"User Experience," "Interaction Design," "Information Architecture,"  "Product Design" and "Service Design" have all been labels or variations of the umbrella discipline of Human-Centered Design, my field for over 20 years. I've been lucky enough to work for, and closely with, some visionaries early in my career—some at Apple Computer, a participatory design research pioneer Dr. Elizabeth B.N. Sanders, and plain language pioneer Dr. Karen Schriver. My learnings from them have been crucial to my process.

My primary focus is on the psychology, complexity and systems thinking part of the field. One point I often stress to those new to the field is that the Human-Centered Design approach is not just putting a visual face on function. We're wired to give most of our attention to interactions and stories, not just to one of our senses— something important to keep in mind for both engagement and learning. 

I'm the right person for:

  • complex experience challenges

  • empathy-based strategy (research-informed, persona and scenario-driven)

  • content crafting + visioning (bringing core story-telling skills to user experience and design strategy)

  • integrating UX design with instructional design (training, e-Learning, job aids, help) - for very complex applications, it's best to have an integrated use/ learning strategy

  • HCD and strategy process consulting 

My process begins with end users and stakeholders—analyzing behavior, needs, tasks, content, mindset, and more—and results in intuitive structures, refined through iteration and testing, to support goals revealed through strategy work. I do this by researching users, dissecting complex subject matter and tasks, gathering input from experts and stakeholders, and designing within a holistic human experience that takes into consideration all touch points and impacts, not just the digital.

Focus &​
Design for complex systems


I am especially interested in researching and designing for complex systems as they intersect with social and environmental problems (often, "wicked problems"). Digitally, I'm platform-agnostic, with experience designing not just for web and mobile, but desktop, gestural, and physical interfaces. However, my experience is not restricted to the digital: I've worked on policy challenges, physical/ industrial design challenges, and more.


Learning experience design


Supported by my roots in instructional design at Apple and work as a filmmaker, I view the learning of systems as a critical component of most complex design work. I'm skilled in creating educational software, documentation, and training media.


Social and affective design


I've enjoyed the challenges of analyzing complex emotional and communication needs while working on products such as social networking platforms, human resources projects, and children's educational software. 

Content + writing


I offer content development as well as proposal and grant-writing services. I hold an M.A. in Professional Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.

Team direction, management, coaching


I've brought together and managed teams to create complex digital products, videos and films. 


UNICEF, The Restart Project, Center for Civic Media at MIT, Bloomberg, Toyota, iQuanti, Jobbatical, Planet OS, TechSoup Global, Baron Software, Wireless Generation, Zintro, AOL, Museum of the City of New York, Red Rover, Cardscan, Authentec, LeapFrog, Williams-Sonoma, Goldmine, Blue Shield, Palm, AT&T, the Marine Mammal Center, IONA Dance Company, Becton Dickinson, Caringwise, OnTimeRX, Compaq, Franklin Park Zoo, UltimateTV, Nickelodeon, Netpop, Charles Schwab, Discover Financial Services, Lending Tree, EGG UK, Internet Shopping Network, Financial Engines, ShoreTel Networks, Serena Software, DoveBid, Edify. Agencies: USWeb/CKS (marchFIRST), TBWA/ Chiat/ Day, Studio Analogous, Arcatec, Rocket Communications, ATTIK, Addis, Euro RSCG (Havas), Y&R Interactive, Fitch, 

Magnani Caruso Dutton, DesignWorks, Uplift, 

Explorics, and Clear Ink.  


As a writer and content strategist, I've also worked with a variety of brands such as Apple, Iomega, 3M, Compaq, Glidden, Texas Instruments, Little Earth Productions, Sipix, and Askey. 


Clients have noted:

I'm speedy. I often get things done twice as quickly as expected. 

I make quick sense of the fuzzy - and without a lot of hand-holding.

I'm a "connector" - like a welcoming bridge between disciplines and ideas.

Global experience
Other systems-oriented design disciplines I've studied


Passionate about systems thinking as an analysis tool, as well as the intersection of environmental and human challenges, I've also formally studied the disciplines of transition design, biomimicry, and permaculture. Doing so has helped deepen my understanding of what makes systems work well naturally, and how design and research can play a critical role.

Please enquire if you're looking for something specific you don't see in my online samples, such as: DISCOVERY + STRATEGY - proposals • stakeholder interviews and goals mapping • heuristic analyses • interviews and focus groups • contextual inquiries • ethnographic research • workshops • user journey mapping • personas • user stories/ use cases • research protocols • user diaries • surveys DESIGN - requirements documents • conceptual + interaction design • storyboards • application flows • IA site maps • content inventories and hierarchies • wireframes • rapid prototypes • videos • specifications • copywriting • instructional design deliverables 


Originally from rural Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia), I'm an explorer who has also lived in Maryland, Ohio, the Silicon Valley, NYC, Boston, and Florida. I've worked with international clients and on many products used globally. And I've spent what amounts to years abroad between Europe, Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Getting to know people, cultures, and places around the world has helped to keep my perspective fresh and grounded in the diversity of lived human experience.

Passion project

I'm on the advisory board of
Footprints to Wings, a participatory design and democracy game to help break the gridlock around climate change conversations, so we can win the race to zero carbon.


© 2020 by Susan Stuart,
Stuart Design Research


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