Head of Product & UX, Billy Penn; Technical Project Manager, Hearst
Online Publishing | Columbus, Ohio Area, US
A passionate advocate of the workshifting movement, I've spent the last 15 years as a distributed team member at Hearst, Billy Penn, AOL, Myspace, Abbott Nutrition, Blockbuster, EightShapes, Refinery29, and Speek. I began my career in the interactive field as a hybrid UX and visual designer, focusing on product design for mobile and web applications. I've since widened my skillset to include Director of Product at an early-stage start-up, and Technical Project Management for an international development team at a Fortune 500 company.
Technical Project Manager, Hearst Digital Studios
Product/UX Lead, Billy Penn (billypenn.com)
Design Director - AOL
Director of Product - Speek, an early-stage startup and a member of the 500 Startups family
UX & Visual Design - Myspace, Abbott Nutrition, Blockbuster, EightShapes and Refinery29
► SxSWi 2015 - Austin, TX - "Reducted: Surviving the Pink Slip Apocalypse"
► SxSWi 2014 - Austin, TX - "Introvert Uprising: When The Silent Strike Back"
► SxSWi 2012 - Austin, TX - "Enhanced Interrogation: The Modern-Day Interview"
► Geekend Roadshow 2012 - Boston, MA - "Don't Jump: Working Aboard a Sinking Ship"
► SxSWi 2011 - Austin, TX - "Workplace Indecision: Should I Stay Or Should I Go"
► Geekend 2011 - Savannah, GA - "Showering Optional: Tips for Remote Employees"
► DCWEEK 2011 - Washington, DC - "Solution Oriented Visual Design"
► SxSWi 2010 - Austin, TX - "Showering Optional: Tips for Remote Employees"
► NxNEi 2010 - Toronto, Canada - "Work Anywhere"
Areas of Focus
► Product Management
► User Experience Design
► Creative/Art Direction
► Mobile Design
► Solution-Oriented Visual Design
► UX Strategy
► Project Ideation
► Information Visualization
► Interaction design
► User Flows
2014 - Present
Technical Project Manager / Hearst
Hearst Digital Studios is dedicated to developing all-new products and video channels with brands from across the corporation.
As Technical Project Manager, I oversee an international team of front-end and backend developers located in all corners of the world. In May 2015 we successfully launched the Good Housekeeping TV website, offering a monthly video subscription service to readers of Good Housekeeping Magazine. Currently in development are two new video-focused sites in partnership with Verizon: SeriouslyTV and Rated Red.
2014 - Present
Head of Product & UX / Billy Penn
Billy Penn, a hyperlocal news portal focused on news and events in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, PA, is a mobile-first web site launched in October 2014.
Together with a small team of WordPress developers and journalists, we designed and deployed the BillyPenn.com website in a rapid dev cycle, launching in just under 6 weeks. In August 2015, Billy Penn won the Philly Geek Awards 2015 Startup of the Year. In March of 2016, Gannett announced an investment in our parent company, Spirited Media.
Director of Product / Speek
Speek was included in Wall Street Journal’s “Top 25 Startups of the Year” and Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Most Brilliant Companies” for 2013.
As Director of Product, I worked closely with the executive team, marketing, sales and engineering within a fast-paced agile (Kanban) startup environment to manage the lifecycle of the Speek product to create a seamless experience to maximize customer retention and improve acquisitions.
► Managed and communicated prioritization of features, making tradeoffs with a mind towards user and business benefits, tracking issues through JIRA to implement incremental improvements for each product release.
► Led product initiatives to achieve audience growth and revenue goals by utilizing analytics gathered from Mixpanel, Google Analytics and A/B tests from Unbounce and Optimizely to inform product enhancements.
► Provided hands-on creative expertise developing user stories, use cases, wireframes and visual design for the Speek product across all platforms, as well as creative guidance for email drip campaigns and online marketing efforts.
► Distributed team located in California, Washington, DC, New York and Vietnam.
