As a founding member of Weedguide, I led product development & strategy from initial concept though design, testing, launch and growth. When we began, the general idea was to create a search engine for cannabis related content. From there, I did extensive research on existing offerings in both the general search and cannabis industries to begin creating a product that was unique and filled a void in what was currently available. From initial sketches and wireframe to final design, I designed the UI and User Experience of our product to be inclusive, professional and straightforward.
As a vertical search engine platform, the technical requirements for this product were quite complicated and in-depth. Working with our CTO and development team, we created a proprietary crawler technology to crawl websites, index and store related content. We built a sophisticated set of rules and priorities for determining the value of each piece of content as well as extracting key structured data for returning results based on semantic search.
The front-end web experience was built on a custom content management system (CMS) that integrated both curated content and search result driven content into a single page.
In the screenshot below you’ll see examples of several integrations with various types of content and sources for highlighted placement on the homepage. For example, we created a custom connector for YouTube to pull the most popular videos from a curated list of accounts. We also created a crawler specifically to fetch news articles from trusted news sources in near real time and return results automatically to the homepage.
As the product manager, I defined feature requirements, created projects and tasts within Jira and managed our sprint planning and backlog in conjunction with our CTO. I was responsible for user testing and acceptance before each deployment.
This site is no longer live, but I invite you to click on the image below for a closer view of the homepage.
WGE Inc., Weedguide, is a vertical search engine centered around delivering fragmented and hard to find content directly to consumers. As Chief Marketing Officer and Product Manager at Weedguide, I defined the product requirements and designed the user experience for this early stage startup from initial proof-of-concept through design, development and launch, including competitor analysis, user stories, feature prioritization and testing.
Throughout this process, I worked closely with the CEO to develop custom investor presentations to secure funding for the project. Some presentations were short elevator pitches aimed at introducing our company quickly and opening up an ongoing dialogue. Other presentations were much more lengthy and detailed for in-depth discussions with involved investors.
Using the presentations I created, our team secured over $2 Million in funding in the first round to develop, launch and grow Weedguide.
Due to disclosure and privacy concerns, I have chosen to only include a portion of Weedguide presentation materials.
View the sample presentation as a PDF.
Email marketing is an important way of reaching customers, consumers and followers for almost any industry. Some email marketing campaigns are driven by an e-commerce goal of selling product, while others are used simply for brand awareness and communication.
As Chief Marketing Officer of Weedguide, I created and sent weekly email newsletters to our registered users, highlighting our original blog content and driving traffic to our site. We grew newsletter signups via simple on-screen pop-up on both our website and mobile apps. I tested open rates and engagement with segments of our audience using Mailchimp prior to finalizing content.
We also used email marketing to solicit user feedback about new product features, helping guide the product development process and create a platform our consumers were excited to use.
In addition to Mailchimp, I have experience using Constant Contact as well as integrating these services into various platforms such as WordPress.
View live links to these campaign archives at the following:
(Please note: Weedguide.com is no longer a live website so many links may be broken)
In addition to writing for marketing materials, I have extensive experience writing for customer support guides, presentations and social media. I also write for several blogs and publications, including my own personal blog. I enjoy writing about a variety of topics, through different writing styles.
https://sarahonthetrail.com – My personal blog
https://optoutdoor.com/best-hiking-apps – Freelance writing
https://optoutdoor.com/hiking-first-aid-kit – Freelance writing
https://optoutdoor.com/5-ways-to-stay-clean-while-camping – Freelance writing
https://optoutdoor.com/gaiters-buying-guide – Freelance writing
https://optoutdoor.com/best-backpacking-cook-sets – Freelance writing
https://optoutdoor.com/preparing-your-first-backpacking-trip – Freelance writing
https://optoutdoor.com/2020-big-agnes-copper-spur-hv-ul2 – Freelance writing
https://mediahint.com/support/blog/mediahint-helps-hola-users-switch – Previous client
At MediaHint I led an iterative approach to designing our product’s user experience. Using daily customer feedback and measurable analytics such as monthly revenue and subscription cancellation rates, I was able to gauge the success of implemented changes and evaluate user challenges.
While I believe measurable statistics – revenue growth, new sign-ups, web sessions, etc – are vital to fully understanding a product’s position, caring about the human-centric measurements like how a user feels about your brand, whether they enjoy using your product or are frustrated by it, and does it help make their life better or easier; these are the things that differentiate leading companies.
