Design for Context, LLC is a consulting firm specializing in usability and user experience design. We have a strong track record of turning concepts and recommendations into user interface designs that work, drawing on our knowledge of user interface design patterns and a strong foundation in human-computer interaction. Our expertise in the design of interactive applications and search user interfaces is one of our key strengths. Our projects range from quick expert reviews to large, multi-year transactional systems analysis and design projects. We build long-term relationships with our clients and scale our services to meet our clients’ needs. Many of our client relationships span multiple projects over several years, because they recognize we are committed to their ongoing success. Founded by Lisa Battle in 2006, Design for Context is a small, woman-owned business based in Columbia, Maryland (near Washington, DC and Baltimore).
Lisa Battle, Principal
Lisa Battle has over 15 years of experience in the design of applications, web sites and information resources. Her work with project teams includes clarifying user needs and business goals, and designing user interface solutions that improve user experience and productivity. Lisa has led the design of many interactive applications supporting business functions such as accounts payable, claims processing, learning management, and project management, and has consulted on the design of large-scale informational web sites and intranets. She is also an expert on accessibility, which makes products and services easier to use for people with disabilities.
Lisa is a frequent speaker at conferences, and has presented on topics including accessibility, usability, requirements engineering, strategic design, and integrating accessibility and usability into the software development lifecycle. She was the president of the DC Metro Chapter of the Usability Professionals’ Association (formerly UPA, now UXPA) for four years. She created the annual User Focus conference in Washington, DC, and was its conference chair for four years. She is also a member of the international committee defining the UXPA’s Usability Body of Knowledge (www.usabilitybok.org). She has developed and taught courses on usability best practices, defined standards and guidelines for clients, and mentored project teams on usability methods. Lisa has a master’s degree in Cognitive Psychology/Human Factors, which focuses on how people think, make decisions, and interact with information and tools.
Duane Degler, Principal
Duane Degler designs complex applications and web sites, backed by 25 years consulting experience in knowledge management and business performance. He has led software projects for commercial and government clients in the US and Europe — his specialty areas include designing for large-scale search capabilities and semantic-driven interactive applications.
Along with his consulting work, Duane speaks regularly at professional conferences, curates DesignForSemanticWeb.com, has co-organized the Semantic Web User Interaction workshop series, and is the strategy and technology advisor to the UXPA’s Usability Body of Knowledge project. He has a B.Sc. in Media Communications and an M.Sc. in Organizational Communications, with a focus on the human change impacts arising from technology adoption.
Lynn Baumeister has over 20 years of experience in the computer science field and has been working for the past 11 years specifically in the area of usability. She is an expert in user research, user-centered design, and information architecture, as well as the federal requirements governing the accessibility of Web sites for people with disabilities. Her work draws on both analytic and quantitative methods all aimed at the creation of usable software and Web sites.
Lynn has experience working with clients, large and small, from the government, health care, education, and non-profit sectors, as well as private sector clients from fields including insurance, manufacturing, publishing, information technology, and human resources. She has a master’s degree from the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and has taught in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.
Laura Chessman is a user-centered design and strategy professional with experience in both industry and government settings. While leading efforts to assess and improve the usability of systems ranging from complex software for researchers and engineers to informational systems for broad audiences, Laura has also worked within organizations to integrate user-centered design methodologies into software development processes for long term successes in improving system usability.
Laura has led multiple design and usability projects for clients such as the National Cancer Institute and American Red Cross, and has managed the design and usability efforts for multiple complex software products in private industry. Laura has considerable experience designing for and assessing the usability of complex systems used in highly specialized fields such as science and engineering. Laura has served as vice president of the DC Metro Chapter of the Usability Professionals’ Association (formerly UPA, now UXPA). She has a M.S. in Information Science from the University of North Carolina.
Jade Davis has over 11 years of experience providing comprehensive communications services to support business objectives and user needs. She specializes in making technology and process changes successful through thoughtful, integrated communications strategies and plans. In her roles as an in-house resource and external advisor, Jade has managed needs analysis, communications strategy, and deliverable development for hundreds of infrastructure, application, and process implementations. Jade works extensively with business leaders, technical teams, and others to understand stakeholder needs and develop communications plans to effectively meet those needs. She has supported numerous user-centered design projects and advocates for the power and strategic impact of this approach.
Jade holds a B.A. in Philosophy and English from the University of California, Davis. She is also a member of the International Association of Business Communicators.
Mark has been involved in design and interactive project management for more than 17 years. In addition to project management, Mark brings a wealth of experience in general business management, web development and user experience to any project. Because of his broad range of skills, he is able to quickly build a very full and clear view of a project, from high-level strategy and concepts to detailed tasks, and is able to communicate clearly with stakeholders of all levels as well as designers and developers.
Mark’s project history includes building up and managing a successful ecommerce operation for an entertainment company and project management for numerous non-profit, association, and commercial clients. He has also worked as a web programmer and user experience architect on commercial websites and applications, ranging from small member organization websites to booking engines for international hotel brands. Mark is an active member of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) and the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). He holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Kenyon College, and certificates in graphic design and web programming from the Corcoran School of Art and the University of Illinois’ O’Reilly School of Technology.
Rob Fay has been involved in the full lifecycle of software and web development projects for over 12 years, and is passionate about the holistic customer experience. Rob strives to meet customer needs by leveraging user-centered design methodologies to research and design solutions that are intuitive and pleasing to stakeholders.
