Ryan Nee
Product design leader

For the past 15 years, I have helped teams design human-centered digital experiences.

I am looking to join a talented product team creating software that people find useful, usable, and desirable.

Things I believe:


People should be at the center of the work

Great product teams have a steadfast focus on the people they serve — without getting too distracted by internal politics, industry jargon, or flashy technologies. I am inspired by Liz Sanders’ assertion that “useful, usable, and desirable” products stem from layering research techniques. Great product teams take time to observe and interview people, and perhaps even invite them into the design process in a hands-on way.


Great products help people accomplish their goals

In ways big and small, people’s goals are often unmet by existing products. I am inspired by Alan Cooper’s notion of Goal-directed Design and Clayton Christensen’s theory of Jobs to be Done. Both frameworks urge teams to focus on people’s needs and motivations by learning about their underlying goals. As Christensen argues, “Customers don’t buy a product, they hire products to do a job.”


Designers should love the content, not just the form

In a good design, form and content complement each other, forming a mutually-beneficial relationship. My former team had a loose No Lorem Ipsum policy, a content-centric mentality that I grew to love. I am inspired by Beatrice Warde’s profound 1930 essay, The Crystal Goblet, and Michael Bierut’s wise quip: “The greatest thing about design is that it is almost always about something else.”


High-performing teams admit they might be wrong

Designing products is not a science, but great product teams approach their work with the same curiosity and deferral of judgment of a scientist. Talent, intuition, and experience are important — but so is curiosity, grit, and a willingness to hypothesize and test. With that in mind, I believe that teams are well-served by quickly prototyping options and alternatives, rather than endlessly refining one thing.

Featured Work          

LUMA Workplace

Our team created an acclaimed online platform to help people in any industry or job role to use Human-Centered Design methods every day.

LUMA Institute is known for its in-person human-centered design workshops and handbook of methods called Innovating for People. The workshops were much-loved and selling rapidly, but struggled to scale, limiting the potential impact that LUMA could make in the world. We asked: How might we leverage technology to empower more than 16 people at a time?

Our small and scrappy team rapidly stood up a web-based version of our printed handbook, then iteratively transformed it into a complete digital product over five years. Eventually, dozens of Fortune 500 companies purchased enterprise-wide subscriptions for LUMA Workplace, and the product consistently earned a world-class Net Promoter Score of more than 80.

Senior Designer at LUMA Institute
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
June 2015–January 2020

Interface and interaction design, product strategy, product naming and branding, qualitative research and testing, engineering planning, video production, curriculum design, and writing.

︎  I will present a detailed case study of LUMA Workplace during an interview.

Layered City

I imagined, designed, coded, and launched an iPhone app that curates the internet’s best content about cities in Europe.

After leaving LUMA Institute in January 2020, I set out on a wild journey to do something I’ve never done before: create an entire mobile app from start to finish.

Making the most of a lockdown during the global pandemic, I taught myself the basics of Swift programming and set out to work. It was a humbling process with a mixture of success and heartache along the way. Making an entire app on my own gave me new levels of respect for specialists: programmers, marketers, content strategists, sales teams, and business leaders. In December 2020, I finally launched Layered City in the App Store. Take a look at the app’s website or download it on the App Store.

Founder of Layered City
January 2020–Present

Product strategy, sketching and ideation, branding, interface and interaction design, content creation, programming, and marketing

︎  I will present a light-weight case study of Layered City during an interview.

Leadership at
Markit Digital

I led a team of  designers to create interactive experiences, data visualizations, and mobile apps for the global financial industry.

I was one of four Creative Directors leading the 50-person design team at Markit Digital. I directly managed a subset of those designers to solve problems for clients, ranging from fixing minor interface issues to reshaping how financial advisors might work with customers over the next decade. Our day-to-day work blurred into many facets of the design field—design research, interaction design, data visualization, visual design, or front-end development—without creating firm distinctions between roles. Designers on my team had daily contact with our clients, and help shape, grow, and maintain long-term relationships.

Creative Director (and several other roles)
Boulder, Colorado

Hiring, mentorship, team training, culture-building, project sizing and pricing, new business development, human-centered design advocacy. 

︎  During an interview, I can explain detail about my experience as a leader and manager.