WHITNEY HESS runs a user experience strategy consultancy based in New York City. She believes empathy builds empires.
Whitney helps organizations integrate UX practices into their product development process. As the lead user experience strategist for The King Center Imaging Project – the digitization of more than 1 million documents and photos from Martin Luther King Jr.'s personal family archive, which launched on MLK Day in 2012 – she facilitated a product strategy workshop with key stakeholders, conducted user research and developed personas to define their target users, and prioritized features to create a product roadmap for the living memorial's new website. When Boxee hired Whitney to help make the beta version of its media center application more mainstream-friendly, she reconceived its navigation, introduced search across content sources, and integrated social features in a less intrusive way.
Her most robust research project to date was for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's website redesign, the result of which was a set of eight design personas to communicate attitudes, motivations and behaviors of the institution's key constituents, including teachers, students, family historians, academics, activists, donors and general visitors. With a passion for elevating educational experiences, Whitney conducted user research and usability testing for Reading Plus, a technology-based program that helps elementary and secondary school students improve their silent reading skills.
Her previous clients also include Seamless, NeedFeed, Scientific American, The New York Times, Teach for America, House Party, Allstate, Claritin, Tropicana, and EarthLink. Most notably, she helped to conceive, design, and test an innovative card search tool for American Express and is named as a co-inventor on its U.S. patent.
Whitney received a Master in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and a BA in Professional Writing and HCI, both from Carnegie Mellon University. She writes about improving the human experience on her blog, Pleasure and Pain .