Design Director, AIM / AOL
AOL's Instant Messenger Client (AIM) reaches 3.5 million monthly active users with 1.3 million daily active user views, leading all major competitors in time spent per user by more than 10 minutes.
As Design Director, I set the creative vision and strategy for the entire AIM brand by effectively managing and overseeing multiple projects simultaneously during 2-week agile development sprints across the web, desktop, mobile and enterprise teams. I evangelized conceptual ideas and design rationale for new features to innovate and attract new users while maintaining the existing demographic – 70% of all users have been with AIM for 3 or more years and continue to use legacy versions of the client.
► Exceeded expectations on annual performance review.
► Designed visual prototype of the AOL Family Chat App, a cross-platform tool to aid in family communication. The concept was adopted by MapQuest as the basis for their Family Center mobile application.
► Released updated AIM Client, collaborating with the development team to integrate popular features from the legacy client into the “new” AIM web and desktop applications, and proactively sought out incremental improvements for further iterations.
► Worked with engineering and product management to ensure interaction and visual designs communicate and function successfully for varying technical and performance specifications across the Mac, Windows, iOS and Android platforms.
► Creation of design for online marketing efforts.
► Distributed team located in Washington, DC , California, Texas, New York and the Ukraine.
UX/Visual Design Contractor / Refinery29, Inc.
Refinery29, the largest independent fashion and style website in the United States and the fastest growing media company on the 2013 Inc. 500 list, delivers nonstop inspiration to live a more stylish and creative life. Working together with the in-house design and development teams based in New York City, I helped to define the user interface and visual design for new and existing Refinery29 products and features.
► Designed onboarding process for the R29 Shop.
► Produced sketches and visual design for conceptual ‘R29 Stylebook’ product.
Principal UX Designer / EchoStar Corporation / Blockbuster
Developed, defined and prioritized the product vision and strategy from development of new products to enhancements of existing products across all digital platforms. Cultivated a viewpoint on the evolution of digital product experiences, including how consumers interact with devices, environments, content, and commerce, now and in the future.
► Successfully launched the DVDs By Mail website, acting as the Creative and User Experience Design Lead connecting the executive teams at Comcast and Blockbuster to leverage assets from both companies into one online resource.
► Established look and feel of all print marketing materials for Blockbuster’s Camp Wannawatchamovie 2011 summer campaign, producing in-store point-of-sale merchandising and signage.
► Led design efforts for Blockbuster Android and iPad Tablet application, defining all product requirements and requirements documentation to present to key stakeholders.
► Conducted comprehensive competitive analysis of key competitors in the digital video industry. Maintained awareness of trends and advancements in the digital consumer space.
► Led creative direction of existing and new products throughout the entire product lifecycle, from initial explorations through final design deliverables, including use cases, task flows, and detailed mockups for development and QA.
► Distributed team located in Texas, California, New York, and Washington, DC.
Visual/UX Design Contractor / Abbott Nutrition
UX and visual design lead for the Abbott Nutrition International team, working with distributed team to maintain design consistency of the Abbott brand across all international product offerings.
► Created visual design, artwork and specs for the Abbott Nutrition international websites, including country-specific sites for India, Russia, Vietnam and Singapore.
► Developed interactive tools for expectant mothers.
Visual/UX Design Contractor / AOL / Userplane
UX and visual design lead for the Userplane communication platform. Collaborated with distributed team members in a fast-paced, agile, startup-like environment to develop a shared vision of the updated Userplane communication platform. Led the process to define the user experience and create designs that delivered on the product’s objectives.
► Provided wireframes, UX flows and visual design for the Mini-Chat, EventChat and Webchat web applications.
► Created all marketing materials, including magazine advertisements and the implementation of the Userplane trade show booth.
Visual Design Contractor / MySpace
Worked with the Profiles team in Beverly Hills, CA to create visual treatments of reputation systems for the Futura Myspace release in October 2010.
