I've worked on a wide range of usability projects, from early-stage ethnographic field studies of work environments, user needs, and market requirements to "traditional" usability studies of competing interface designs. Some recent examples of these projects include:

  • A multinational non-profit organization was designing an online community for social entrepreneurs, hoping to ease the problems faced by these people as they identify markets, find collaborators and investments, and launch their companies. I carried out a set of structured walkthroughs of an early version of their design with typical users of the ultimate site, investigating how well the design and its implementation would meet the goals of the site and the organization behind it. I produced a report summarizing the users' experiences with the site, and, based on those experiences, produced a set of design recommendations that addressed the problems identified by the study. The revised site has launched and has attracted over three hundred organizations from around the world in its first two months of operation.
  • A startup was developing a social network that was based on an innovative approach to representing people and their interests, but that also raised significant privacy issues. I worked with the client to define a clear set of tasks for a study that would test their users' understanding of and interaction with the site, and their grasp of the privacy implications of their activity and presence on the site. I then recruited appropriate participants and ran the study. The result was a report that identified problem areas in the site's design, captured how the site did (and didn't) meet the privacy needs of its users, and showed how a revised design would be not just more usable and do a better job of handling the privacy issues, but would also meet the company's business goals more effectively.
  • A mobile phone company wanted to carry out a long-term study of how a soon-to-be-released phone would be accepted and used by its target audience. We worked with them to characterize that market in concrete ways, recruited people to take part in the study, and managed the study over its six-month duration. We carried out two sets of interviews with the participants — midway through the study and at its conclusion — and summarized these interviews in reports to the company that characterized not just the reactions of the participants to the phones, but also how the participants were ultimately using the phones as media and communication devices, and how these uses corresponded to the company's expectations.
You'll note that, in all of these cases, the basic usability findings of the studies were accompanied by design recommendations. My background in design and system development puts me in a good position to do this: I understand the connection between design and usability, and I can tell whether a design recommendation will require a simple tweak or a major architectural overhaul. As a result, I can structure my recommendations to meet the needs of the client and the product at hand, and be certain that the client will get maximum value from the study.