Portfolio | Megan Ellinger

Three Accomplishments that Matter to Me

My work has been recognized by my peers on many occasions, which you can in the Honors and Awards section on my LinkedIn profile.  These awards mean a lot, but here are three accomplishments I’m proud of that are not directly tied to my current position:

  1. Being on the winning team at Cooper’s UX Bootcamp: Women’s Earth Alliance.
  2. Speaking at the 2011 IA Summit.
  3. Being quoted in the Pew Research Center’s report, Millennials will benefit and suffer due to their hyperconnected lives (Feb 29, 2012 by Janna Anderson, Lee Rainie).

My Thinking Process – Sketch First

In the beginning of a project I avoid digital artifacts preferring to sketch as many ideas as possible on paper.

The example below shows an annotated sketch on graph paper, but I typically start sketching on sticky notes or even scrap paper.

Through critique and usability testing findings I transition from sketches to digital artifacts.

Side by side picture of a sketch and a digitial wireframe.

I generate as many ideas as possible on paper before moving to digital artifacts.

Wireframes & Flows

The Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting regularly draws over 3,000 people to Washington, DC.  The conference program covers all transportation modes, with more than 4,000 presentations and nearly 750 sessions and workshops addressing topics of interest to all attendees—policy makers, administrators, practitioners, researchers, and representatives of government, industry, and academic institutions.

I was asked to review and propose improvements for their online conference program, iterate the designs via critiques with stakeholders, and then work with the development team to implement the final recommendations.  These screenshots show the evolution of the project.

Interactive Program - Original

The original online conference program served as both a login page and a search page.

High Fidelity - Version 1 - Homepage

First round of a wireframe for the proposed homepage of the conference program. Created with Axure.

High Fidelity - Version 1 - Faceted Search

The first iteration of a faceted search experience designed to facilitate browsing and known item searching.

Clickable Wireframe

The second iteration streamlined the homepage further. I added more annotations to the prototype so the development team could get a better feel for the interaction design.

High Fidelity - Version 2 - Faceted Search

This clickable wireframe, also created with Axure, allowed onsite and remote stakeholders to experience the proposed functionality.

Working under a tight deadline, I worked with the development team to transition from annotated wireframes to concrete design.  Built on a .NET platform using Telerik UI controls, the Transportation Research Board’s 2015 Interactive Program shows the development team’s final implementation.

I Design with Non-Designers

“Why is color so hard?  Because it’s emotional.” – Dan Rubin, Visual Design Essentials for Non-Designers

I think Andy Budd once said, “Organizations are a design problem unto themselves.”  It’s true.  For the last 16 years I have worked as a Web and User Experience Analyst at the National Academies, a large nonprofit organization that advises the federal government on all aspects of science, engineering, and medicine.  The organization is highly decentralized and built on a culture of consensus.  I use a variety of facilitation techniques to help groups reach consensus throughout the design process.  These are three of my favorite techniques and how I have used them over the years:

Communicating Design Vision

I develop A Guide to Communicating Your Design Vision [PPT file, 12 MB] to help groups think about what they want their site to feel like prior to having a formal design conversation.  Read more about how I developed the guide in my blog post Help Clients Find The Web Design of Their Dreams.

The FIDO Method

FIDO stands for Freehand Interactive Design Offline and Donna Tedesco, Ann Chadwick-Dias and Tom Tullis are responsible for developing this participatory design method.  Their paper,  “Freehand Interactive Design Offline (FIDO): A New Method for Participatory Design” was submitted to UPA (now known as User Experience Professionals Association) in 2004.

I found that FIDO works really well if you are working with component libraries and modular web design frameworks.  This hands on technique helps non-designers see how they can interchange features and functionality before a single line of code is programmed.

This is one story about how I used the FIDO method to help a colleague propose new features for a homepage.

A co-created annotated sketch of a homepage that was used to sell senior management on investing in a low-cost redesign.

A co-created annotated sketch of a homepage was used to sell senior management on investing in  new homepage functionality.

Experience Workshop

One of the most powerful techniques I learned at Cooper University was the Experience Workshop [Video 1:16].

Conference room with pictures posted on the wall for experience workshop.

A conference room prepped for an experience workshop I led a few months ago.

I worked with a small team who was starting a research program within our organization.  The stakeholders had very different ideas about what their web presence should feel like.  I facilitated an experience workshop, which led to a set of images and adjectives that summarized their shared vision. This PDF shows a few of the slides that summarized the shared vision that resulted from this experience_workshop.

Additional Deliverables – Communicating Big Ideas

I created this visualization for a client so they could see how their target audiences evolved as their relationship with the organization deepened.

I created this visualization for a client so they could see how their target audiences evolved as their relationship with the organization deepened. Created in Visio.

A storyboard I created to describe a new way of creating collaboration communities used by internal staff.

A storyboard I created to summarize how our development team might enhance the way staff establish collaboration communities and communicate access to external users. Created in Visio.

My Life Outside of Work

I love to work and I love to play. Most of my free time is spent with my family, but when I can, I sneak away with our dog, Echo, and continue to train him.  I’m not talking about basic dog commands; we’ve mastered those.  My goal is to become a Search and Rescue team.

German Shepherd dog jumping through a sprinkler.

Meet Echo. He is our German Shepherd and with a lot more hard work, a future search and rescue dog.

Echo has always been good at playing “Find the Man,” and thanks to Applejack K-9 Academy, I think we have a real shot at become a working team some day. I love this small business so much that I volunteered to design and manage their website. This is what their homepage looked like in April 2012…

Screenshot of the Applejack K-9 Academy in April 2012

The original Applejack K-9 Academy site that I took over in October 2013.

Using the Bootstrap framework I designed and built a responsive website that streamlined their content to address three key business objectives:

  • Buy an AppleJack K-9 puppy.
  • Learn about their training program.
  • Contact the business.
Screenshot of the current Applejack K-9 Academy website.

Unlike their local competitors, Applejack K-9 has a responsive website.

Get in Touch

Contact me via LinkedIn if you would like to connect and discuss any of the following:

  • Topics related to user experience design, research and strategy
  • Opportunities for networking with other technology driven and intellectually curious professionals