Principal Visual Designer, AIM Connect / AOL Time Warner
Design lead and primary point of contact for all design-related projects on the AIM Connect and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) Client teams in a remote capacity. Product focus included brand development, styleguide creation, user interface design and overall look and feel for the Socialthing/AIM Connect web application. Partnered and collaborated with members of senior management team on a daily basis. Worked with geographically distributed teams based in CA, CO, NY and VA.
► Partnered with Director of Marketing and VP of the AOL PeopleNetworks team to create sales presentation mocks and ad placements for the AIM Connect brand, increasing product awareness; created web presence for the AIM Connect brand.
► Assisted SVP of Marketing and Partnerships in creation of sales mocks in tight time frame for a campaign which encouraged Ford Fiesta to work with AIM.
► Collaborated with internal Authentication and Key Experiences teams to develop new authentication screens for use within the AIM Connect platform.
► Named winner of internal competition to redesign company Intranet. (today.office.aol.com)
► Selected by management as one of five colleagues to attend Ad Week 2009 in NYC as a representative of the AIM Instant Messaging Client team.
► Exceeded expectations on performance evaluations for past 3 years and received Distinguished Performance recognition during first year as a remote employee.
Principal Visual Designer, Goowy Media, Inc. / AOL Time Warner
Supported all design needs for small start-up acquisition within the AOL PeopleNetworks team. Developed user interface and visual design of Yourminis widgets. Introduced redesign for Goowy’s web presence; worked with teams based in CA, VA, NC, NY, and India.
► Created user experience flows and visual designs utilized by the Bangalore development team. Successfully implemented Yourminis widgets for the Ticketmaster EventEngine, CBS Survivor Participant Tracker, Macy’s 100th Anniversary Trivia and Nintendo’s “Defend the Castle” game.
► Initiated and utilized new technologies (Flash) which cut down build time for developers and received recognition from management for this time-saving effort.
► Delivered widget design prototypes to sales team for use in retaining new clients, including FedEx, CBS Sports, Sex & the City Movie and Coke.
Sr. Visual Designer for AIM Product Design Group / AOL Time Warner
Performed rapid design prototyping for new AIM products and services working with Virginia-based design team.
► Played integral role in successfully launching the interactive timeline-based web application Circavie.com. Elements from CircaVie.com have since been adapted for use within the current bebo user profiles and AIM Lifestream products.
► Selected by SVP of Global Communication to assist in creating Flash-based application to promote a new product on the bebo platform. Presentation was made by Joanna Shields, President of AOL PeopleNetworks to Jefferey Bewkes (CEO, Time Warner), which led to development and implementation of the current bebo profiles timeline application.
► Created moodboards and promotional artwork based on persona profiles, defining the design aesthetic for the redesigned site.
► Redesigned AIM Today web experience by defining style guidelines and partner advertising specifications to drive additional e-commerce revenue.
Visual Designer for AIM Product Design Group / AOL Time Warner
Provided design support to aid sales initiatives, including static and animated design mocks for partners, exploration of additional revenue streams, and click through rate improvements.
► Managed Columbus-based AIM design team in creation and development of AIM prototype applications and services.
Design Contractor for Netscape and AIM Today / AOL Time Warner
Hired permanently from a 3-month contract status as a result of outstanding results in the design and implementation of sponsored “takeovers” appearing on the AIM Today Welcome Screen and creating high-performing Flash-based games for Netscape’s Fun & Games Channel.
Art Director / IndexBlue, Inc.
Led creative direction on the conceptualization and development of interactive online solutions for school districts and small businesses in Ohio and surrounding areas.
Senior Designer / S.A.C.I.M., Inc.
Designed web sites and promotional graphics for online gaming portals.
Interactive Designer / Horizons Video & Film
Produced multimedia content for clients in the educational, health and entertainment industries, including Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Cardinal Health, Bank One, Garfield/PAWS Corporation and PBS.