find that information. They then used complex commands that invoked the exact content they wanted to book, missing the entry points for merchandising content entirely.

During our supplier workshops, I learned a great deal about how badly they wanted to improve merchandising within our POS, so the revelation that agents actively sought out that information and couldn't find it signaled a significant opportunity.


“I learned that many struggled with the GDS workflows because of differences in their structure across segment types…”

My solution was to create a point of sale with a unified workflow, regardless of whether you used text commands or a GUI and regardless of segment type. The response format creates opportunities for merchandising within the workflow, and the unified booking process allows agents to maintain one mental model for all segment types.

At first look, this seems like extra steps, but based on observing travel agents in both corporate and retail settings, it's streamlined. They don't have to leave the POS or even divert from the booking path to find vital fares and amenities information. It also uses three smaller and faster APIs to retrieve content instead of the monolithic Shopping API. The Shopping API can take a long time to respond because it has to price every available combination of itineraries to find the best ones and makes downstream calls to supporting services, including the ones we use here.

This process allows the supplier to personalize based on the amenities available on that terminal, flight, and equipment.

The new booking process also includes elements suppliers can configure, controlling the background color of their result pages, managing their logos, and placing personalized ads based on search parameters.

In this example, the agent searches for round-trip flights from New York City to LAX. Initially, they received results from multiple carriers, with ads from Virgin and Delta promoting renovations to their terminals at JFK and LGA. When the agent chooses a flight, they get a flight-specific fares page, where they select the class of service their customer desires. This process allows the supplier to personalize based on the amenities available on that terminal, flight, and equipment.

While I never intended BLKBRD for production, it successfully influenced product strategy for crucial strategic initiatives in Sabre's long-term roadmap. Most notably, it helped break a critical log jam related to New Distribution Capability (NDC), for which Sabre has since received Level-4 Aggregator certification. Additionally, Routehappy, a startup with whom I consulted and co-developed requirements for amenities information, was acquired by ATPCO in 2018.

Case Study

Transforming retail travel through design

Flight Centre, the world's largest retail travel agency, faced critical challenges finding a new Global Distribution System (GDS) provider. Their existing GDS Point of Sale (POS) was outdated, causing staff turnover and training costs while losing sales to more user-friendly channels.

Sabre's response showcased the power of Storytelling, User Experience (UX), and Human-Centered Design (HCD). Despite an initial setback, Sabre's HCD solution secured a $1.4 billion ten-year deal. In a year, Flight Centre reported a remarkable 23.3% profit growth, totaling $32 million, and an 8.7% increase in Total Transaction Value. This success stemmed from customer-centric design, a compelling UX narrative, and iterative design.


Project Leadership, Design Strategy, User Research, Interaction Design, Prototyping, Program Management


“We used those consultants as proxy users to discover their needs and desired outcomes.”

Initially, Flight Centre was not convinced that we adequately understood their business problems or that our GDS Point of Sale would help with training and retention. However, our executive team was able to delay a decision for 12 weeks while we developed our vision.

We had one quarter to develop a vision for a modern Point of Sale (POS) that solved their business problems and to create a compelling presentation demonstrating our solution. If we were successful, we would have one year to launch a beta with their Canadian operations as our pilot customer. If the pilot were successful, we would get their US and Australian operations as customers.

Although we would have to develop our vision secretly, making it challenging to study end users, we had a consulting team who had spent a year analyzing their business. We used those consultants as proxy users to discover their needs and desired outcomes. Then, I facilitated Design Thinking workshops, synthesized the results, and led a small team of designers through the creation of features to solve their biggest problems.


“ I created focused narratives… wireframes and mockups that covered those specific scenarios.”

Since half of the challenge was telling a compelling story, and 12 weeks was not enough time to completely redesign our flagship product, I created focused narratives with realistic use cases to demonstrate our proposed capabilities. Then, we created wireframes and mockups that covered those specific scenarios. Finally, I brought in an animator to help us convert those mockups into animated prototypes illustrating the agent workflow.

Launch Video

“I facilitated a joint team of Flight Centre and Sabre leadership through a series of Design Thinking exercises…”

After 12 weeks, the leadership of Flight Centre's US, Canadian, and Australian operations gathered at Sabre's headquarters for our presentation. The presentation was a rousing success, and they agreed to convert their Canadian and US operations to our new system for the pilot. To their surprise, we had also developed a working prototype of the primary interface. As a result, we could use it to demonstrate our usability improvements and even let their senior leadership use it.

