Keynotes, lectures and workshops.

I strive to deliver thought-provoking, entertaining and — most importantly — practical advice that attendees can put to use the minute they get back to work.

It’s my job to make you look good.

From global conferences to local meet ups to college and high school events, I am never anything less than completely honored when someone chooses me as a speaker. That’s because the last 20 years of public speaking have made it clear to me that with this choice comes risk.

The success of any event rests on the quality of the presenters and speakers – and whether or not they engage their audiences and deliver valuable insight. To say there’s a lot on your shoulders, as an organizer, is a massive understatement. So I take the responsibility of making the event a success every bit as seriously as you do.

Finding the right speaker is always a challenge, so I’ve put this overview together in order to help you make an informed decision. For starters, here’s what I look like in action:

  • Replies within 24 hours to phone calls and email messages.
  • A personal phone consultation prior to the event, so we can discuss what would be most valuable for you and your audience.
  • Promotion of your event on my website, blog and social media channels.
  • A custom resource page, created exclusively for your event, including the slides I used in the presentation, along with any other resources I think might benefit attendees.
  • A quick follow-up survey to make sure I met your expectations and to get your honest feedback on my contribution.

I spend a great deal of time talking specifically about the principles and practices of good UX. But there are a number of hot-button topics that audiences, students and clients wrestle with, and I find myself returning to them quite often. Here are a few of the most-requested topics from my speaking engagements and training workshops:

Dark Patterns: Responsible UX and Software Design

We’re living in a time where, increasingly, safety and responsibility are taking a back seat to being first-to-market, in the name of innovation. Where Facebook’s mantra of “moving fast and breaking things” is a badge of honor.

The result? User experiences with digital products that at best, create barriers to use and adoption — and at worst, cross the boundaries of personal privacy and leave users exposed to harm.

Some of this is intentional, but much of it isn’t. In many cases, product teams don’t realize the risks they’re taking, or the potential damage that could be done once a build is out in the world. It’s the direct result of us believing the myths and mantras of failing faster, a misunderstanding of what an MVP is supposed to be, and a resistance to looking before we leap.

The price of this approach has become quite high, and the people paying the price are the developers designers and product owners doing the work. And if it’s our feet being held to the fire, then it’s on us — ALL of us — to do better.

This talk focuses on the ethical responsibility every designer of every kind has to the people they create for. It explores “dark patterns” in UX and software design: deceptive UX and UI interactions that mislead, trick and expose users to harm on any number of levels.

We’ll explore what they are, how they occur, who they hurt and what we must do to prevent them.

5 Rules for UX Disruption

We live in a time where well-established products and brands are routinely (and suddenly) overthrown by new companies and products. Uber, anyone?

Disruption is a powerful word. It conjures images of full-scale revolution, of overthrowing the powers that be in a flurry of action to massive cheers from the people on the streets. In the world of UX and Design, it’s often painted as a single triumphant moment where everyone “sees the light” and commits on the spot to changing everything.

The truth, however, is that disruption — when it works — is usually a whole lot quieter than we imagine. It doesn’t happen all at once, in a blinding, revelatory flash; it’s really a slow, steady shift, often a process of changing one mind at a time. It’s the result of patience, persistence and perseverance.

Here I share my 5 rules, born from nearly three decades of working with Enterprise organizations, that students and young UXers, designers or developers must be able to apply in order to move their employers, organizations and clients from mediocrity to greatness.

Design Like a Startup

From high school students starting businesses from their rooms to college students planning the next Facebook, startups are everywhere. But along with this new found power come challenges: separating the urgent trumps the important. Mistaking speed or task completion for value and success.

The startup experience comes with tremendous pressure to deliver meaningful improvement – without spending the time or money you know it really takes to do that. It can mean staring down a seemingly impossible coding workload – and now you’re saddled with the responsibility of designing a better user experience, too.

