Meet Mara: “Life-long Learner” & Invaluable Member of TBG’s Digital Strategy & User Experience Team
As a keen critical thinker with a desire to make the world a better place, Mara is an invaluable member of TBG’s Digital Strategy & User Experience team. She champions user-centered design methodologies with a particular passion for finding creative ways to integrate user feedback cycles—early and often—into the UX design process using a technique known as “guerilla testing.” This type of informal, formative user testing informs UX decisions and helps Mara (and our clients!) develop empathy for the people who will actually use a website through gaining a deeper understanding of their behaviors, constraints, mental models, contexts and interrelationships.
Even while keeping users at the forefront of UX decisions, Mara understands that the primary aim of developing digital experiences is to meet the objectives and priorities set by our clients.
Mara often works on large, complicated projects which benefit from her ability to break down complex problems and large quantities of (sometimes disparate or seemingly conflicting) information to develop solutions and articulate them in easy-to-understand ways for our clients. Her current projects at TBG include work on sites for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Kauffman Foundation and Penn Medicine.
She is a self-proclaimed “life-long learner” with a thirst for new information. She appreciates new challenges and opportunities to collaborate with and learn from our talented and multidisciplinary team.
“Architecting effective website experiences is like a juggling act… Solving UX problems holistically requires you to balance diverse user needs, business objectives, operational realities and technical capabilities. You have to be flexible and willing to adjust and respond to new inputs and ever-changing best practices. You have to be willing to challenge yourself and take risks in order to innovate.”
Outside of her work at TBG, Mara’s skillset extends to performance, including hula hooping, juggling, and other related performing arts. She is always ready to lend a helping hand to organize festivals, performances, and productions. This cooperative nature and willingness to go the extra mile surface in much of her work at TBG and can make all the difference in large projects with many moving parts.
“I particularly love when my expectations are blown away and my assumptions are challenged. User research is not just crucial to the UX design process, but also allows me to see first-hand how my work can make people’s lives better.”
Mara began her career as a writer/editor for the Smithsonian Institution during a time when publications were moving away from print and into digital formats and was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to take a lead role in this effort for the organization. This introduction to UX changed the entire course of her professional career. She pored over UX books and research papers, attended workshops and other meet ups, and ultimately fell in love with the field, which turned out to be a perfect fit for her combination of formal training in communications theory and a brief stint in graphic design.
TBG (The Berndt Group) is an award-winning, national digital agency focused on meaningful digital transformations that combine leading user experience, implementation of platforms and automation, improved digital operations, and the adoption of best practices around personalization and user engagement. We are a leading Sitecore Gold partner, with 10+ years of experience developing major digital ecosystems on Sitecore. Our well-known clients span a wide range of sectors, with a high concentration in healthcare, financial services, and direct-to-consumer markets.