In the fall of 2014 I was accepted as a community documenter to attend the inaugural Chicago School of Data Days conference hosted by the Smart Chicago Collaborative.
During this two day long event, I was responsible for documenting sessions and speakers discussing the ecosystem of data and public service in Chicago.
This year, the work that was documented during the conference is being compiled into a book that will serve as a map of the current ecosystem of government, nonprofit and public groups using and sharing data for civic good in Chicago.
Since 2018, I’ve been working at The Mars Agency creating an in-house startup called SmartAisle.
SmartAisle is the world’s first in-store voice activated shopping assistant. Launched in 3 pilot stores nationwide across alcohol beverage, beauty, and consumer packaged goods, SmartAisle aims to help users select the best products with confidence in-store.
Chatbot Design at Nuance
For two years, I worked with the talented team at Nuance designing chatbots for Fortune 500 companies like Esurance, AT&T, Verizon, and more.
While many of my skills from previous roles have been transferrable, I've been developing my skillset in working with statistical language models to make conversational interfaces that employ language successfully to reduce comprehension errors, and therefore user frustration.
Often, clients will come to Nuance with a rough idea of what content they'd like their Virtual Assistants (VAs) to cover. We'll pull in data from their IVRs, if they have them with us, other live-chat applications, and other sources to determine their most high-volume content. From there, we need to make sense of this data and organize it in a way that not only will be clear and usable for users, but fits into a statistical language model to improve comprehension.
I work closely with Speech Scientists, Developers, and Clients to determine what content needs to be covered by Virtual Assistants. Once content is confirmed, it goes through a very detailed process of information architecting to ensure that we are designing a grammar that is optimized for users.
We divide content areas out into larger content topics, and divide by subptobics and concepts within those larger buckets. Each of these help inform our complex decision tree flows, and ensure that we have intents that aren't overlapping and cause grammar confusion.
An example of this type of content breakdown can be found here.
I train clients on all of this complicated intertwining of content and interaction design, teaching them to think of the content as a complex web of a conversation rather than a 1-1 call and response system.
I evaluate the success of these Virtual Assistants over time to ensure the grammar is still working successfully. In cases where users are not asking certain questions in high volume, there are large numbers of incomprehension, or otherwise - those are ripe moments for redesign and a review of how the structure of the grammar was made.
I'm growing a great deal on this team, and better understanding how to construct complex conversations with functionality that brings in variable content, has complex decision trees, and working with larger profile clients. I will continue to update this space as I take on new client challenges.
My interest in making the world a better place is fused with my passion for Design. I carry this passion with me, and use my skills to advocate for equality, fairness, and safety for all, both at and away from the design table.
In my spare time, you can find me doing things like strategizing with the amazing Marginally Designed group - to design more inclusive spaces for designers in Chicago, or volunteering at Girls Rock Camp Chicago - teaching young women and non-binary campers that they have the skills to succeed in fields they are marginalized in.
If you'd like to chat about your cool project, or need an extra motivated hand - just reach out via my Contact page.
Career Foundry Course Design
I co-authored the new Career Foundry course Intro to VUI Design, in partnership with Amazon Alexa. The course materials focus on the best practices for designing voice applications, the foundations of voice design, and how to design your own Alexa skill.
As a Voice User Interface Designer at Emmi Solutions, I've designed captivating interactive telephone conversations to make it easy for patients to take action in their healthcare. Imagine a mix, somewhere between Siri and a robo-call. Our IVR solutions work as a personal assistant for patients, and help direct them to resources that are difficult to find.
On a normal day, you might find me researching patient forums for new breastfeeding mothers, or visiting a diabetes clinic on the north side of Chicago interviewing Spanish-speaking diabetes patients. From scripting out sensitive conversations and working with our voice talent to record them in a tone that's just right - to wireframing out conversations with diverging possiblities for our web developer, I design all aspects of these automated conversations.