Over the course of 18 months through an iterative process, I leveraged the valuable feedback I gained while managing customer support to improve the overall usability, accessibility and user flow of MediaHint’s signup process, account interface and support portal. With each design change, I helped shape a product that was more in tune with customer needs, more intuitive to interact with and more accessible to users worldwide.
As a user experience designer, I think beyond how something looks and consider how it works and behaves. By thinking from a user-needs perspective, we can develop a structured experience that blends intuitive design with complex interactions.
The following examples map the user journey through initial registration, approval and login processes for the developer portal of Xfinity® services. I worked directly with the product management team at Comcast Xfinity® to understand their target audience and define a user flow that met their internal requirements while maintaining a strong brand connection and cohesive user experience.
Throughout the wireframe and design process, we focused on anticipating various complex use cases and created scenarios that gave the Xfinity® staff flexibility in handling user situations and scaling for future growth.
I am always excited to build new platforms and products that impact how we interact with each other, how we learn and how we do business.
This product, Thorton, was an opportunity to take the best portions of an existing, enterprise level CMS and create a new platform for online development that could scale quickly and adapt to rapidly changing web technology.
As the User Experience Designer and Product Manager, I focused on a human-centric strategy throughout all phases of this project.
I leveraged my research and critical thinking skills to create well-defined product goals and requirements. I worked with our defined personas and user stories in mind at all times – from high level scenarios like “What is my user trying to accomplish?” to detailed feedback loops such as “What will they expect to happen if they click this button?”.
The following designs are a sampling of the complete user interface I designed for this product.
Explore more Thorton user experience design in User Account Modeling.
I have in-depth experience leading teams in developing complex systems and user experiences for websites and web-based applications. I understand best practices and keep current on evolving industry trends to create innovative yet intuitive interfaces and experiences.
While designing the user account area of Thorton, part of a larger product development, I utilized a consistent style guide to maintain the integral experience connection between these various product elements. Through user flow analysis, testing and team feedback, I refined initial designs and created a detailed product guide to accompany the designs. This guide outlined the critical features and tools necessary for developing a minimum viable product for beta launch.
The following slides are a sample of the complete user interface I designed for this product.
As a new investment and incubator firm, I worked with the team at Multi Venture Capital to create a website that reflected the excitement and potential of their acceleration program and tech investment opportunities, while also communicating the strength and leadership of their executive team and parent company.
When we began this project, the client gave me a vague overview of their company and a document containing a few bullet points of content they thought they might want on the website. I led structured discussions with team leaders to turn what could have been a dry, mundane info site into an interactive user experience with content that defines their brand story and attracts both potential investors and acceleration program participants.
This particular site relied heavily on custom post types and templates to build the backbone of the site content – for example the team profiles and portfolio companies posts. We also developed a custom lightbox experience designed to automatically pull in posts from a particular category – making sure that the client was able to easily update and add new content at any time with no development knowledge or assistance.
This example is part of a custom client training program I created to demonstrate the available tools and features of the Platformic Content Management System. The client had numerous staff members and partner contributors joining each month who needed to learn the system quickly and have easy access to resource documentation.
Due to the scale of the team, instead of trying to do live seminars and work around busy schedules, this video series was developed in conjunction with an admin-only section on their site where staff and contributors could learn at their own pace on-demand.
Whether I’m presenting a first brainstorm of a project idea or a formal investment pitch, I believe in the importance of a creative, clear presentation.
In this example, I leveraged my deep understanding of the product, brand value and position within the market to communicate key messages to high-level executives and investors. I’m able to effectively use research, data-driven analysis and data visualization techniques to maximize impact.
As product manager and user experience architect, one of the initial concerns of my work with MediaHint was to identify the steps the customer would follow in beginning to install and interact with the application.
I worked with our development team to determine the technical requirements of the process; in short: allow user to create account or sign in from a web-based interface, download and install software application, check user authentication against an active paid subscription and initialize application.
My goal from a user experience standpoint was to take this technical process and create an intuitive user journey that accomplished the technical steps needed, while making it fast, easy and transparent for users of all skill levels to understand and complete; maximizing successful engagement and minimizing the risk that users would abandon the process.