For the rest of the meeting, I facilitated a joint team of Flight Centre and Sabre leadership through a series of Design Thinking exercises designed to help us understand the specific business problems of Canadian and American operations. They also refined our understanding of their Australian business. As a result, we cut features that overlapped with solutions they already had in place or wouldn't fit with their business.


“…agents sometimes book flights with no margin or commission to save the customer a dollar.”

Once the Post-It Notes™ were all sorted, we went back to designing features that addressed their business needs. For example, we learned that all their businesses had trouble competing with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs). As a result, agents sometimes book flights with no margin or commission to save the customer a dollar. We also learned that Flight Centre would pre-buy flights at a discount and resell them for a profit. However, they often went unsold because there was no way for agents to know which seats were private inventory in their POS.

To combat this, we created color-coded visual indicators that showed the agent which fares benefited the agent, the agency, and the traveler. They are the entry point to a tool that quickly manipulates any item's margin. Using it, agents can lower the margin to beat an OTA price or raise the price to create margin on a flight where they would otherwise not earn a commission.

While developing features to address their problems, we established a regular presentation cadence, meeting to demonstrate new functionality and gather feedback on the utility and usability of our creations. I traveled alongside a Usability Analyst and Product Manager to Flight Centre's officers in New York, Toronto, and Vancouver, conducting workshops, usability tests, and contextual inquiry. We funneled our findings to the Design and Engineering teams to iterate on our solutions.


“I seized the opportunity to travel to Brisbane and observe their retail operations directly…”

Nine months later, when the pilot program launched in Canada and the US, it was a staggering success. The training required to learn the new system and become productive and profitable was months shorter than anticipated. The new features were intuitive and efficient. Agents were selling the right things to the right customers. Private inventory was selling out. Features we implemented to ease the transition fell by the wayside as they adopted new workflows within days.

The resounding success of the North American pilot led to our ultimate goal, Australia. Up to this point, the design team had only learned about the Australian business needs through proxies. I seized the opportunity to travel to Brisbane and observe their retail operations directly while our sales and product counterparts attended meetings.

The critical difference between North American and Australian operations is the ubiquity of retail travel agencies in Australia. While their North American counterparts primarily serve business travelers, mainly over the phone, the Australian travel agent still meets face-to-face with their customers and frequently in a retail setting. In Australia, travel agencies were peppered in amongst shops and restaurants almost everywhere people shopped. Flight Center had a flagship store that resembled an Apple store in a local mall, where customers would sit across a desk from an agent and share their screen with them as they picked out their next vacation.


“…the best validation of the design came from Flight Centre’s business results.”

Upon returning to the US, we learned we'd succeeded in reaching commercial terms with Flight Centre Australia, inking a $1.4B/ten-year deal—this more than met our $100mm/year incremental revenue goal for the next ten years.

While securing the deal was a tremendous success, the best validation of the design came from Flight Centre's business results. Sabre's internal training team converted all their agents to the new POS six months ahead of schedule. In the six months following the rollout, Flight Centre reported an 8.7% increase in Total Transaction Value. In the first year, they reported a 23.3% profit growth, totaling $32MM.

Speaking Engagement

AIGA Wichita

Speaking Engagement

Big Design 2016

Speaking Engagement

Online Travel Executives Forum

Speaking Engagement

Phocuswrite Conference

July 2016

AIGA Dallas/Fort Worth


June 2015


Principal User Experience Designer

Subject matter expert on interaction design and information architecture.

  • Guided the maturity of UX practice by authoring standards for visual design, information architecture, interaction design, and front-end development.
  • Managed the professional development of junior team members.
  • Led research, design, and front-end development for the industryleading developer-experience portal, Sabre Dev Studio.

Case Study

Starting a human-centered fire through developer experience

Sabre Dev Studio was a developer portal intended to allow startups to learn about and try Sabre's portfolio of ReST APIs. It was also their first attempt at marketing services outside the travel industry. Following an eleventh-hour setback, I rallied stakeholders around a bold new vision of developer experience. With renewed clarity of purpose, I drove us to beta in twelve weeks and production in nine months while maintaining 96% task success in usability. Most importantly, we started a design-led, human-centered cultural revolution.


Design Team Lead, Research, Strategy, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Visual Design, Front-End Development (HTML, CSS, jQuery, Javascript), Writer


“We interviewed startup founders, developers, and business development managers, to understand what they needed …”

After five years of work developing the site with a third party, the newly appointed CEO unexpectedly canceled the launch during its final review. He instructed the product team to work with design to redesign the homepage into one befitting a modern technology company.

