Michelle Zassenhaus

Michelle Zassenhaus is the UX & Design Director at TheLadders, where she leads teams through user-centered product development. In this lean agile environment, sketching, prototyping, and user testing comprise most of her hands-on work. Spearheading user research, her team keeps the company in touch with its members' needs, expectations, and reactions to new features and products.
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Recent Posts

Part 3: What “Lean UX” looks like - a story of product development

Posted by Michelle Zassenhaus

July 11, 2013 @ 11:06 AM

The third part in a multi-part series about the "Lean UX" approach to product development at TheLadders.

We created the app because it was clear our customers needed an on-the-go solution for their job search. What was unclear was exactly how we could best deliver value to them. We had some hypotheses about that and did some quick tests – both on the jobseeker and the recruiter sides. These tests provided essential direction and built empathy around the specific beliefs, goals and challenges of the users our product was serving. But how to move forward?

Start with scenarios

Armed with a better understanding of users’ needs, it was time to take a stab at what the product would look like. This moment can be paralyzing, but I like to conquer it by designing scenarios. This means imagining what each screen would look like during a single complete session in which a typical job seeker uses the app. This approach helps you understand how each part of the system needs to be threaded together to create a simple experience from the user’s point of view.  Once the broad strokes are established, I can circle back and consider the implications this has for the overall system, and what special conditions and states need to be considered.

Topics: #TheLaddersLife, TheLadders Dev

Part 2: What “Lean UX” looks like - a story of product development

Posted by Michelle Zassenhaus

May 24, 2013 @ 07:46 AM

The second part in a multi-part series about the "Lean UX" approach to product development at TheLadders.

Last time we met, I introduced the concept of "Lean UX", and discussed how we're putting it to work in the development of our mobile application. We got our arms around the core hypotheses, and did some quick tests with users. Next, we wanted to see how our concepts would shake out with recruiters - because after all, we can't make job seekers happy if they aren't hearing from the people who have the jobs.

The Meaning of "Team" (and why it's essential to Lean UX)

Before going further, please allow me a brief interlude on what it means to be a "team" at TheLadders. We work in a loose agile/scrum approach (more buzzwords!) - which essentially means that cross-functional teams take on a problem statement and solve them independently. While the size of the teams vary, they often follow this configuration: development team (3-5 engineers including Q/A), a scrum master (or tech lead), a product owner, a UX designer, and a Visual Designer. (Additionally, copywriters work across teams.) The scrum master, product owner and UX designer form a sort of trifecta of team leadership, but in general, the entire team collaborates around creating solutions.

Topics: #TheLaddersLife, TheLadders Dev

Part 1: What “Lean UX” looks like - a story of product development

Posted by Michelle Zassenhaus

May 01, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

The first part in a multi-part series about the "Lean UX" approach to product development at TheLadders.

There are lots of buzz words flying around in product development these days, but what they are and how they are applied can be hard to grasp. I'd like to pull the curtain back and share how we've been applying “Lean UX” in product development at TheLadders.

My team has been working on an iPhone application for our job seekers, which is due to launch in the coming months. As Lead User Experience Designer on the project, I have collaborated closely with my team, applying a "Lean UX" approach - which TheLadders is known for, thanks to the great work of Jeff Gothelf and Will Evans, my predecessors here. In this multi-part series, I'll share with you how we got through the early, foggy stages of product definition quickly; how we built out the guts of our app while constantly testing with users; and a cutting-edge long-term study we're running with real users for the last two months of development, while we refine the last set of features.

Topics: #TheLaddersLife, TheLadders Dev