Product Discovery Workshopping


  • NCR Corporation (Alpharetta, GA)
  • UX Architect


Problem: Several product teams at NCR wanted to either kickoff new designs on legacy product lines, or create completely new products from scratch. They brought in the CXD team for design guidance, but we insisted on this workshop leading our engagements with any new product design. I led the crafting of these workshop for several of these engagements based on design thinking workshops put on by our team for staff at NCR as a whole. These product discovery workshops were essentially applied design thinking sessions.


While every engagement changed based on workshop length, people engaged (e.g., dev, business stakeholders, product stakeholders, professional services associates), and needs of the project, they would use some of these elements.

  • Preworkshop research of users and stakeholders
  • Preworkshop survey of knowledge and expectations of participants
  • Summary of design thinking principles and workshop ground rules

  • Summary of any data collected about users, goals of project and workshop, and summary of the problem we are trying to address.
  • Reflection on products people love/hate and why
  • Focus on who the users is and persona creation

  • Effort to scope out customer journey from awareness to engagement to promoting system to others

  • Brainstorm solutions and voting on idea to move forward with
  • Task analysis of core workflows

  • Rapid sketching/exploration of solution space
  • Simple wireframe creation

  • Feedback and iteration

Conducted with:

  • Cinema and Venues team to explore core problems while simultaneously finding avenues to contribute to and benefit from sharing work with other NCR product teams.
  • CFC & CMC Hospitality teams for new engagements discussing how to bring these tools into the Cloud and enhance customer experience.
  • APEX Travel team to create a new business rule management tool across multiple channels for airlines.

  • Engage Hospitality team designing a new marketing suite for their product.

Solution & Outcomes: These workshops have been created to serve to purposes. Rapidly gather as much information about a project space as possible and to help make diverse product teams feel they have a unique impact on and insight into the design process. So far, both have been massively successful to engaging teams in health dialogue and keeping designs focused.


Timeline: 8 months

UX Methods Used: Task/Work Flow Analysis, Personas, Customer Journey, Sketching, Wireframing, Stakeholder Review, Brainstorming


NCR User Research & Usability


  • NCR Corporation (Alpharetta, GA)
  • Senior User Researcher


Problems: There were 2 main areas of research industry by product owners at NCR: better understand the people who use our software, what their needs and pain points are, and how they do their work AND validating our assumptions and designs that would be used by these people. I have done research for the Cinema, Venues, Hospitality, Travel, and Financial groups.

aloha-customer-journey.pngCustomer Journey Process of Aloha Hospitality onboarding and install process from awareness to first use. Multiple user profiles and use contexts (conversion, new site, new hw, and site upgrade) were considered.

alex_user_journey_v2.pngUser journey/scenario for site setup of Alex the IT Specialist persona for a new venue in comic book format.

User journey/scenario for site setup of Alex the IT Specialist persona for a new venue in comic book format.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 2.59.20 PM.pngAPEX Task Analysis done via Microsoft Planner (a Trello competitor). We needed a totally digital solution to do and share the task analysis since the design and product teams were completely distributed.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 2.57.04 PM.pngSample confluence page for the Cinema space that documented user research session–both site visits above and usability test sessions/results/reports below.

Techniques used:

  • Ethnographic observations of site operations and important processes.

  • Contextual inquiry into the jobs and tasks users had to accomplish.
  • Interviews with users about their roles and responsibilities and top-of-mind biggest pain points.
  • Paper prototypes of rough ideas (along with co-design to make improvements).
  • Digital prototype informal usability testing.
  • Remote & Local, Moderated usability testing of fully developed systems.
  • Mall intercept interviews and informal usability testing.

  • User modeling based on general user profile data researched over time.

  • Heuristic evaluation of legacy system usability.
  • Task analyses of workflows of all sorts of users from accountants, operations managers, IT techs, site managers and staff, and even consumers.

Research projects:

  • Interview consumers about Cinema movie-going experience through mall intercept.

