Timothy McKenna

Timothy McKenna

Carlisle, Pennsylvania Director of UX | NIC's PA Interactive Joined over 4 years ago

  • 29 stories
  • 127 comments
  • 189 upvotes
  • Posted to Copywriter Recommendations, Aug 16, 2018

    I've worked with Chelsea for years, she's a great copywriter and editor. https://www.linkedin.com/in/chelseahessmoore/

    0 points
  • Posted to Do you have a framework to document your product design decisions you take during the course of a project?, in reply to Jed Lehmann , Aug 08, 2018

    That's pretty similar to what our one product team does as well.

    1 point
  • Posted to What do we think of Fiverr?, in reply to anthony thomas , Aug 08, 2018

    I think that is a bit of stretch to equate this inquiry as random. God knows we see enough posts similar to this like "What do you think of InVision Studio?" or "What do you think of X companies' rebranding?"

    In my own regards to Fiverr.....It's not even a blip on my radar.....Fiverr and 99Designs never come up in conversations with any of the designers I work with or know in my area.

    3 points
  • Posted to I ran the design team for FedLoan Servicing & American Education Services. AMA, in reply to Nick Dominguez , Aug 02, 2018

    No problemo. I realize it was a wall of text....so I apologize if your eyes are bleeding :)

    1 point
  • Posted to I ran the design team for FedLoan Servicing & American Education Services. AMA, in reply to Nick Dominguez , Aug 02, 2018

    Great question and not as vague as you might think.

    The Income Driven Repayments Plans (IDR) are actually mandated by Dept. of Education's Federal Student Aid. FedLoan Servicing is one of the four "TIVAs" or Title 4 Servicers that Dept. of Education contracts with to service student loans. The other TIVA's include Navient, Great Lakes and Nelnet (but Great Lakes and Nelnet are merging...so there will be only 3 soon). Servicing a student loan is not the same as getting your loan...FedLoan acts on behalf of Dept. of Education to collect the payments....your loans are originated (given to you) by the federal government. All of this is pertinent to the IDR plans...

    When the Dept. of Education's Federal Student Aid (or FSA) gives a mandate...they broadly say "Hey, you're all going to do this now....figure it out....we'll tell if you're doing it wrong or not." They give us the plan and we are tasked with implementing it with the borrowers interest in the fore-front of our minds. Most people don't know which IDR plan is the best fit for them. So the design team created a lot of user stories and customer journey maps to discover a happy path and discover tangents and potential scenarios where certain borrowers might have a complicated financial situation to solve for. Once we have created the user stories and journey maps, we would test our ideas by creating mockups of screens and we would use usertesting.com for remote testing. Why remote testing? We can dial in the population of testers quite easily for various ethnographic needs. We learned a lot from remote testing and currently, the qualitative data from those tests are being synthesized to help redesign the current IDR plan page

    As far as weighing success for the borrower vs client (FSA)....that can be tricky. In the broadest definition....by implementing a mandate, we've succeeded in the eyes of the government. From a customer standpoint, just having the service doesn't mean jack, so our goal is to create easy to follow instructions and resources to educate and empower the borrower as much as possible in their decision making process. We technically can't tell borrowers which plan is best for them, that would be considered financial advising and that is big no-no in the industry. We view success for the customer when they have successfully applied for an IDR plan that best suits their financial situation and they are making on time payments without requesting any additional Deferment/Forbearance (aka stopping payment for a while).

    Could we do things better? Absolutely.

    Things the Customer Experience Department (includes design, development, product management, insights and analytics, requirements, marketing, and communications) are doing include more in person testing, more discovery sprints (purely focused on understanding the borrower's journey) to make actionable design decisions, and moving to a lean UX methodology to build, test, deliver, iterate in a much faster time frame. They are also pushing back with FSA on mandates that aren't very borrower focused (In fact, when FedLoan pushes back...the other TIVA's follow suit to show a united front...sometimes it works...sometimes it doesn't).

    So a long winded answer, but definitely a great question.

    3 points
  • Posted to I ran the design team for FedLoan Servicing & American Education Services. AMA, in reply to Brennan Smith , Aug 01, 2018

    Good questions....The problem stems from poor change requests for updating the website.

    1) it's not on a content management system 2) There is a lot of inline styling 3) The focus has always been on the borrower portal vs the public facing website.

    To address these issues, the CX Department that was created is working on a brand new AES website that will be built on Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) platform and will utilize the new design system and responsive grid that my team developed.

    The design team has prioritized the redesign of both PHEAA and AES's public facing sites to being in August.

    1 point
  • Posted to Does user research make products more successful?, Aug 01, 2018

    Are you familiar with Google Scholar? I would start there to search for academic research? Depending on the market and audience, customer research can take many forms.

    As far as some companies that take customer research and embed it throughout their process check out IDEO, Leap Research, and some this article on customer ressearch from Interaction Design Foundation.

    0 points
  • Posted to Choosing the best code editor as a web developer in 2018 (Which one is your favorite and why?), Jul 30, 2018

    I've been a big fan of Atom since it was released, but my current job uses VS Code and it's easy to fall in love with. So right now, it's a toss up between the two for favorites. At my last gig...they insisted that UltraEdit was the best editor out there next to Dreamweaver....it was one of many headaches I had because of that place....

    1 point
  • Posted to MyTapWater.org: Tap Water Data by ZIP Code, Jul 27, 2018

    Great.....I'm never brewing beer again unless it's all bottled distilled water.....

    0 points
  • Posted to What’s your idea of Work-Life Balance?, Jul 25, 2018

    In the last few years, I would say I have struck a good balance between my work and my personal life. Burnout was debilitating for me, which began when I was running AIGA Central PA (at which point work consumed 90% of my life) back in 2015. Over the next 14 months, I was in a really bad spot suffering for major bouts of depression and anxiety, questioning why the hell I was in design and technology.

    Over time, I began put more hard stops in my work life and prioritized family time and personal time for hobbies. I got back into playing drums, I began to brew beer with increasing success, and most importantly....I developed a new level of relationship with my fiance (now wife). Now I still am a voracious consumer of information about design and technology, but by branching out a bit from what I would call my narrow mindset has allowed me to become a better designer, if not just a more well rounded person. This is purely based on my situation....so I don't intend to tell anyone "This worked for me, it'll work for you"

    One thing I would add to this work-life balance discussion though is the importance of sleep....In my mind this should be work-life-sleep balance. You literally can't do squat without good sleep....something that I actively avoided in years past because I was always trying to optimize my time, and hustle my way through life. I am 99% certain that lack of sleep was a major issue in crumbling of my work-life balance in those days.

    So again, this is my situation....this has worked for me, but I do implore you to get better sleep.

    4 points
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