When the product team approached UX to request resources and relayed the story, it was clear that the visual design of their homepage was not the most critical problem to solve. We reviewed their launch candidate and immediately found issues with information architecture, content design, usability, and product-market fit. We reviewed our findings with the product team and struck a deal. Instead of designing a new homepage in a couple of weeks and working with the 3rd party developers to build it, we would spend the next four weeks doing research and forming a compelling vision for the product and four weeks designing and building a functioning prototype of each page template needed for the site.

We performed user research, analyzed competitors, and formed a strategy for the user experience. We turned our user research process on our internal experts, learning what they hoped to achieve from the project and mapping dependencies between stakeholders. We interviewed startup founders, developers, and business development managers, to understand what they needed from API portals.


“We presented our work to the CEO at the end of the eight weeks…and received approval to proceed with our strategy.”

This research led us to a strategy of moving as much documentation into the public internet as possible, requiring a simplified registration to generate API Keys and make sample calls against a sandbox and requiring a signed contract to access the most sensitive content. It also prompted us to recommend the creation of Software Development Kits (SDKs) written in several common programming languages (Java, Objective-C, Javascript, Python, and Ruby on Rails) so that developers could quickly get started in the language of their choice. Our final recommendation was to move our official developer support community out of a password-protected forum onto Stack Overflow.

We presented our work to the CEO at the end of the eight weeks. We reviewed our research, recommendations, and prototypes; and received approval to proceed with our strategy.


“We needed to expand the site's information architecture to allow for the breadth of new content.“

In the following four weeks, we drove to a beta release with a limited portfolio of six new ReST APIs. I figured out how to retrofit the vendor's incompatible Content Management System (CMS) with our front-end framework and built out the content on the site. We put the site through usability testing and then worked with the vendor to implement API gateway and sandbox improvements.

The beta period was six months, and at the end, we intended to roll out the rest of the site with over 200 APIs spanning Sabre Travel Network's (TN) entire web services portfolio. We needed to expand the site's information architecture to allow for the breadth of new content. We also had to create features that facilitated discovery and understanding of the correct API for your job.

“I led a team of designers through exercises to design apps that showcased each API.“

One of the things that resonated with stakeholders was a UI demo I'd created to showcase the new Destinations API. It excited internal users because it was slick-looking and drove home that these APIs differed from the hard-to-use SOAP services they used for agency operations. Before we knew it, the video prototype was making the rounds in executive presentations to show customers what they could build with the new services. Surprisingly, it also resonated with developers. Including the demo in the documentation for the service helped developers understand what it did before they read the documentation.

We decided it would be beneficial to create demo videos for each new service. I led a team of designers through exercises to design apps that showcased each API. Then we convinced internal developers to build them in several programming languages to release as SDKs. I designed and coded an SDK demo gallery so that users could easily find the one they needed and learn about the capabilities of our APIs. I created an on-site search that helped developers who didn't know the industry jargon find APIs and combine them in the correct sequence for production. When we put the revised site through usability testing, participants had a 96% task success rate.

“We eventually won people over with our thoughtful approach and high-quality outcomes.“

Most importantly, alongside my product marketing manager, I worked with stakeholders from TN and Sabre's other business units, preparing them to add their APIs and documentation to Dev Studio. Access to developer documentation at Sabre was typically contingent on a services contract and required account managers for both Sabre and the customer to distribute the correct documentation to developers. Many product managers resisted including their documentation on the site because distributing the Java Archive (JAR) files to customers and helping them find specific documentation was a significant part of their day-to-day work. We eventually won people over with our thoughtful approach and high-quality outcomes. We ushered in a cultural change toward openness and collaboration.

Sabre Dev Studio launched in May of 2014, about nine months after that initial meeting with the product team. The product launch was lauded as the most successful in recent history, yielding strong press coverage and millions in new developer contracts. We also won a bronze Telly Award for cinematography for the home page video.

In the nine years since it launched, it has grown from 200 APIs to over 500 and is now the hub for all developer experience at Sabre.



Bronze: Online Video (The Telly Awards)

July 2014

AIGA Dallas/Fort Worth

Website Director

July 2014


Senior User Experience Designer

Designed workflows and interfaces for expert users of Sabre’s Travel Agency POS. Created information architecture schematics, wireframes, and mockups for websites, mobile apps, and desktop software.