The following is one of several user flow charts I created to lead our team through wireframe, design, development, testing and launch of this project.
No matter the size of your business, chances are in today’s workplace at some point you’re asked to juggle multiple responsibilities. As a contractor who works with dozens of clients a year, I’ve built my life around this great balancing act. I thrive under the pressure of deadlines and managing multiple projects at once. I’m experienced leading teams through complex product development cycles at a high level while simultaneously “sweating the small stuff”.
Imagine being given the responsibility of a complete end-to-end redesign and development on 7 separate websites, with 7 distinct clients who have their own needs, schedules and budgets. Now also imagine you’re managing these projects almost simultaneously, completing all 7 projects within a 10 week timeline. Is your head ready to explode?
I believe it takes a unique person to excel in this type of environment and I embrace it whole-heartedly. I successfully launched every single project within our defined timelines and scope, learning valuable lessons as I went about time management, priorities, effecient work-flows and the power of great collaboration.
There are certainly projects that call for a much more methodical, slow-paced approach and these projects drive me as well. With the confidence and mental agility I’ve demonstrated in balancing life as a multi-client freelancer, growing my business as I help others grow theirs, I’m well prepared for the challenges that await.
What good is an amazing product if no one knows how to use it? User manuals and setup guides have long been a source of frustration for customers in all segments. Good user experience design takes the confusion and difficulty out of getting started and gives the customer a sense of success and understanding right away.
To guide customers through the setup process of using this SaaS product on a variety of devices, I created an online learning platform with short video guides to walk users through the process from start to finish.
In addition to the videos, I included written documentation and step-by-step screenshots of the process to further clarify visually and help accommodate different learning styles.
See this setup guide in context at https://mediahint.com/support/setup/ipad.
As Chief Marketing Officer and Product Manager at WGE Inc, I led Agile product development with our CTO including Sprint Planning, daily Stand-ups, Reviews and Backlog Grooming. We utilized JIRA software to track tasks across the team, prioritize bug fixes and backlog issues and deploy new features on a consistent sprint cycle. One of the things I believe is the most important to any product team success is transparency – clearly defining priorities, planning approach and communicating progress. Using software like JIRA in conjunction with Agile allowed our team to easily share information, track progress or report blockers and work effectively together as a remote team.
Years prior, in my Professional Services role at Platformic I used a waterfall model in managing most projects, beginning with a thorough requirements gathering and research phase and leading into wireframes, design and implementation. Using this waterfall approach, I refined my ability to think critically, evaluate clients needs, determine necessary features and accurately create project documentation, timelines and milestones for large scale feature development roll-outs.
JKatPhoto is run by a vibrant photographer with rave reviews from her clients. Her old website however was dark and stagnant, with almost no text and poorly built html that didn’t utilize any modern best-practices. Her talents were overshadowed by a presentation that did nothing to communicate her great qualities and it was difficult to find her via search.
I worked with Kat on a needs-analysis to identify her target audience, prioritize search terms and create a content strategy that would reach the decision making executives, large-businesses and organizations she specializes in working with.
For instance, instead of using titles like “Gallery II” and “Gallery IV”, I created a site architecture that targets specific search segments and uses rich titles like “Environmental Business Portraits” and “Corporate Event Photography.” We also added subtitles and descriptions to each gallery to foster an emotional connection and contribute to prominent search results.
In the months following the launch of JKatPhoto’s new website, site analytics showed dramatic improvement in traffic and Kat secured several large-level projects specifically because of her enriched online presence.
Business today is global and while we often analyze user experience from the standpoint of how the customer interacts with menus, buttons and login processes, it is crucial we also consider the impact of language in the user’s overall experience.
Castello delle Serre, a family-owned boutique B&B in Italy, is an intimate and inclusive experience. From the welcoming way the staff greet you when you arrive, to the glowing reviews from visitors who had the experience of a lifetime, this feeling that you – their guest – is the center of attention is key to their success.
Therefore, their online user experience needed to be just as human-centric; focused on connecting visitors to this dream destination in whatever language they communicate most comfortably in.
Incorporating research and available analytics, we launched the site using the WordPress Multilingual Plugin from WPML.org in both English and Italian – the two most common languages among hotel visitors with plans to scale the languages offered as necessary.