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

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 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

"Within 5 minutes of Sam starting his talk, I texted my team: 'Damn, Sam is good.' 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, optiMize; Director for Social Innovation at University of Michigan LSA

Contact

If you're curious about improving your design or product work, get in touch.

sam@directedworks.com

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