Case Study

“This is the only time I've ever had to stop my presentation for applause.”

There were two significant challenges to putting Sabre Red Workspace, the Point of Sale (POS) for their Global Distribution System (GDS), on an iPad. First, the text-based workflow, to which agents were inextricably committed, required a keyboard and special characters. In 2013 the default on-screen keyboard for iOS took up approximately 40% of the screen and did not support customization or special characters. Secondly, platform limitations would prevent us from porting the helper functions agents use on the desktop when they need to find infrequently used commands. We would need to design intuitive tools to help agents overcome these limitations that considered both the terminal workflow and the touch interface of the iPad.


Interaction Design, Information Architecture, Wireframes, Mockups, Visual Design, Usability Engineering, Project Management

“This document quickly became the centerpiece of all roadmap discussions…”

When I joined the project, it was leaving a conceptual phase and entering a practical one. Developers were starting to build features and running into the platform's limits. We were revising idealized features based on practical constraints. Additionally, as we worked out the detailed designs, we needed to track the state of each one as they moved from concept to wireframe to mockup. To support this, I created a document called a "wireflow," which was essentially a flow diagram of the app's features where I replaced the nodes with the highest fidelity design available for that feature. They would start as symbols denoting the type of display item they were (page, pop-over, dialog) and what interaction invoked them (tap, drag, swipe). When a wireframe for that feature became available, it would replace the symbolic node. A mockup would replace the wireframe, and eventually, a screenshot would replace the mockup. This document quickly became the centerpiece of all roadmap discussions, giving stakeholders a visual way to track scope and progress.


“…it quickly earned 100% 5-star App Store reviews, which it maintained for five years.”

After 13 weeks of development, we put the app through moderated usability testing and made some surprising findings. First, we discovered an explicit usability issue. Users who failed to log in could not recover and would end up locked out of the app. This error was due to two unconventional design choices that made it harder for users to understand what to do when their login failed and how to replace the incorrect values. The resolution was straightforward. Replace the login sequence with a more traditional login and validation sequence.

The second finding was surprising. Users did not care about, or find useful or interesting, any of the platform-specific features. Initially, we planned to take advantage of capabilities like location services, gesture-based interactions, and video conferencing; but the users we studied reacted acrimoniously to the possibility. They did, however, love the custom on-screen helper tools we’d created to help with more obscure commands.

Veteran agents were especially enthusiastic about the custom keyboard, which included special characters that had once appeared on custom keyboards Sabre hadn’t manufactured in decades.

Following testing, we reprioritized the development of features to focus on expanding the helper functions to support more commands like Seat Maps, Low Fare Shopping, Hotel reservations, and Car rentals.

Sabre Red Mobile Workspace debuted in March 2013 at TTX, Sabre’s annual technology conference. The reaction was so enthusiastic that the executive presenting remarked, “That is the only time I’ve ever had to stop my presentation for applause.” When version 1.0 was released later that summer, it quickly earned 100% 5-star App Store reviews, which it maintained for five years.

It also generated $400,000 of non-booking revenue through subscription fees. It was the first time Sabre had successfully charged for a software product rather than relying solely on booking revenue.

Jan 2013

xCube LABS

Senior Interaction Designer

Designed mobile applications and games for clients including Trademonster, Sharp, Mastercard, Rovio, CBS, and Dreamworks. Led client-facing collaboration. Mentored junior design staff.

April 2012


Principal & Creative Director

Owner and Principal Designer of multidisciplinary design studio specializing in brand and UX projects for small businesses and non-profit organizations.


Print Regional Design Annual (F+W Media)


LogoLounge Volume 7 (Rockport Publishers)


American Package Design Awards (GD USA)


LogoLounge Master Library Volume 4 (Rockport Publishers)


The 1,000 Best Logo Designs. Ever. (Bright Books)


American Graphic Design Awards (GD USA)


American Web Design Awards (GD USA)


Visual Marketing: Proven Ways for Small Businesses to Market with Images and Design (Wiley)


Logoliscious (Harper Design)


American Graphic Design Awards (GD USA)


American Web Design Awards (GD USA)


Design for the Greater Good (Harper Design)


LogoLounge Master Library Volume 1 (Rockport Publishers)


The New Big Book of Layouts (Harper Design)


Trademarks USA (Ampixx)


Trademarks USA 2 (Ampixx)


American Graphic Design Awards (GD USA)


American Web Design Awards (GD USA)


LogoLounge Volume 5 (Rockport Publishers)