Contact About Writing & Case Studies What I do

Senior design & UX for ambitious software teams

I help companies design better, ship faster, and get traction.


What I do  ·  Writing & Case Studies  ·  About  ·  Contact

My clients are usually software teams with a big goal. They need to build an incredible product fast, but they're hitting the limits of what they can design in-house.

I'm both a product designer and design coach. My first priority is helping my clients build something their customers love; a close second is teaching them to design better on their own.

As design coach

  • Pair with designers to solve problems together
  • Teach modern design tools (Sketch, Invision, etc)
  • Get designers "unstuck" when they've hit a wall
  • Share helpful visual design tricks
  • Give detailed, constructive design feedback
  • Help designers communicate with stakeholders
  • Set a high bar for design quality
  • Build creative confidence

Hands-on design work

  • Rapid prototyping
  • Intuitive UI interactions
  • Minimal, compelling visual design
  • High-level user tasks & flows
  • Branding & logo work
  • Finding and fixing usability problems
  • Code for front-end web (Javascript, React, HTML/CSS)

Design process

  • Write design briefs with clear goals
  • Run inclusive design kickoffs
  • Help teams go broad with lightweight concepts
  • Prioritize ideas based on user impact
  • Set up effective design feedback loops
  • Test features with real users before shipping
  • Build systems of reusable UI components

Product strategy

  • Help founders distill their product vision
  • Visually share that vision with their team
  • Validate product value with the market
  • Get to the root of what motivates customers
  • Reduce feature complexity before engineering starts
  • Create designer hiring strategies and candidate evaluation

Writing & Case Studies

"You're a natural, kid"—How to spot design talent

The four least-teachable traits of great designers

Design
Leadership

The books I recommend to designers

What to read when you’re learning (or struggling with) design

Design

Using design to make hard life choices

Step one: literally put your priorities in order

Design

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Watch

Designing a prototype in 15m

A rapid run-through of user journey mapping and minimal UI design

UX design for startups

A glimpse at lean product design methods

Piano hacking and creative flow

Music tools for intuitive improvisation


Just for fun

I like making complex systems simple, adding delightful details, and supporting self-directed learning.

About

In 2012, I was the first employee of YC-backed FarmLogs. We started as three people on a couch, raised $35MM, grew to 70 people, and onboarded ⅓ of American farmers on our platform.

I led our design, built our brand, and architected our UX from the ground up. As we grew, I became Director of Product Design, hiring a high-performing design team and using design to drive product strategy.

Later, I co-created a design course at the University of Michigan. Our goal was to build practical design skills in our students, who went on to work at Google and other high-growth tech companies.

Before FarmLogs, I created my own Bachelors of Philosophy degree in Human-Computer Interaction. I've also founded local design organizations and served as a startup mentor at TechStars Mobility and other accelerators.

Testimonials

Sam is a UX god. We were blown away by how quickly he broke down our complex goals into a simple, beautiful, intuitive design. Not only did we launch an awesome product on time, but the work went way above and beyond our expectations. He taught us a ton about building great products, and he laid the foundation for our engineers to keep building great designs. Our only regret is that we didn't book more of his time!

Jason Corso, CEO, and Brian Moore, CTO
Co-founders, Voxel51 A.I. Platform

Within 5 minutes of Sam starting his talk, I texted my team: 'Damn, Sam is good.' All 250 students in the audience were hooked. His session was a fantastic mix of humor and entertainment, technical information, and emotional vulnerability that gives students the confidence to take a shot... I can't recommend Sam highly enough for anyone interested in creating early-stage products, gathering feedback from potential users, or just learning tips for making it through the emotional grind of startup life.

Jeff Sorensen
Co-Founder of optiMize; Director for Social Innovation at University of Michigan LSA

I had the chance to work with Sam as a hiring manager as I was recruiting and hiring Designers for his team at FarmLogs. He brought a level of deep thinking and reflection that made him a true hiring partner in every sense. He was always thinking strategically about how we could improve our recruiting process and candidate experience. He was also open to experimenting and trying new ways of finding and attracting talent. At the same time, he made a conscious effort to solicit feedback and iteratively improve his own interviewing and recruiting skills. Any team would be lucky to have him and I'd love the opportunity to work with Sam again in the future.

Lauren Davaloz
People Success Specialist, Aha!

I began reflecting on how the hell I got here, going from a scared college freshman to shipping several features at Google this summer & currently working on a high profile Microsoft AI project. Despite being an UMSI UX student, it was ENTR 390 that taught me the most about what a career in UX might look like. It was the most well taught, high functioning and practical course I've taken at UMich. My future projects & portfolio write-ups that would later get me these dream internships were all modeled after the one I made for 390. I know how much work you three put in this course, and I want to convey how grateful I am for it. And beyond the basic design process and projects, you three also put an emphasis on ethics, inclusivity and accessibility in design that is so often overlooked in most courses.

Dania Abdulhamid
Designer; Microsoft, Google

I worked with Sam while he consulting for a startup where I was an intern. And I don't think it's too dramatic to say that his coaching alone made my internship feel worthwhile. He was a great coach and mentor, guiding me through different phases of the design process. But even more than helping me build up my skills, he'd chat with me about what design is and how it plays out in industry and in life. As industry tools come and go, it's this type of high-level thinking that I know will serve me well for a lifetime. Thank you Sam!!

Linde Huang
Designer

Sam is an incredibly talented product designer and coach. He was instrumental in helping FarmLogs design a product and brand that quickly became recognized for our ease of use, igniting years of rapid growth for our company.

Jesse Vollmar
Co-Founder & CEO, FarmLogs

Contact

Whether your a founder, product leader, designer, student, or just curious about design—I'd love to hear from you.

sam@directedworks.com

Additional case studies and work samples available on request. Email for rates and availability.