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I am Alesha Arp, Senior UX Researcher, as an IC and as a leader of UX Research projects and teams, I deliver insights-driven impact to strategic initiatives, complex systems, and integrated processes by delivering high-caliber qualitative and quantitative research that informs decisions within start-up, growth, and mature enterprises. 


I work with cross-functional teams to solve complex business problems, turning challenges into opportunities and can do so with your team too. How might we work together to translate insights into opportunities? 

Photo credit Luke Chesser on Unsplash

PORTFOLIO
Increase Team Velocity & Impact without Increasing Headcount

Project: Hired to increase research team impact

Problem: Limited methodologies and program structure produced insulated findings

Solution: Assessed and leveled-up team skills to meet organization needs, overhauled research program

Methods: Co-working sessions, process optimization, skills workshops, cross-departmental collaboration

Impact: Increased customer engagement, research velocity, and insight impact. Reduced meetings, amplified collaboration. Resulted in product roadmap alignment, new product directions, and durable insights to impact present and future design and development

Scrabble game board displaying the word "Teamwork"  by Nick-Fewings-on-unsplash.jpg
A Note about Collaboration

Every Project: Collaboration with cross-functional and cross-departmental teammates is crucial for project success. Rather than reiterate this in each portfolio example, I emphasize it upfront. I work with product, design, and engineering (PDE) partners, involving them in research planning to address their timeline needs. They engage in discovery when possible, enriching perspectives. This collaboration extends through design, development, early release, general release, and post-launch stages. (Ask me how.)

Expanded Knowledge: My collaboration extends beyond project partners to include cross-departmental colleagues. I tap into their expertise and data, adapting to their workflows, integrating collective knowledge into product, service, and process design across the organization.

Symbiosis: These long-term relationships, nurtured through collaborative exchanges, deepen our collective comprehension of customer needs and ecosystems. I've presented about this rich collaboration and its impact at conferences like the Information Architecture Conference (formerly IAS), BigDesign (Dallas), World IA Day (multiple cities), and in video blogs on the Learners app (UX research education). Collaboration acts as a catalyst.

Strategic Contract to Inform the Organization’s Path Forward: 3 products, 3 user populations, 3 project teams, 3 distant goals, 3 approaching deadlines, 4 months to impact all. Continuous collaboration with project partners, managers, and c-suite leadership. 17 research studies, planned, recruited, conducted, analyzed, synthesized, delivered. All three product updates underway. Roadmap for 2024 defined. Direction & confidence attained.
Provide Insights to Inform Strategy Across 3 Products in 4 Months

Project: Glean insights to inform product directions for 3 digital products serving disparate market segments

Problem: Startup team falling short on milestones, lacked customer insight to move the needle and move projects forward

Solution: Conducted rapid evaluative and foundational research, scaled output using AI, streamlined reporting, delivered actionable insights

 

Methods: Concept validation, prototype usability testing, surveys, unmoderated perception and prioritization studies, in-depth-interviews, AI prompt writing & tuning, collaboration with product, design engineering and leadership teammates

Impact: Provided strategic direction for each product: (1) Digital access product - design enhancements resulted in exceeding usage goal by 16%. (2) Service support app - changed product focus to better align with service delivery, resulting in streamlined connection between digital and physical offerings. (3) Flagship product - discovered major adoption blockers, product undergoing major revision to overcome blockers, and meet changing market demand.

Foundational Discovery to Drive Revenue

Project: Discover what drives clients to select a service provider for a new service vertical

 

Problem: Newly acquired company was unaccustomed to serving the luxury market. Clients were entrenched with their preferred service providers 

Solution: Identified service "attach" drivers, collaborated with product, sales, and service delivery teams to determine how best to execute. Redesigned feedback instruments to drive actionable data into these teams.

Methods: In-depth interviews, multi-role workflow mapping, service gap analysis, design and content collaboration, data analysis and survey instrumentation

Impact: Increased revenue in the short-term with acquired provider, eventually resulted in a shift away from M&A to deliver via a digital service partner exchange, enabling luxury providers to opt-in to platform.

How Might Users Save Time, Effort, and Expense?

Project: Foundational discovery into saving time, effort and expense in service delivery through digital platform development.

Problem: Integrate existing technological process into an existing digital platform to incorporate a multi-variate service, engaging many parties, into a complex workflow. Digital product team needed to understand how to create platform efficiencies to drive improved service delivery and increased revenue.

Solution: Identified breakdowns in time, effort, and expense. Collaborated on potential solutions to each with attention to regulatory risk. Insights revealed challenges in integration efficiency, information architecture, and usage maturity. Proposed solutions for information transfer across multi-variate workflow. Identified disjointedness in integrated digital ecosystem.

Methods: Roundtable discussions, contextual observation & inquiry, workflow and information mapping

Impact: Created digital service tracking functionality, integrated into existing platform. Identified possible expansion of fledgling revenue stream - now in high growth mode. Built awareness around risk potential.  