Essentially, startup life for designers, developers or UXers means you will be expected to work miracles across many different areas. Never mind that you may have no training in these areas, or that some of these skills are in direct opposition to what you do best.
The result? Burnout factor is high, tempers are short, and the question of how to truly improve product quality and user experience often seems rhetorical.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve seen people (and teams) rise far above what anyone thought was possible within the constraints of time, budget, and effort. They were able to make quantum leaps in product improvement simply by changing the way they thought about their work. By redefining what it means to design. By adopting and applying practices and principles that are an inherent part of startup life.

I’ve done it and they did it, which means you can do it, too. Let’s dive into what it means to design like a startup, along with the mechanics of how new product ideas are conceived, tested, designed and built.

Think First: Why Great UX Starts Between Your Ears (and Not on the Screen

Since UX has become a buzzword, developers and programmers have been feeling the pressure to get better at the visual part – and quickly. They’ve got the coding part down, but the visual and interactive parts feel like a Mount Everest-sized challenge. The common cry is often “but I’m not a UI designer!”

I get letters every week from developers and students learning to code who are extremely worried about the fact that their employers and clients expect them to be as equally skilled in visual UI design as they are in the realm of technical complexity.

But I have good news: they may never be UI designers – and it doesn’t matter.

In this session, I show developers and programmers how it’s possible to design great user experiences without a shred of visual design talent.
They learn how changing the way they think about features, functions and implementations makes a massive, positive difference in the quality and value of the user experience.

UI Crash Course for Software Developers

An interface has to be much more than a collection of isolated interactions. In order for people to be able to use something easily —and well — our minds need to perceive that smaller interactions are related to each other. That they work together to complete a larger task.

If users are not able to perceive this, the disconnect leaves a great deal of room for confusion. People get stuck, or enter the wrong information. Tasks take twice as long as they should, or they abandon the screen altogether. Every one of these scenarios has significant consequences for the organizations that create these products.

I get hundreds of emails every day from students who tell me they’re unsure where to start in evaluating UI design and/or UX issues; they’re hoping to get off the starting block with some common, universal things that are easy to spot (and quick to fix).

That’s not only possible, it’s necessary.

The first pass at improving what you’re building should be running down a checklist of things that you can spot easily — provided you know what you’re looking for. In this crash-course style session, I’ll show you what to look for across 9 specific types of product attributes:

  1. Content
  2. Labeling
  3. Presentation
  4. Navigation
  5. Interaction
  6. Feedback
  7. Visual Hierarchy
  8. Forms
  9. Accessibility

These tried-and-true rules are things you can lean on to design visually engaging and useful interfaces. They also make it easy to identify what needs to be changed and why.

And what’s more, you’ll have a method for building a solid body of UX and UI design knowledge that you can leverage time and again, in any app, site or system you ever create.

Designing for people: What they say they need, what they really need, and what they don’t know they need.

Nearly every product in existence started with a a voluminous laundry list of features and functions, all of which their creators insisted were equally important.

But these folks all share something very important in common: they’re all human beings. And we human beings all have a fundamental flaw: we often make very confident – but equally false – predictions about our future behavior.

So the features and functionality that will actually be most useful and most valuable — the ones that will increase user adoption or sales; the ones that will make or save money for the business behind the product— are almost never surfaced int the beginning of a project.

Why? Because all too often, the wrong questions are being asked and the traditional processes in use are broken. providing false clues about what’s worth doing and what value it has to all involved.

What’s more, people are always willing to tell you what they want in an app, a site or a system. But the truth is there’s a big difference between what they say they want and what they really need. And all too often, they don’t really know what they need.

As a designer, it’s your job to figure all that out. But how?

In this session I show attendees how to change that, along with how to tell the difference between what people say they need and what they actually need. And finally, I show then how to uncover the things people don’t know they need (but absolutely do).

Check my availability.

If you’d like to see if I’m available for your event, or would like to ask some questions before moving forward, please fill out this short form. Someone on my staff will respond within 24 hours.

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