For more more detail into my design process and deliverables - check out these highlighted projects:
Additional samples of my work are available by request (we work with sensitive clients so sharing is difficult.) If you'd like to hear samples of my designs or scripts, please reach out.
Family Health Risk Screening
At Emmi, I design interactive conversations that help patients feel more at ease with their health conditions, overcome barriers that are difficult to understand, and give them education on topics they need.
One series that I developed that is close to my heart is working on a survey to uncover barriers families are facing that impact their access to healthcare.
These calls reached out to Medicare patients that were recently enrolled in insurance, and needed to be screened for risk level, barriers, and more.
The call asked hard-hitting questions, like "Does your family have enough to eat?" in order to determine what things the patients new care team could follow-up on and provide support for.
To begin this project, I was given a simple paper questionnaire that was to be turned into an IVR survey. To make this experience more thoughtful and beneficial for users, I conducted lots of research with real patients, and pulled from my own experience in AmeriCorps applying for public assistance.
I attempted to make the survey more similar to a conversation with a trusted individual, one that was non-partial and could help patients get their information to their physicians in a discreet and helpful way.
Of the 7446 who picked up this cold call, an astounding 3220 agreed to take the 10-minute survey, and of those, 2525 (nearly 80%) completed the entire screening. Even though there was an option to "skip" these questions, or just hang up, the vast majority of parents felt comfortable responding to even the most sensitive questions, and we were able to put many families in touch with the care and resources they needed.
During my time at Emmi I worked on designing a new line of product, Emmi SMART, a product that combines phone calls, text messages, and interactive health programs to follow-up with patients after an acute Diabetes related incident. You can learn more about that product here:
Our internal team was tasked with designing a multi-modal series to assist diabetic patients through out-of-control moments in their patient journey. There was no precedent for this work at Emmi, so we began the design and research process by pushing the limits of what would really be helpful to users.
We went to clinics and interviewed patients to learn more about their pain points and what they need the most help and support with managing. This brought to light that patients need help with medication adherence, knowing where to go when an issue arises, and depression support.
We collaborated with developers, the product team, sales teams, and marketing teams to bring this project through to fruition. At the time that I left Emmi, this call had launched to 2 pilot clients, each who enroll patients on a rolling basis. One patient even completed the initial screeners and reported that they had depression, allowing for follow-up from their care team and a proper diagnosis.
I'm thankful to have gotten the chance to work on products that are impacting the lives of real patients and helping them have an empowered role in their own healthcare.
XA Day of Professionalization
In the Spring of 2019, I was invited by Michigan State University to present an immersive day-long workshop on Voice User Interface Design.
I authored course material, designed an interactive exercise, and coached students in creating their own concepts, personas, and journey maps for voice skills.
When I'm not advocating for the needs of users in the design process, I get away from my desk and take lots of photos.
Photography has been such a very important exploratory device for my personal growth - it helps me to get out into the world and look at things a little differently everyday. I think the artistic process has a lot to teach designers.
My photography is featured in local art magazines, like Hooligan Magazine, among others as well. I keep my photo blog updated regularly as well.
HandsOn Tech Chicago
In 2013 I completed a year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA in a Google sponsored program called HandsOn Tech Chicago.
During that time I managed all communications for our team that led free trainings to Chicago nonprofits on technology topics. In a year, we hosted 40 free technology trainings in the Chicago community, and consulted over 40 nonprofits on their specific technology problems.
This program successfully completed its third year of funding and wrapped up nationally in 2014. Samples of my work are available upon request - just reach out on my Contact page.
Interviews with Roxane Gay
As a student researcher for the College of Arts and Letters at MSU, I had the opportunity to interview and meet with Roxane Gay, a prominent short-fiction author, blogger, and esteemed professor at Eastern Illinois University. I was tasked with asking her about her experiences as a writer, and creating videos and a website that highlighted the importance of her literary works and accomplishments.
This project was part of a larger collection of websites to celebrate the works of contemporary black women writers of fiction. For more samples of the interview, visit the Vimeo page.