Steven Sundheim

Hi,

I'm an entrepreneur, designer and developer holding 14 years of leadership experience, and my passion is helping businesses build elegant, user-centered products.

Over the past 15 years I've been a part of successful startups and contributed to other organizations. In 2012, I successfully exited a profitable web hosting company I had co-founded in 2000. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with organizations all around the world as a consultant from my home base in beautiful Missoula, Montana.

"Steven has been an indispensable asset to our team. He has either been directly responsible for, or a major contributor to, the vast improvements we’ve enjoyed across our website, dashboard, and marketing. His understanding of good user experience and interface design and ability to truly listen to a client’s story are great skill sets we’ve tried to take full advantage of."

User Experience

A foundation for user-centered design

One of the biggest challenges in product development is understanding our users and discarding personal biases. By definition, we product leaders and designers are usually too close to our projects to truly advocate for the elusive "first time experience".

User experience design is a set of disciplines aimed at solving that problem, giving teams a shared empathy for the people who use our products, while empowering them to build products that are elegant and intuitive.

Through qualitative research, I build mental models that reveal users' motivations, behaviors, and philosophies.

I employ an exploratory process involving research, prototyping, and inclusive, transparent dialogue. Through recorded, non-leading interviews with research participants, my clients and I have gained a shared understanding of how our products fit into users' lives, how they talked about it, and how they felt about the tasks involved. Often, this research has lead to surprises that refined a marketing message or changed an entire business model.

The benefits of this exercise are profound in many ways:

Efficiency:

With the results of our research, we can easily prioritize the most impactful features, and confidently avoid wasting resources on projects with dubious value to the end user.

User-centered design:

By learning how users talk and think about their tasks, we can craft an intuitive experience that is immediately familiar.

A shared vision:

Often, design is unintentionally entrusted to a single contributor. A good experience strategy can create a culture where all willing stakeholders gain insight into their users' behaviors, as well as a voice to help shape the direction of the product long after the initial research is performed.

Portfolio

Examples of work, including design & development

Tech

Bringing designs to life

While working on a web project, it's not uncommon for me to have worked on a design concept in Photoshop, implemented a javascript-driven interactive widget, and edited a server-side function, all in a single day. Having a deep understanding of design, front-end development, and back-end coding allows me to communicate more effectively to dev teams, while making informed decisions at each stage of development.

Depending on budget and client goals, those choices are often made with the follwing goals in mind:

Responsiveness

A successful web experience depends more on "feel" than it does "look". I take great satisfaction from building web products that perform responsively and predictably, so users feel in control, empowered, and confident.

Search-engine optimized

An organization's business goals should permeate every aspect of project execution, and SEO often plays a prominent role in that mix.

Future-proof: Easy to upgrade and maintain, using modern best practices.

Design and development choices have to be made within the context of an organization's resources and capabilities, so a site can affordably be maintained over its lifespan.

Device-independence: Optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile browsers.

Responsive and adaptive design approaches allow us to deliver optimal experiences to a broad range of screen sizes without building separate sites or having to manage redundant web content.

The right tools for the job

See my resume below for more.

"Steven helped me re-invent the user experience of IdeaMensch after many many years of doing the same thing. Steven is a very strong designer and developer but what sets him apart is his vision to create a great user experience."



My Resume

Experience & Education

UX, Dev & Marketing Consultant
2012 - Present, Missoula, MT

Helped companies develop successful product experiences and marketing strategies. Conducted qualitative research, including non-leading interviews and testing with participants. Built mental models and information architecture based on research findings. Created branding, visual and print designs. Developed responsive, optimized web products using the latest technologies and best practices.

Co-Founder, Director of Product Development, Modwest, Inc.
2000-2012, Missoula, MT

Grew profitable company to 14 employees with thousands of customers in 43 countries. Primarily responsible for strategic leadership and product management. Led development and design of modwest.com, control panel, and other customer-facing tools. Designed and managed marketing campaigns, including messaging, graphic design, and analytics. Compiled financial projections, accurately predicting long term trends over the life of the company. Sold Modwest in 2012.

Co-Founder, Grupthink Inc.
2006-2012, Missoula, MT

Designed and managed Grupthink product through all stages of development, including initial product requirements, prototyping, testing, launch, and development. Led team of 3 software developers in an agile-inspired style. Managed all other business and marketing efforts, including branding, messaging, community management, sales, product evangelism, making successful pitches to clients and funding groups. Presented to MIT Innovation Lab in 2007 and forged a two-year partnership with General Mills in 2008. Sold Grupthink in 2013.

UI Designer, Wam!Net Inc. and Dantis, Inc.
2000-2001, Missoula, MT

Worked with marketing and software teams to improve usability, set standards, and design and implement web based software based on product requirements.

Web Designer, Internet Connect Services
1999-2000 Missoula, MT

Worked with over 30 clients to design and build attractive, usable websites for businesses and non-profit organizations.

B.A. Geography, University of Montana
1999 Missoula, MT

Double emphasis: Cartography and Town Planning. Upper level statistics and graduate-level coursework.

  • Geography Faculty Award, 1999
  • Internship: Big Sky Brewing, Market Analysis, 1998
  • Internship: City of Hamilton Planning Dept., 1998
  • 3.9 GPA

"Working with Steven has been fantastic! He has been a great at guiding me though the process and explaining every step along the way. I always knew where we are at and what's next. Great job Steven!"

Let's Connect

Steven Sundheim


(406) 529-7253