My name is Dr. Carmen Branje. I am a husband, father, designer, educator, researcher and communicator. I hold degrees in Computer Science, Management Science and Industrial Engineering from Ryerson University and The University of Toronto. I have experience designing for banks, call centers, e-commerce retailers and many other types of organizations.
As a user experience designer, I bring many well-developed skills to the table. I have a unique combination of design, technology, communication and research skills that help me discover and solve problems. My background in research helps me in my quest for empathy and understanding of the users and environments I am designing for. My background in computer science and technology allows me to have a perspective on interface design and technology that is rarely seen. Like an architect that has physically built buildings, I understand the technology well and can therefore produce great looking, functioning and cost-effective designs. This combination also gives me the ability to create fully functional prototypes. My experience teaching university students has given me the communication skills to communicate my learnings and designs to stakeholders.
Below you will find a highlight reel of the some of the more interesting projects I've worked on in the last 15 years as a researcher, developer and designer.
I started at Loblaw Digital in the spring of 2019 as design lead for the Shoppers Drug Mart mobile app. The team of four was tasked with designing an app that could support beauty shopping and basic online pharmacy services. I led the team in general in addition to leading most of the research efforts.
Since the product road map was largely set before my team joined the project or Loblaw Digital, the majority of the work consisted of production design. We did however, conduct some strategic research that led to major information architecture changes to both the app and the web. This strategic research is documented in a paper that was submitted and accepted to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Soeciety 2020 conference. That paper is linked below.
The app can be downloaded in the Apple or Android app stores. SDM Mobile App
The Emoti-Chair was one of the most interesting and rewarding projects I have ever worked on. The Emoti-Chair is a vibrotactile interface that was designed to convey musical and other audio based information to the deaf and hard-of-hearing, although as is the case with many assistive technologies targeted at those with a disability, hearing people can enjoy it as well. The Emoti-Chair emerged out of research into closed captioning. My team wanted to deliver more to the audience, than just letting them know music was playing or sound effects were occurring. On the Emoti-Chair project I contributed to all aspects of the projects, including research, strategy, prototype, design and development.
The Vibrochord was the project I chose to do for my PhD at The University of Toronto. I felt the Vibrochord was a natural extension to The Emoti-Chair which was a vibrotactile display project I worked on as a designer, prototyper and researcher at Ryerson University. As this was a PhD project I was responsible for everything done during the project from initial concept designs, to prototype fabrication, to research and finally the write up.
The Vibrochord and the new system of music I developed is capable of delivering musical information to a vibrotactile display. Through my design and research, I was able to show that emotion can be conveyed through vibrotactile music. As was expected, tempo and note frequency were the major contributors to how users experienced Vibrotactile music.
The MagnusMode project was a project I worked on as Principle Investigator while I was a Professor at Centennial College. On this projected, I partnered with an industry partner get the first version of their product up and running. MagnusMode is a application for both the desktop and smartphone that helps older people with autism function more independently. Along side an excellent team of developers and designers, we designed and built the initial prototype and also conducted user studies with several groups of users.
During the MagnusMode project I also served as the primary leader and coordinator of both development and research efforts. I led two teams, one team of front and back end developers and another team of researchers. I managed both teams and coordinated the development effort with research efforts.
The Powered to Play augmented reality project was another project I led as a principle investigator while I was a Professor at Centennial College. In this project I initiated and developed a concept for an augmented reality, “capture-the-flag” game for people in mobile scooters. I initiated and coordinated the partnership between Centennial College, Ryerson University and an industry partner. On this project I led the design, development and research aspects of it. Several papers were published on the findings of this project.
I worked at RBC @ Digital for almost two years as both a UX Designer and later Manager of Prototyping. As a UX designer I worked on several projects including RBC online banking and the RBC Mobile App. As a UX designer I primarily interfaced with business analysts and produced static wireframes using Axure. As manager of Prototyping I managed a small prototyping team and produced dozens of prototypes using Axure, HTML/CSS/Jquery and Android studio to support various user research initiatives. We supported many user testing initiatives, including changes to the online banking website and a complete redesign of their mobile app.
I worked at CIBC as UX designer for almost a year. Primarily I worked on re-designing a portion of their branch teller software to incorporate a digital cheque scanners they were in the process of installing for every branch customer service representative. Additionally, I helped on several other projects, including a Foreign Exchange project as a prototyper and user researcher.
Using my prototyping skills and an application called Selenium I was able to create a simulation of the cheque scanning process to use to user testing. I also conducted many user research projects including several studies conducted at local bank branches.