Design Thinking starts with empathy

Just finished presenting for the Human Centered Design & Engineering Master's program at the University of Washington and happy to have that under my belt!

I was asked to present at the Friday lecture series where industry experts are invited to speak and the public is open to attend. The people who speak at this event tend to be, in my mind, at the top of their game on a particular topic. Strong UX thinkers from Tableau, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc have all taken the stage, so as you can imagine, the opportunity was a complete honor and I am humbled by the experience. Not too long ago I was in the audience and furiously taking notes and connecting the dots with my previous experience, with what I was learning in school, and what I was learning from others in the industry. To be on the other side of that energy is completely surreal, and I am proud to be in the space.

For this talk, I centered my presentation around Design Thinking, where the first step is to focus on empathy, or nothing else can take place. I used a case study from building Avvo Advisor to frame the topic.

I broke out the case study in six areas:

- Empathize

- Define

- Ideate

- Prototype

- Test

- Implement

Afterward I was asked a LOT of questions by the audience, and it confirmed I was speaking to something relevant. There were a lot of questions about how to get buy-in for the work and how we knew when we were "right". How did we measure success.

​It was really energizing to have such a good turnout, but what I loved reflecting back on was how many folks from my own team at Avvo attended. I can't wait until next week to connect with them to ask what they thought, how they felt about the reaction of the room, what I can improve on, etc. All the things!

I'm impressed to know that the UW recorded the entire presentation, and it's available to view on their site at

The slides are at

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