• Sean Ardley • sean.ardley@gmail.com • 831-419-8956

    My name is Sean Ardley.

    I like to figure out how others think.

    I am a user researcher, currently with a large enterprise software platform company. I graduated from Stanford with a degree in Product Design. I have extensive experience in enterprise user research, user experience research and design, running a bicycle factory, and operating a needfinding consultancy. I design and code my own deliverables, such as those seen here.


    In my spare time, I like meeting people who are different from me, tinkering with cloud-based ExpressJS servers and corresponding Android apps, training/paling around/mountain biking with my German Shepherd, cycling, bikepacking, astronomy, and ultra-length endurance cycling events. I aspire to one day fully focus my listening skills and analytical mind on helping people meet their needs.


    Below are several interesting projects that I did as a consultant and for an employer. To view more recent enterprise software work, please get in touch with me at sean.ardley@gmail.com.

  • Perforce Git research - 2015/16

    Perforce, the maker of renowned centralized version control software (VCS), was losing market share to distributed version control software (DVCS). My task was to figure out why, and ensure that our attempts to compete hit the right notes. Results were applied to the world's first Git Narrow-clone UI, now in use by hundreds of enterprises and thousands of users, and an enterprise-grade git server (currently in beta).

    Perforce, makers of a centralized VCS system, had been losing market share to distributed VCS for years. The nominal difference is obvious, but no one knew with any confidence why DVCS was preferred.

    I recruited Git users from meetups and my network, and went into their offices to look at the structure and use of their Git repos and ask them about their versioning practices. And would you believe, "distributed" is not the key difference.

    "I love having an always-available central repository with the latest work" - Patreon's resident Git expert, rocking our world on why he loves his DVCS

    Iterating through interviews and analysis, it became abundantly clear that the real value adds are twofold: A separation of doing work vs collaborating on work (not having to worry about the collaborative aspect for hours or days), and keeping control of administrative functions, access to code etc., inside your product group.

    With this knowledge Perforce was able to ensure that they did not destroy either of these key value propositions while creating our Git gui and server.

  • DanKam color vision augmentation app - 2014

    Research aimed at improving retention for an iOS app that reprocesses the camera's input to help colorblind people with their abnormal color needs, (strictly) by figuring out how to actually help colorblind people.

    This is Dan. Dan had made an app that reprocessed phone camera input to alter colors in real time, so that colorblind folks could differentiate colors. But it had a 1-month dropoff rate around 99%. Dan retained me to research how the technology could be more helpful to colorblind people.

    This is Gen. Gen was one of about 30 colorblind people surveyed and 10 interviewed for the project. As with about 70% of colorblind people, Gen performed poorly on tasks in school and was relieved to find out that she had a good reason. Her colorblindness is only significant when shopping for clothes or produce.

    Research indicated that the vast majority of colorblind people, who found out about their colorblindness in the way Gen did, do not have the colorblind-shame depicted in pop culture. Further, they do not need to perform color-related tasks beyond selecting a shirt. This led to some design principles: It's fine to expose the app regularly, and reprocessing is insufficient... identifying colors should be the goal.

    Prototypes to illustrate these principles included a lockscreen app and a more conventional app, which darken all but the dominant central color area on the screen and textually indicate the color in that area. Sadly, due to Dan's founding of WhiteOps Ad fraud detection, implementation has been shelved indefinitely.

  • IdeaScale - 2014

    Research around the value proposition of an online-suggestion-box-company's core product, as well as design of a mobile app.

    Ideascale prided itself as a key path for innovation, by aggregating and ranking innovative ideas. I was retained to do R&D for a mobile app, and started by researching what users like about the product.

    Chris is an engagement manager at a national real estate title insurance provider. He was Ideascale's main contact there, but he's notably not involved with innovation. Something's amiss.

    Interviews and contextual inquiry at the local branch office, followed by further conversations with Chris and other Ideascale managers in other organizations, led to the finding that Ideascale was not used for innovation at all in the enterprise. It's a tool to make employees feel listened to.

    The app design included many features to provide the ideators with validation, making it function optimally as a way for companies to make their employees feel they have a route to upward management.

    Naturally these features included many notifications of actions happening around a user's idea(s), so it also came with a way to reduce the notification load in the rare event that it was being installed by a member of a public innovation drive. Aimed at the 80%, but still servicing the 20%.

  • CollegeGuava college application tracking app - 2014

    Researched high school students for an app that facilitates college application process tracking, as training for their founder and primary developer. Led to insights on trusted sources and appropriate marketing channels for immigrant high school students.

    Research consisted of several sessions on a high school campus, observing and interviewing high-potential, underperforming immigrant youth (with administrators' and teachers' consent).

    Education with the founder included both field work and analysis. Results indicated that users should use peer or mentor channels to discover the app, and to build trust in the information presented in it.

    Training inlcuded user experience flows and general usability heuristics.

    Example mocks to illustrate how the candidate design principles could be used. Information in the app is "verified" by peers

    Peers can share content across calendars easily with their friends, but all content is initially created uploaded to the server and factually verified by CollegeGuava before getting in the app.