  • Contextually inquire about film buying, ticket pricing, contract settlement, and vendor payment through Cinema HQ site visits.
  • Contextually inquire about/observe cash counting and deposits at venues.
  • Contextually inquire/engage in participant observation about inventory at venues by taking part in hosting a venue location for an event.
  • Informal usability testing scheduling, ticket management, and labor management with managers, and POS and labor clock in/out module with Cinema staff.
  • Usability test kiosk (in developers lab) to gain insight into what goes on in consumer’s heads as they make movie-going purchases.
  • Usability test fully developed Vision system to see how current system fits user needs and learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of NCR’s UI library.

  • Interview with Professional Services about maintaining Travel business rule systems through their APIs to inform a tool to help manage those rules.

  • Interview with Professional Services tasked with training users of hospitality back office setup.
  • Accessibility evaluations against WCAG for several hospitality products.
  • Site observation of how second makelines responsible for completing online orders in restaurants and heuristic evaluation of a digital kitchen system used for relaying such orders to staff to create an improved design for this line.

Solution & Outcomes: Three products have been brought nearly to market. Several more are under development (with one being shelved for the time being). All systems and insights (kiosk testing is a good example) have led to knowledge that has been reinvested into further system design. For a better sense of system success, would need to convince product of the important of tracking metrics being built into systems. So far, such arguments have been unsuccessful.


Timeline: >2 years

UX Methods Used: Ethnographic observation, Contextual inquiry, Interview, Prototyping, Usability testing, Heuristic Evaluation, Persona, Customer Journey, Task Analysis


Supply Chain Exchange Portal Usability Testing


  • Coca-Cola Company (Atlanta, GA)
  • Digital Strategy & UX Contractor
Coca-cola website


Problem: The company endeavored to update their many internal portals. One of these portals was the Supply Chain Exchange. I was tasked with creating a usability test to evaluate overall information architecture and page layout for this site.


  • Created set of 11 tasks testing links in the menu system, features on the web page, and ways to navigate the website (for the pages that were completed)

  • Asked follow up questions on how easy to navigate and how easy to scan/read the pages were, how closely the pages matched their expectations, and how much they liked the pages

  • Sessions ran approximately 20 minutes with 23 participants collecting

  • Analyzed qualitative for usability issues

  • Prioritized usability issues into groupings by cost and impact

Outcomes: These issues were addressed into the future scrums for Agile development. The positive reception of the interface allowed the project to move forward.


SCX.pngSCX Website prototype tested in usability test created by another contract design group.


Planning documents used in testing:

Test plan for SCX and myTMD website prototypes
Test recording sheet for myTMD website
myTMD tasks


SCX Usability Test Results


Timeline: 4 months

Research Methods Used: Usability Testing, Qualitative Analysis


Point Spring Website Redesign


  • Point Spring & Driveshaft Co. (Neville Island, PA)
  • Consultant
Point Spring & Driveshaft website


Problem: Corporate website needed update to connect with younger audiences, allowing the brand to compete more strongly in online environment. Social media and website were evaluated.


Corproate website includes company information and online eCommerce system. (Middle section of website is abridged.)



  • 3 primary competitors and the company website evaluated in depth

  • Custom framework for evaluation based on 11 articles and 6 books on best practices of UX design

  • Focused on aspects of functionality, navigation, data entry, credibility issues, writing quality, search, error tolerance and help, visual design, and accessibility

  • Rated on scale of 0 (major problems) to 4 (great shape) against above aspects

  • Commented on how website evaluated against framework

  • 6 more competitors were added to an overview of website functionality present on each site


  • Website must keep a more positive, inviting, welcoming, and sale-oriented tone

  • Website must promote its main benefits for its users and reframe everything in terms of users’ needs

  • Website must promote key sale items on home page
  • Improve scannability of webpages with shorter text blocks, bullet points, headers/subheaders
  • Visual redesign is needed promoting task-oriented imagery, sleek/professional lines, and layout that helps guide user

  • Open eCommerce site so anyone can view company inventory

  • eCommerce system should be focus of website

  • Add images and reformat information in eCommerce search results
  • Webforms, especially for checkout process, should guide user and make experience of using forms quick, accurate, clear, and streamlined

  • Add privacy policy and services page

Outcomes: Evaluation report submitted to client for feedback.

