Laura Cochran is a driven and detail-oriented professional specializing in user research, experience design, usability and digital storytelling. Making the world a better place through technology, storytelling and delightful experiences is where her passion lies and people are at the center of it all.
Currently, she is completing a tour of duty with the United States Digital Service, a startup at The White House, using design and technology to deliver better services to the American people.
Before joining USDS, she was part of the Condé Nast platform team, leading the user experience for editorial tools. These tools were used by Condé Nast Traveler, GQ, Vanity Fair, Epicurious, Vogue, Glamour, among others, to create and share stories with the world.
She moved to NYC from D.C. to join Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome, where her team focused on national health, technology, entertainment and travel verticals. Prior to joining Digital First Media, she designed research strategies and developed prototypes for new ways to engage audiences outside of Gannett’s core. She is also a washingtonpost.com refugee.
Her expertise includes:
- Informing experience design decisions by becoming an expert on the situation in which a user will engage with our products;
- Informing experience design decisions by becoming an expert on the expectations of the user;
- Informing user experience decisions by becoming an expert on what makes a product useful, desirable, valuable, accessible, credible, findable and usable;
- Determining learnability of new features and the strategy for introducing them.
Helping product owners move from making assumptions about users to making informed decisions about usability and features users want is her strength. Experience design is a not a one and done process. We should be constantly learning about how users are engaging with our products, responding to their behaviors and evolving.
How can we do this?
Business, design, content and development teams must collaborate to do:
- Ongoing ethnographic research, learning how new technologies are impacting how we live;
- Ongoing usability studies on product suite;
- Reports on latest technology and usability trends.
So that product owners can make continuous improvements based on the above findings. We must be proactive about how we can improve our products to take advantage of new behaviors and technologies.
Laura’s career was influenced and shaped by her early career experiences serving as a liaison between reporters, editors, designers, and multimedia producers at the Commercial Appeal and washingtonpost.com. For breaking news, as well as enterprise and investigative reporting, she worked closely with every department, determining which channel was best suited for each situation. What she found was missing in these conversations was the user’s voice.
She is a native of the D.C. area and received her undergraduate degree in journalism from James Madison University. After graduation, she spent a couple of years in Memphis getting her master’s degree in journalism administration, which is where she got her start in online journalism at The Commercial Appeal. When she’s not at work, she’s doing anything that involves being outside.
- The Delve Masterclass, Prototyping Methods, New York, NY
- Every Prototype is a Question Workshop at The New School, New York, NY
- How Might We Engineer Changes in News Collaboration at SND, Washington, DC
- Climate Change and Design Thinking: A Targeted Approach to a Complex Issue, Chicago, IL
- Copilot dCamp, New York, NY
- ONA dCamp, Washington, DC
- Design Thinking 101 at Mozfest, London
I worked with Laura on a number of key projects at Gannett. She's always the first to jump in the game and start making things happen. Laura is an extremely talented content manager with a "digital mind." One of the key qualities that separates her from others is her insatiable desire to gather as much intelligence as possible about the consumer and use those insights to guide the new product development projects she manages. Laura's talent for design, knowledge of the digital space, overall energy and passion for understanding the consumer first is why she's been so successful and will continue to have a great career moving forward.Reggie Murphy, UX Research Manager at Facebook
Laura is a very hard-working person who can very effectively manage multiple projects at once. Laura is an expert in the digital world, a regular speaker at many of the best conferences and a respected leader in the Online News Association. Laura is multi-skilled: Business strategy, user experience, development and content production are all in her wheel-house. But best about Laura, whatever she doesn't know she will quickly figure out. I have been impressed that whenever Laura was plugged into a project outside of her experience set, she researched the field quickly to get to mastery so that she could lead within her teams. Laura was a great addition to any team I have been part of.Grey Montgomery, Chief Content Officer at Winsight, LLC
Laura and I came together from very different worlds - some might even say church and state - she from journalism and I from sales and marketing. To be successful on our project, we had to figure out out how to collaborate, learn from each other and build something new. Laura immediately stepped up into a leadership role on the team thoughtfully teaching our team about design of the product with a keen focus on our end users. It was my first true collaboration between an editorial and business team and it taught me skills that I have used in every job since. I think of all that I learned from Laura often - she was a thoughtful leader, teacher, innovator and product owner.Katie Emery, Director, Global Marketing Solutions at The Washington Post