Designing for users from day one, that’s just the way I work. No matter the medium or purpose of the work, there’s only one person that counts—the user. It’s my mission to make sure the user’s experience is always awesome—whatever the work may be.
My earliest experience with digital product design was designing intranet directory systems for AT&T and TimeWarner on the early Web. I went on to design the UI for a basic TV broadcasting application that evolved into another product I worked on—ShadowTV. While at ShadowTV, I was responsible for User Interface and Experience design, taking charge of the direction and shape of product features for this groundbreaking TV monitoring Web app.
Most recently, I’ve had the privilege of being the product and UX lead on Vook, a cloud-based end-to-end epublishing system that has been called “a game changer” by Publishers Weekly and praised for its ease of use by countless users.
First a little background, ebook publishing is still a lot harder than it should be, usually involving workers with Web-development skills—Vook makes this complex task easy. Vook is an end-to-end cloud-based epublishing solution. With Vook, users can create and publish their ebook anywhere; build and style awesome looking ebooks without knowing any code; easily add video, pictures and sound, preview their ebooks quickly and easily on any device; manage metadata simply; watch sales from multiple channels in one dashboard.
Right after Vook’s public launch, I began using a combination of monitoring Web analytics and user testing to optimize user conversion. One example of the improved signup process is a unified login and signup page—reducing the need to drive users to the correct page. I also worked with engineering to remove as much friction as possible, reducing the signup workflow from a five-step process to a single step.
From one dashboard, users can start a new project, quickly see the status of current projects and even get sales data from multiple ebook marketplaces—including Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
In addition to an easy user experience and flexible workflow, the Vook Boilerplate and Style Editor are two major contributions I personally made to Vook. To learn how ebooks work, I learned how to hand-code them. During that process, I quickly realized an HTML and CSS boilerplate could be devised for rapid development. The boilerplate could also be packed with best practices and allow for graceful degradation. My work on the initial Vook boilerplate led me to the idea of a graphic user interface that abstracted CSS concepts enough for someone who does not code to be able to style an ebook at the level of someone that can—but still powerful enough for a hand-coding pro. It was great working with Vook engineers to take the initial boilerplate concept and take it to the next level using HTML and CSS precompilers. Even more rewarding is seeing what Vook users can do with the Style Editor I designed for them.
Metadata is the lifeblood of ebook marketing and key to the discoverability that leads to ebook sales. Managing all of the data is a huge challenge, as each ebook store has differing requirements—sometimes for the same data. I created a streamlined user experience by analyzing all of the data sets and collapsing it down to a unified UI broken into three task clusters.
One of the major promises of Vook is push button distribution to multiple ebook distribution channels. Normally, this action requires organizing files for each platform, gathering and preparing metadata XML files or logging into each channel where the user must retype the same data over and over, while uploading the same files multiple times. The distribution user-flow I created for Vook distills all of this down to a single, easy and painless process.
While dated (created in 2001), ShadowTV is another great example of my product UX work.
When I joined ShadowTV the product was in need of a full rebrand and product UX overhaul. I worked with the CMO and started from square one, reevaluating message, competition and audience. I developed a new brand and redesigned the user interface and user experience of the product from the ground up.
ShadowTV is a Web app that creates a searchable recording of televised programming for use of CMOs and PR agencies—think giant DVR on steroids, with a commercial application.
My interest in web design started in the early days of the commercial Web. I helped introduce web design as a service at Bill Smith Studios, designed and built an early site for Scholastic (sadly, Scholastic didn’t launch the site), and designed an award-winning site for Giant Step/Groove Academy.
Right after Vook’s public launch, I began using a combination of monitoring Web analytics and user testing to optimize user conversion. The result included a website redesign that resulted in a 17% lift in traffic from the homepage to the trial sign-up page, as well as changes to the signup process.
To introduce advertisers to the newly relaunched Citysearch, my team created a sweepstakes. The campaign kicked-off with an HTML-email announcing the sweepstakes. The bottom portion of the sweepstakes website contained animation that highlighted the new focus and features of Citysearch.
The Film Photography Podcast had grown organically over the course of a year, spanning a podcast, blog, community on Flickr and a storefront—the number of channels had become unwieldy. I was challenged with creating a brand identity (including development of the mission statement) and web strategy that united all of the disparate parts under the Film Photography Project umbrella. For the website, I was charged with definition, design and project management.