Related Documents:

Evaluation/Competitive Review Report

Social media Evaluation Report
(Based on failures of competitors to use social media effectively, Point decided to forgo social media for the time being. However, they have been convinced to monitor auto-created pages in the meanwhile.)


Dates: June 2014-July 2014

Research Methods Used: Heuristic Evaluation, Competitor Analysis, Content Analysis

My Roles: Research, Design

MegsRadio User Research


  • MegsRadio (Ithaca, NY)
  • Consultant


Problem: Develop further understanding about the music listening experience of user for personalized internet radio services such as MegsRadio.


Screenshot of the MEGS radio player, which promotes musical events, concerts, and events in the local area (each player is tied to a geographical region).



  • Created 158 item survey

  • Question groups included demographic and psychographic questions on music listening frequency/habits and software used, Big 5 Personality Inventory, and music listening activities (e.g., going to concerts, sharing music with friends, etc.)

  • Recruited 188 out of 1806 invited college-age students at Ithaca College to complete the survey

  • Analyzed data using regression analysis to see what factors predicted other factors


  • Found two groups of users: casual/social users and users who connect deeply with the music and everything about it.

  • First group seeks features to share and listen to their music socially, encourage social interaction, and set it and forget it streaming capability.

  • Uses software such as Pandora, iTunes Radio, YouTube, GrooveShark, and SoundCloud.

  • Second group looks for information about artists, influences, and connecting with others to exchange passion for music.

  • Uses software such as Band Camp, SoundCloud, GrooveShark, and

  • Computer recommendation was predicted by users who were extraverts and those seeking social harmony (agreeable people).

From a design point of view:

  • The “set-and-forget-it” type of service is over-saturated.

  • New designs need to connect with the way one of these two groups listen to music.

  • Social interaction should be openly supported and encouraged by all designs.

Outcomes: Research article was used in planning the future design of MEGS radio. Of particular interest was the relationship found between Openness (trying new things) and attending concerts, which is a feature supported by the software.

Related Documents:

Research Article/Report


Dates: May 2012-Dec 2013

Research Methods Used:Survey, Regression Analysis

My Roles: Research, Writing



  • Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
  • Ph.D. dissertation (primary researcher)


Problem: I wanted to learn about how people evolve in their usage of devices they use. I wanted to see how learning continues to happen even after participants figure out how to use the device.


  • People were given World of Warcraft, Photoshop, or an iPod Touch
  • I met with participants 3 times over the course of 2 months
  • During sessions, I interviewed and watched them use these software/devices
  • Participants recorded their learning experiences in an online journal outside interviews


  • Participants explore new aspects of an interface gradually once they have establish familiarity.
  • Learning is not planned out; they learn when and where it is most convenient, relying on social learning
  • Learning (not sticking to what one is familiar with) helps transform the way a user views an interface
  • Learning opens up new questions for exploration
  • People consolidate meaning to make new knowledge, occasionally facing conflicting information from past experience.


This framework inspired by research findings demonstrates aspects of an interface we can design for to support learning. They show a progression of areas a designer has increasingly indirect control over, including the design of A) the functions to fit needs, B) resources supporting a user learning process through shortcuts and workarounds, C) the suggested use for a device related to the way the artifact is actually used by users, D) an environment of possible actions supporting the skills needed to take advantage of those actions, E) the underlying meaning embedded in the device by the designer related to the meaning generated by the user in use, and finally F) the learning situation supporting the user experience.

Outcomes: This was my Ph.D. dissertation that was defended and accepted.