Build a Better Roadmap

Project: Rapid growth, and accelerated timelines resulted in product divisions vying for resources, and project prioritization

Problem: In the "all-hands-on-deck" rush to deliver an end-to-end digital platform with supporting service-side functions, leadership needs to prioritize clients' most pressing needs first - but every need is pressing for the client

Solution: With a cross-functional team, map the client's journey, based on a Jobs to be Done framework. Build out that journey map, and then create a data model to inform product and service roadmap prioritization and planning 

Methods: Audit existing organizational knowledge. Iterate on journey map and JTBD list. Conduct validation studies with internal experts and clients between iterations. Conduct research and work with cross-functional SMEs to build out data model.

Impact: JTBD adopted throughout PDE team to align products to users' complex workflows. Platform and services adjusted to meet these needs. Designed a walk-the-platform training program for internal and external use based on the journey map. Company topped the market in key regions throughout the country the following year.

Bridge gaps across divisions through UXR and product design

Project: Design a platform that equally serves users in all segments of customer hierarchy and bring cross-functional teams to the design effort. Included product specific goals and organizational goals.

Problem: Flash-based product facing expiration. Serves only one segment of user population well. Some segments of user population not-at-all. Organization in a state of siloed-mistrust following restructuring.

Solution: In conjunction with product UX research, conducted internal discovery. By bridging gaps and bringing cross-functional teams into the discovery and design efforts, "Changed the way the company works" according to executive leaders. Designed a platform that serves all users well, and that teammates throughout organization can see their hand in creating and are excited to deliver and support.

Methods: Contextual interviews and observations, CX gap analysis, leadership workshops, surveys, quantitative analysis, qualitative discovery, insights analysis, experience design, process mapping, information architecture studies and design, product ecosystem discovery, stakeholder interviews

Impact: Cohesiveness throughout the organization grew from this collaboration and my product & service gap analysis project. When Covid closed schools in March 2020 this organization came together and rejiggered the product and launched it free to parents within a week of school shut-downs. Without these collaborative relationships these previously siloed teams would not have been able to respond so quickly.

Publication: A Union of Xs: Uniting User Experience and Customer Experience

Align Program Information Architecture to Data Structure and User Segment Hierarchy 

Project: Determine Information Architecture (IA) that aligns to data structure so that data is actionable across entire user segment hierarchy. 

Problem: Through UX research discovery we learned that legacy metrics were not actionable in the users' hierarchical model. When action was taken based on those metrics, it was often counterproductive for program efficacy. Additionally the IA needed to work across the structured hierarchy of user roles, but these did not roll up in a straight line. 

Solution: Using qualitative and quantitative insights I structured the IA to progressively disclose data to users in accordance to their relational hierarchy and according to their usage maturity. I thought we were on the right path when users started to speak about prototype data in their own individual context.  I then tested that against the data structure and it broke. We had just two weeks to pivot, test, and submit the IA. Went back to paper-prototyping and through 5 iterations in 10 days in 2 cities we collaboratively revised and met our deadline.

Methods: Information Architecture sorts (moderated and un-), prototype usability and data studies (paper and digital), collaboration with data science team, contextual usability studies across the country

Impact: Program efficacy soared, program reached 2.28 million students and 115,000 educators post-covid, math acheivement raised in all tested markets.

Gaming Environment with Wide Appeal

Project: Design a gaming environment to appeal to pre-kindergarten through middle-school students without deviating from rigorous educational focus and program efficacy.

Problem: Content across grade levels must have consistent environment to allow for learning differentiation. (Differentiation example: sixth grade student might play third grade game to fill a learning gap.)

Solution: Working in rapid design iterations with artists and animators we tested 56 environment designs and 21 character designs inside of a few weeks. Field test Wednesday, insights Thursday, iterate by Tuesday morning, design the test, repeat.

Methods: User interviews, surveys, quantitative scoring, insights analysis, design charrettes, stakeholder interviews, constructive critique

Impact: In nation wide beta launch students from kindergarten through grade 8 loved the new look and feel and characters

Publication: How User Feedback Helps Shape ST Math Updates

Redesign of Digital Platform

Project: Redesign platform for automotive technology leader. Begin with flagship product and create user-centered foundation for entire platform.

Problem: Current system was functionally very rich, but the out-of-date style met with push back as users’ expectations of user interfaces kept pace with responsive technologies.

Solution: Conducted extensive UX Research to discover users’ needs, expectations and preferences. Aligned these to development timelines and business goals.

Methods: User observation, information architecture (IA) evaluation and redesign, user interviews, workflow and process mapping and streamlining, empathic persona development, prototype usability testing, rapid design validation testing

Impact: Entire platform suite was redesigned, and launched to a fanfare of industry awards and massive market share gain. Company was eventually acquired leaving the founders and board members very happy.

Publication: UXmatters.com article July 2016

User Journey Study

Project: Research to open opportunities into a new specialty area for the firm.

Problem: The firm was presented with an RFP for a new project in a closely related discipline, but one they had not yet serviced. The goals were to answer the RFP, to be invited to interview and to win the project.

Solution: Reviewed prior related project work, drew parallels with relevant detail and made it to the next round. Demonstrated significant knowledge of this specialty discipline, common user needs and concerns, and how the firm’s prior project work could be applied to win the project.

Methods: Competitive analysis, secondary user-research, process mapping, on-site observation, design charrettes, presentation to project stakeholders

Impact: Project stakeholders connected to our user-centered focus and we won the project.

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