Who am I?

Gary Elsbernd

Sometimes I get an idea that won't leave me alone. Whether these ideas are about design patterns, technical development or implementation, archery or science fiction, the elsblog is where I put my ideas and hopefully share them with the world.

I am a passionate advocate for user centered design with more than 30 years of experience. In my current role as Principle Experience Designer for Sun Life (US) based out of the Kansas City office, I am particularly interested in usability and performance centered design in web and mobile applications. 

The design principles and processes I follow came from working with many organizations, with varying levels of established design principles.

Design Principles

Show deep and empathetic understanding of our customer needs, goals and contexts.  Think about the experience beyond screens into their full experience of our organization.


Design Process

Double diamond design process, including discover, define, develop and delivery.

I follow the double diamond design process to design the right thing and to design the thing right. Here are a few points of emphasis in my approach:

  1. Know your users inside and out.  Focus on performance context and attitudes as well as their behavior and attitudes.  
  2. Fail fast! Whether it's a concept, prototype or beta product, get something in front of users or stakeholders quick so you can learn and align.
  3. Scale, don't skip UX activities. Maybe you don't have time for the ideal discovery and synthesis activities with authentic users, but it's critical to fit some research into the amount of time given to accomplish a task.  Something is better than nothing.
  4. Do as little as required to get to shared understanding.  Don't get stuck researching endlessly, or let perfect become the enemy of good enough.  You should always plan to validate and refine as your understanding of your clients and their tasks evolves.
  5. Invest more time in discovery and validation to mitigate risk.  The cost of bad assumptions is always higher than upfront research.
  6. Rely on design systems and style guides to reduce design times.  The consistency gives users confidence and helps cement your brand.
  7. Design is never done - After the design is accepted, designers must stay involved in handoff to the engineers and a partner in scaled agile development, to ensure the design remains desirable, feasible and viable.  Once in production, designers must start testing all over again to uncover performance hurdles, bugs and design changes to continually improve.