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Story

Michelle Zassenhaus

 

I have spent my career helping teams develop user-centered products with the most effective, forward-thinking methodologies, since 1998.

Here’s a little bit about my history.

1998. Out of college, I was fortunate to work for a tech consulting agency (Proxicom) that was rife with top talent and eager for more help, and I was immediately taken under the wings of some of the best creative minds in the field. As a visual designer, I learned best practices for conceptualizing, designing, and presenting what was then advertising and marketing based digital web content.

2000. Sent to Paris, France to art direct a redesign of Renault.fr. Rubbed elbows with peers from Silicon Valley (also stationed on the project), and broadened my understanding of both design and user experience.

2001-6. Moved to SF and ventured off as an independent Visual Designer and Flash Animator & Coder, working with star teams at agencies such as R/GA, Stone Yamashita, Hornell Anderson, and Ogilvy in San Francisco and New York.

2006. Began UX consulting for TD Ameritrade – where I learned to design products, not just advertisements, and to research and design for behavior. Here, I was designing for extremely complex behavior (active trading), not just sales – and thus was born my passion and talent for User Experience Design. It proved to be my true calling.

2009. Joined the startup scene, as the first designer at Knewton (an edu-tech adaptive learning company), and went on to lead a UX practice there, in addition to conceptualizing and architecting their entire product platform, which remains what they build upon today. During this time, I completed training in UX design at Cooper, the world-renowned UX consultancy started by Alan Cooper, the author of the tech classic The Inmates are Running the Asylum.

2011. Took a principal ux design job at TheLadders, where Jeff Gothelf was running the UX discipline and effectively using his team as a lab for his ground-breaking Lean UX methodology, after which he wrote his award-winning book. It was here that I learned how to work fluidly, quickly, with a multi-disciplinary team, and achieve real business outcomes.

2013. Became Senior Director of UX & Design at TheLadders and a member of the Executive Team. Oversaw the foray of that company into the mobile space, as well as a redesign and re-architecture of their web platform.

2014. Began zhaus.co, working independently.

Today, I leverage all of this experience through independent engagements with clients in all types of spaces, though mostly startups, as my methodology is most conducive to a company that builds products quickly, collaboratively, and with agile development methods.

I care a lot about the products I build; I want them to be effective for both the business and the end user, as well as beautiful and delightful. I am constantly learning and love the tech scene for the opportunity to do so.

I am also a professional photographer, both as a fine artist, and a contributor at Getty Images

I welcome conversations to explore if I'm the right match for your needs. Please reach out so we can chat!