Rob has worked with government, state, and commercial organizations, including the National Institutes of Health, the University of Maryland, and Blackboard, and has many years of experience supporting the fields of health and education. A strategic thinker and tactical doer, Rob has been active in regional and national user experience organizations for many years, including the Information Architecture Institute, the User Experience Professional Association (UXPA), the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST). Rob has a M.I.M. in Information Management from the University of Maryland’s iSchool and a M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Maryland.
Lesley Humphreys has over 7 years of experience in information architecture, user experience design, and content strategy. She provides strategic advice to help clients develop business solutions. She led the team that won the WebAward and the ADDY Award for the design of the Baltimore Museum of Art web site. Recent projects include the design of an interactive tool for interior designers to visualize decorative glass in various settings, a rich media lead-generation campaign web site for a financial industry client, and a mobile campaign site for an online bank.
Lesley is the co-founder and organizer of Baltimore Parlay, a user experience and information architecture salon and networking group. She has a graduate certificate in Information Design from the University of Baltimore, a M.A. in Museum Studies from Cooperstown Graduate Program, and a B.A. in Anthropology from Middlebury College.
Melanie Huston has over eight years of experience in user research, information architecture, and interactive system design. Melanie is committed to balancing requirements gathered from users, clients, and developers to ensure robust architecture and interfaces. She employs a variety of traditional and emerging user research techniques when developing user-centered designs. Her research interests include information ecosystems, document search and retrieval, and data analysis and visualization.
Melanie has worked with government and non-profit clients including the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. Melanie has served on the board of the Usability Professionals’ Association (formerly UPA, now UXPA) DC Metro Chapter and spoken on content management and user research at the chapter’s User Focus conference. Melanie holds a B.A. in psychology from Grinnell College and an M.S. in information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Janice has more than 24 years of experience in the field of user research, user-centered design and information architecture for software and web applications, websites, and intranets. She is dedicated to helping clients fully understand their users’ needs and expectations and to design solutions that are easy to use, efficient and satisfying. Her expertise spans across travel, financial services, education, utilities, healthcare and ecommerce industries. Throughout various points of her career, Janice has been a manager/director, practitioner, and principal of her own consulting firm.
One of Janice’s proudest accomplishments is founding the Usability Professionals’ Association (formerly UPA, now UXPA) in 1991 after recognizing the need for a practical-oriented organization dedicated to enhancing usability professionals’ skills and success. She served as President and on the Board of Directors through 1999. Janice also co-founded, with Ginny Redish, the STC Professional Interest Committee on Usability. Janice holds a M.S. in Technical Communications, has completed graduate work in Human Computer Interaction and is a frequent speaker at numerous professional conferences. Janice is co-author, with Carol Righi, of User-Centered Design Stories: Real-World UCD Case Studies (Morgan Kaufmann, 2007).
Scott is a usability expert and interaction designer with over 15 years of experience. He has worked with government, non-profits, and private industry, including the National Institutes of Health, Freddie Mac, Reed-Elsevier, the Library of Congress, and many others. Scott’s interests include complex search interfaces, rich interaction technologies, and more recently integrating web analytics and user-centered design, where analytics identify the behaviors and usability evaluation informs the design direction.
In addition to design, Scott has managed UI and web projects, conducted extensive user research efforts, and provided graphic design and implementation services for his designs. Scott has actively supported the professional community in the DC area for many years — he founded the Usability Special Interest Group for the Washington, DC chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and has also served as an officer for the DC Metro Chapter of the Usability Professionals’ Association (formerly UPA, now UXPA). He holds a M.S. degree in Psychology from University of Rochester.
Anita Salem is a human systems researcher who looks at the interaction between people, organizations, and technology. With a goal of designing systems that are useful, desirable, and easy to use, she works with practitioners and organizations to improve the adoption of new processes and technologies. Anita consults with organizations on innovative ways to manage the design of new systems. Using qualitative research methods, business needs analysis, and participatory design techniques, she partners with organizations to help them manage change and develop a more effective and efficient workforce.
Anita has a M.S. in Technical Communication and is a frequent presenter on topics related to human systems research. She is principal consultant at Salem Systems.
Rachel Sengers is an interaction designer with over 13 years of experience designing Web-based applications and sites for a variety of clients in the communications and financial industries, the federal government, and other sectors. She helps clients to clarify project goals, plans how users will move through a site and accomplish their tasks, specifies the details of the user interface, and then helps monitors development to ensure project requirements are implemented.
Rachel has experience with all stages of the user-centered design process, including user research, gathering requirements, prototyping, visual design, user testing, accessibility, and production. Her background includes many years as a Design Director, guiding a team of designers and developers at a Web design company. She is an active volunteer with the Washington, DC Metro Chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) and its annual User Focus conference. She has a graduate certificate in Information Design from the University of Baltimore, a B.S. in Advertising Design and a B.S. in East Asian Studies from University of Maryland, College Park.
Thomas Vander Wal
Thomas Vander Wal has over 23 years of professional experience in information systems, internet, mobile, and web design and development. His specialized expertise focuses on enterprise social software, search systems, and information management. Thomas has been building, designing, and managing social software since 1996, bringing a unique and cutting edge perspective to dynamic information organization. He is committed to developing innovative means to create efficient interactions between those providing the information and media and the people who want, need, and use it.
Thomas speaks, mentors, and leads workshops regarding a broad array of subjects including: Emergent information structures (folksonomy), social web (Web 2.0), social intranet (enterprise 2.0 and social business), web/mobile development and design, user experience, information management, information use and reuse, and knowledge management. Thomas collaborated on the “Connected Company” book from O’Reilly. Thomas has a master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Communication from Saint Mary’s College of California.