Related Documents:

Dissertation Document
Defense Presentation
Design Framework written based on findings


Dates: Jun 2007-Aug 2011

Research Methods Used: Ethnography, Experience Journals

My Roles: Research, Writing



  • Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
  • Ph.D. dissertation (primary researcher)


Problem: We wanted to compare various user research methods for analyzing community awareness and engagement with public displays.


This is an example image of the working system. The real system is no longer pulling data from Twitter due to changes in the API.

Click here to see an example with sample data.

Methods: We incorporated on-going logs of foot traffic, periodic surveys of users, and interviews after implementation.


This is an example of the display being actively used.

Findings: We learned while the displays did not directly improve the community awareness of events, there was an uptick in participation in community Twitter accounts. We also learned that the device we created was pleasant, faded into the background, and was informative.

Outcomes: The research led to one academic publication.

Related Documents:

Twitterspace Project Research Report (This is a transformation of this project from academic publication to research report).


Dates of Project: Jan 2007-Dec 2010

Research Methods Used: Survey, Interview, Observation, Data Logging

My Roles: Research, Design, Writing, Programming, Artistry

Device Ecology Mapper


  • Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
  • Ph.D. project (co-researcher)


Problem: We wanted to ensure the prototype we had created was easy to use, effective for representing their devices, and meaningful.


This is a paper prototype of the design. The prototype contained a few variations we could alternate on the fly.


This is a shot of the digital prototype. A version that does not record data still is available.

Click here to make your own device ecology map on the digital prototype.


  • Two usability tests for two versions of the prototype.
  • Paper prototype evaluation using qualitative methods.
  • Digital prototype, which was mixed implementing some quantitative and some qualitative metrics.


From paper prototype:

  • Need to change terminology in parts of the prototype
  • Need for a new system to search and select devices.

From digital prototype:

  • while the interface could be improved, participants liked the prototype in general
  • showed them a perspective on the devices they own that they did not have before.

Outcomes: This research led to a CHI poster as well as improvement of the prototype from the paper prototype to the digital prototype.

Related Documents:

Paper Prototype Usability Report
Digital Prototype Usability Report (Both reports are based on data collected for academic research)


Dates of Project: Jan 2008-Mar 2012

Research Methods Used: Usability Testing

My Roles: Research, Writing, Artistry, Programming, Design

About Me

Who am I?

My name is Will Ryan. I am a UX architect and user researcher. I have a Ph.D. in Informatics from Indiana University where I focused on human-centered design and cognitive science.I love working with technology particularly making it fun, engaging, and easier to learn. My goal is to understand both the technology and the users to ensure these users have meaningful and enjoyable experiences with their technology (whether in software or in hardware—for desktop, web, or mobile).

What do I do?

I specialize in information architecture, UX design, and research, but I have a background in developing both the front- and back-end of computer systems. I have spent years researching learning to use interactive technology, social media, entertainment technology and engagement with interactive technology, and information visualization with over 30 academic publications. I have designed, researched, or developed dozens of websites and about one dozen interactive applications in environments such as Flash, HTML & JQuery, ASP/PHP, and even for the desktop.

I am comfortable talking to users, other designers, artists, programmers, or business people. I love getting my hands “dirty” creating system sketches, planning work flows, writing personas, and creating prototypes. I love being a mouth-piece for user-centered philosophy and talking about UX topics. I have also taught on topics such as web and media design, visual design, project management, and strategic communication. I have worked in UX design and development number of different industries including higher education, consumer electronics, finance, heavy-duty trucking, social media, and food and beverage.

Where am I coming from?

I recently left a career in academics teaching and researching UX design/research and interactive media. I decided my passion was not in teaching these skills, although I do enjoy mentoring others, but I want to be involved in the user experience design process. I have spent the last half year consulting on interactive design projects.

Where do I want to go?

I envision myself leading others in the creation of great interactive software and media one day. I feel my experience in an academic environment has prepared me to lead. I love working with technology and making software that is meaningful for my users and I am excited in engaging in every way possible to achieve this goal. I would like to grow into a leadership position.