My Story

I'm a user experience designer, an ethnographer who studies the use of technology, and a photographer. I have designed a wide range of consumer applications, and most of my research has been on the use of mobile devices and technology that helps people communicate and collaborate. Recently I have been looking at ways technology can be used to improve services, such as urban parking and healthcare. I also have experience managing design and engineering teams. I co-authored a book on user interface design called Designing From Both Sides of the Screen, which describes the process of building usable technology from start to finish, with a focus on the collaborative process between designers and engineers.

Although I only recently realized it, I've been designing the world around me for most of my life. When we remodeled our house, I designed the floor plan and selected all the interior materials to create a functional and welcoming space. I designed the wood coffee table and entry table that my husband and I built. As a photographer, I design images with my camera, and I also composite together multiple photos and graphics to create new images. I've designed my own knitted sweaters, and I recently started designing and sewing quilts. Even when I can't implement my designs, I find myself mentally revising the design of everything around me — store checkout procedures, board games, parking lots, you name it.

Technology design

I recently joined Google as user experience researcher, studying people's practices and needs involving cross-device, distributed, secure applications. Before that I spent 7 years at PARC (Palo Alto Reasearch Center), where I conducted ethnographic studies of a range of activities — including the use of mobile devices, parking, and nursing — and then designing solutions to the key problems that emerged from our observations. Before joining PARC, I was a freelance user experience design consultant for several years, working on a range of products for such companies as Intuit, Oracle, Sigaba, and PARC. Prior to that, I worked at AT&T Labs as a Technology Design Leader, leading a small team that built and studied the use of innovative applications to support lightweight communication and awareness among distributed groups. Before AT&T, I was a director at Excite, responsible for the design and production of Excite's web pages and particularly its commerce section.

Aspen Hallway

I began my management career at a startup called Electric Communities (EC) that was building a virtual world to support social interaction and commerce. After designing the virtual world's user interface, I moved into management and, through the magic of startups, wound up co-running the engineering department. Before EC, I spent over six years at Sun Microsystems designing and studying the use of media-based collaboration tools and desktop productivity tools. My formal training is in experimental psychology. I even have a PhD in psycholinguistics from Stanford, but that was in my wild and crazy years.


Several years ago, I gave myself the gift of a year off to pursue my passion for digital photography. I spent a fabulous summer at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, Montana, after which I started a small business called Eureka Photo Design, through which I currently sell stock photos, design composite images, and photograph the occasional event. I also sell my photos as greeting cards at some local shops and online.