Process Overview

Most of my first four years after Tufts were spent helping fix healthcare with athenahealth, working across a variety of projects including new client onboarding, a site-wide redesign, and athenaCollector - an award-winning practice management product.

My work for athena is private, but I've provided some insight into my process at athena below.

UX @ athena

When I joined the UX team in the summer of 2012, we were relatively small compared to where the team is today. Over the course of the past four years the team has grown from around 25 UXers to over 90. I say "UXers" because the UX team at athena is a multidisciplinary group spanning research, copy, and design. As a designer, I was responsible for working with our project leads to determine and understand business goals, working on sketches and visionary documents to communicate our goals, producing wireframes and prototypes for usability testing, and working with our developers to implement the final design spec.


Business Goals

athena has a fairly robust planning process that helps guide major business goals for each team. My job in UX was to work with our product leads to transform the broad goals into actionable and testable project goals for our team, while also mapping the business goals to user goals. In UX we represented the voice of the user and sought to clarify how the business and user goals could align.

During the information gathering stage, we often interviewed other athenistas familiar with a particular product or problem area. We also organized a lot of client site visits where we could observe clients who were familiar with the problems were trying to solve.

North Star

With long term projects, I spent a lot of time up front during the visioning stage. We started using a "north star" planning process based on some of the user-centered design principles espoused by consultancies like IDEO and Google Ventures' design team. While not too different from the traditional UCD process, the "North Star" concept provided a solid model for communicating the process to leadership.

Typically I would host visioning workshops featuring activities like Crazy 8's to gather concepts and ideas from leadership and the project team, while also making sure both parties were in alignment. I would take the workshop sketches and create a deck or storyboard to share back with the team, making sure we had agreement on direction.


With a north star vision in hand, our team could quickly move on to actually designing a solution to some of our goals. We'd start working our way towards achieving that final vision, often with a focus on delivering usable, functional aspects of the product early on.

At this stage I worked heavily with our product owners and other designers (if the project team was large enough) to produce multiple sketchy solutions to the current problems. This meant we could quickly explore a variety of broad ideas without spending significant resources crafting the perfect final design. I also involved our developers throughout this process to make sure that they 1) had a better understanding of what was coming up in future sprints and 2) to get any implementation and engineering feedback as soon as possible.

Usability Testing

A huge benefit to working on such a large, talented UX team at athena was the access to regular usability testing. athena has a large base of engaged clients who were willing to participate in usability tests, informational interviews, and site visits frequently.

We employed a variety of usability testing methods, and many involved fairly complex prototypes created in Axure. Some of the prototypes I created were interactive with variables, dynamic pages, and animations. I'd try to achieve the right amount of believability without spending too much time on the first iterations that may likely change going forward. Often we would leave usability tests with solid changes in terms of usability or product features and would iterate for either a second round or for release.

Beta → Final Release

Depending on the size of the project and the complexity of it's impact on clients, we would choose whether to conduct a beta test with a small number of clients or release it publicly to all of athenaNet. One of the beautiful aspects of being a cloud-based solution was that we could turn new features on for a new subset of clients. As a designer on the UX team, I would often visit or speak with beta users to gather feedback. Once the new features met our acceptance criteria, they'd move to rollout for all clients.


athena had a robust workplace environment and while there I took advantage of it to participate in a variety of side projects.

Leading Boulder Teams

The UX team at athena had a number of internal boulder teams working to improve things like onboarding, cohesiveness, and education. For two years I led the team focused on education and helped create a set of onboarding video content, a wiki page for learning UX skills beyond your specific role, and compiling internal presentations on athena and UX knowledge.


A few members of the UX team represented all of R&D during tours of the office. These tours consisted of visits from other offices, potential clients, and business partners. As a tour guide, I explained our R&D process, reviewed what user experience is, and highlighted some of the benefits of our process as described above.


athenaU offers a variety of training programs to new hires and management. One of the presentations involved presenting R&D to more senior new hires. I regularly presented an interactive case study alongside dev architects and product management senior managers and directors.

Volunteer Teaching

athena supported a team of us teaching with Citizen Schools, a volunteer after school program at schools throughout Boston. I worked with three other athenistas to teach a design-thinking course to the Trotter School in Dorchester. We taught a 5th grade class through projects like an egg drop. I had tons of fun working with these kids and learned so much in the process - it was surprising how many parallels there were between working with the 5th graders and building out a UX curriculum for our boulder team!