Ellen Isaacs is a user experience designer and an ethnographer. She uses a rapid video-based ethnography approach to gain an understanding of human practices with an eye toward identifying needs that can be met with technology. She then designs technology to meet those needs and works with engineers to iteratively build, test, and revise the designs, using a variety of user evaluations methods. She discusses this highly iterative and collaborative approach in her book, “Designing From Both Sides of the Screen,” which she co-wrote with software engineer Alan Walendowski.
Ellen spent the early part of her career designing and studying technology to support remote communication and collaboration, e-commerce, and social interaction in virtual worlds. She published extensively in human-computer interaction journals and received seven patents for inventions related to this work. After working in research labs, product groups, and startups, she formed her own interaction design consulting company and worked on a range of products, including online training, a collaboration suite, and financial tools.
Since joining PARC as a principal scientist, Ellen has led the user experience component of a wide range of projects, including mobile interaction, urban parking, healthcare (specifically nursing), and information visualization. She has played a key role in taking several of these projects from open-ended observations to technology concept to design mockups to prototype development and user testing – keeping user needs at the center throughout the process.
Ellen was trained as a cognitive psychologist and a writer, receiving a BS in psychology and semiotics from Brown University, and a PhD in cognitive psychology from Stanford University, where she studied the collaborative process of language use in conversation. She also attended intensive courses in photography at Rocky Mountain School of Photography.
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in the news view all
Q&A: Meet Ellen Isaacs, Corporate Ethnographer at PARC
12 April 2013 | Healthbiz Decoded
The Power of Observation
1 February 2013 | The Parking Professional
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29 January 2013 | Los Angeles Times
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Front End of Innovation 2013
6 May 2013 | Boston, MA
TEDxBroadway: Industry Leaders Envision the Future of Broadway
28 January 2013 | New York, NY