WorldWalk website design for Jasper Design
Open Space Institute website design for Jasper Design
While at IAC I founded an internal agency to meet the needs of advertisers looking for integration with IAC websites. While there, led ideation and creation of award-winning digital creative, including microsites and banners, for big brands such as Schick, Bacardi, and Visa. I not only filled the roles of creative technologist, creative director and business owner, I created advertising products that leveraged Citysearch, Match.com, Evite, and other IAC sites.
The Girl’s Guide to Dating connected Schick’s brand message with their target audience and introduced them to Juliette, the user’s “faithful guide to dating,” who provided valuable tips and advice via video clips and brief articles.
The site also incorporated: mobile “date escape” functionality; sweepstakes; online quiz; content from Ticketmaster to buy tickets to fun events for a date and Citysearch to find the best date spots in your city; and editorial from Match.com’s online magazine, Happen. This site/campaign was an OMMA awards finalist.
The Advance Your Senses microsite helped Acura raise brand awareness and shift perception among its target audience of men, ages 30 to 54, by leveraging Expedia and Citysearch. The site focused on unique and off-the-beaten-path travel experiences. This highly interactive Flash site featured exotic travel destinations provided by Expedia, with new destinations published weekly. To highlight the five senses, each trip contained multiple embedded, rich media hot spots, which included video, audio, and images. The site also contained links to relevant sections on Citysearch and a user-generated section where visitors could upload photos from their own travel adventures.
This microsite helped TBS raise awareness for the season 2 premiere of My Boys series by leveraging Citysearch to deliver geo-targeted sites for 10 key markets. In addition, the show’s key characters provided recommendations for their favorite hot spots in each of these markets—making the site personable and also giving the users an opportunity to identify with the characters individually.
Evite was a natural fit for this campaign in terms of aligning with Hpnotiq’s objective to reach women celebrating special occasions. In order to meet the client’s needs, I developed the concept for a custom Evite invitation with a countdown clock widget, which became the centerpiece of the larger campaign. The widget was incorporated in a custom Evite invitation, syncing the countdown clock to the date and time of the party. In addition, the widget contained five drink recipes, and had a viral component that enabled the host or guests to ”grab“ the widget and place it on a social networking site such as Facebook—enabling Hpnotiq to put its brand not only in front of party’s host and guests, but also the extended audience of the partygoers’ social network.
A project for Artifact Studio, I worked on design, as well as hand-coding this Jo Malone HTML-email.
A project for Artifact Studio, I worked on design, as well as hand-coding this La Mer HTML-email.
When I started at IAC, the go-to custom solution was the microsite, but I always felt there was something wrong with that model. You build a microsite for the advertiser, but no one knows the site exists. You try to drive user-traffic to the site with banners, but always end up with tons of optimization (translation, lots of free inventory). The “banner gadget” solved all the above problems by taking the functionality of a microsite and putting it into a banner—this way the functionality was in front of the user. How well did this solution work? Very well, with engagement rates of over 15%, directly contributing to closing more than $2.25 million in advertising sales, plus winning nine creative awards, including an OMMA.
This OMMA award-winning banner gadget delivered a dynamic, fully integrated, cross-site experience to users from within an ad unit. When users engaged with content in one of the Evite (host a mojito party) or Citysearch (find the best mojito in your area) tabs, they were sent to those sites, where the landing page was roadblocked with Bacardi Mojito branding. On Evite, users could create Bacardi branded invitations to invite friends to their party, further spreading the word about the original Bacardi Mojito.
Using Citysearch listings, Visa sponsored a custom tool that enables users to find the perfect date spot by selecting their market and type of date (takeout, outdoor dining, martini bar, etc). Once preferences were selected, the gadget displayed the suggested location with name and address. In addition, users could click on a link within the gadget to go to Citysearch for more ideas. This banner gadget ran on Match.com.
The Evite Content Module takes the banner gadget concept and makes it a sponsorable part of the site. I was the driving force in developing the Evite Content Module, mapping out functionality, UI and design.
Functionality included: recipes, party tips, party tools such as drink and budget calculators, how-to videos, and product and gift suggestions.
With my marketing education, branding has always been a focus for me. The following logos were designed over the span of my career.
Most of the music packaging work presented here was completed while I operated Industrial Strength Design. When I first opened the studio at the age of 24, I envisioned working on annual reports, but being young and located in the East Village of New York, a more accessible market was the music industry. Projects ranged from music packaging design for self-published release to the major labels—I even got to work on a few projects for some Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famers.
Everyone asks about this cover. The label was sure this CD would sell big, so I wanted to do something that was simple and loud, something that could be seen the second you walked into a music store; thus the field of bright green and the use of the big grinning baby in the corner (yes it is a manipulated image). Over 7 million copies of the CD were sold in the U.S. and Canada alone.
At the start of the World Wide Web’s commercial debut, there was a lot of talk about interactivity and how the Web was much more interactive. While I jumped into learning about and designing for the Web right from the start—I also wanted to show that paper, with its tactile nature, is very much interactive as well. To do this, I started producing self-promotional pieces that showcased what I called “interactive paper” designs. I continue to create “interactive paper” designs, as well as digital interactive work.
This business card is a great example. The business manager of Limbo—a cafe formerly located in the East Village—asked me to design a business card that was unique and fun. The result was a business card with both a visual pun and optical illusion wrapped into one. The card went on to win four design awards, including Best in Show in the Strathmore Graphics Gallery.
Another example is Trick or Treat, a self-promotion for Industrial Strength Design created for Halloween. When the string on top is pulled, the head slides out and a paper tongue with contact information sticks out. The piece went on to win a number of design awards, including the AIGA’s Objects of Desire.
One more example, is a limited edition run of 500 letter-pressed race cars was part of a self-promotion for Industrial Strength Design.
Michael is a leader bringing an entrepreneurial spirit and track record of delivering user-centered, award-winning product and creative solutions that add measurable value. Michael’s experience spans advertising, branding and development on both the agency and client sides.
At 24, Michael founded and operated Industrial Strength Design, an award-winning design studio whose client roster included hip downtown businesses to Fortune 500 companies—this work garnered a number of design awards and graced the covers of multi-gold and platinum music releases.
While Creative Director at Digital Connection, Michael developed a visual language for the ShadowTV brand and UI/UX design of their video search technology. As a Creative Director at IAC, Michael founded and built an internal agency to help advertisers such as Acura, Bacardi, Disney, GM, Samsung, Schick, T-Mobile and Universal Pictures go-beyond-the-banner by creating new, user-focused advertising products that leveraged IAC brands and delighted users.
As VP Product and Creative, Michael was a driving force in the strategic pivot of tech startup Vook—a digital publisher turned Software as a Service provider, developing a cloud-based end-to-end epublishing web-application. Michael spearheaded the user experience and product roadmap of Vook, which has been called “a game changer” by Publishers Weekly and praised for its ease of use by countless users.
Most recently, after being the driving force in the strategic pivot of tech startup Vook, Michael has joined early stage Y Combinator startup SmartAsset, helping users find the answers to life's big financial questions.
A leader bringing an entrepreneurial spirit and track record of delivering award-winning, user-centered, creative solutions that add measurable value.
Product design lead of early stage Y-Combinator startup answering life’s big financial questions.
Hired as Creative and User Experience Director, quickly promoted to VP Product and Creative of digital publisher tech startup turned Software as a Service provider, developed cloud-based end-to-end epublishing web-application.
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Authored and executed business plan to create internal digital agency, which established award-winning creative group as profit center attached to over $16MM.
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Led redesign of company’s consumer website. Oversaw corporate branding, including marketing and advertising. Art Directed Out&About product line. Managed and mentored staff, distance managed staff in Buenos Aires and San Francisco.
Worked with a wide variety of agencies and clients on advertising, branding, and web projects.
Executive team member and design practice lead of digital agency and tech startup.
1000 Retail Graphics, Adobe Site of the Day, AIGA Objects of Design, American Center for Design 100 Show, Communicator Awards, Creativity Annual Awards, Creativity International Awards, DPAC Awards, Fresh Ideas in Letterhead & Business Cards Design 3, GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards, GDUSA American In-house Design Awards, How Magazine Self-Promotion Annual, Magellan Awards, OMMA Awards, Print Magazine Regional Design Annual, Print Best of Typography, Strathmore Graphics Gallery
In some cases both advertiser and brand are listed.
In some cases both advertiser and brand are listed.
Agencies and studios
Brands (including both direct clients and brands I worked with through the above agencies and studios)