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I've been building online experiences for 28 years. I'm a child of the internet turned UX designer, product strategist, and entrepreneur.

Tamara Olson

Me, thinking about how to improve your product’s UX.

Work & Education

  • Studio Simpatico – Owner/Founder (2014-present)
  • Google – Senior Interaction Designer (2010-2014)
  • The New York Observer – UX Lead (2007-2009)
  • Apple – Interactive Creative Team Intern (2007)
  • Master’s, NYU, ITP (2008)
  • B.A. Media Studies, Macalester Collge (2006)

Hard Skills

  • UX Design & Research
    I had the privilege of learning from the best: after grad school and an internship at Apple, I “grew up” as a UXer at Google. I led a UX team in Ads and then led UX on Google Classroom before setting out on my own. For the last 10 years, I’ve led strategy, UX, and product for all engagements at Studio Simpatico.
  • Visual Design & Product UI Design
    I’m no stranger to UI kits and visual design systems; I’m fluent in Sketch, Figma, and XD.
  • Front-End & Back-End Development
    I’ve been building websites since the mid 1990s. After studying computer science in college and a variety of development courses at ITP (NYU), I’ve been building sites on WordPress for 10+ years. Simpatico is recognized as one of the country’s leading WordPress agencies. I serve as the studio’s WordPress architect and manage a team of 5 developers.
  • Business & Sales
    With no starting capital, I successfully grew a one-woman business (in 2014) into an autonomous, highly functional team of 10 full-time employees. I manage all studio operations, including full P/L responsibilities.
  • Writing
    I’m a liberal arts school Media Studies major who was ready to become a journalist (and thought web design would be a hobby). Prior to grad school, I wrote for several magazine publications. I attribute my success in UX to being able to tell a story successfully, and that all starts with writing.
Tamara focusing on laptop

Me, contemplating whether the iPad Pro can really be a laptop replacement.

Soft Skills

  • Client Satisfaction & Customer Service
    Exceptional (5 star) reviews on Clutch.
  • Leading & Motivating People and Teams
    At Google, I received high Googlegeist reviews. After leaving Google, starting as a team of one in 2014 with no startup capital, I recruited and grew a team from scratch into a highly successful 13-person studio. I am unapologetically optimistic, practical, nerdy, and entrepreneurial. In the words of seasoned copywriter and Simpatico partner BJ Fleming:“Tamara is exceptionally talented at recruiting, managing, and leading interdisciplinary teams. As a ambi-brainer, she wrangles creatives like me while keeping an eye toward strategy. She’s naturally easy to rally around, and it’s my fervent hope that she never starts a cult. Because I will surely join. The company she founded, Studio Simpatico, is a smooth-running extension of these soft and hard skills.”
  • Creating Efficient & Effective Systems
    I thrive on bringing order to chaos. I invented our studio’s project management and collaboration systems, leveraging tools from Linear to Harvest to Basecamp to Slack to Airtable to Confluence.
  • Self Teaching
    I’m still the same little girl, staying up past her bedtime, trying to reach the end of the internet. From semantic HTML to learning how to start an LLC, I’ve never shied away from rolling up my sleeves and figuring things out.
Tamara leading the team

Me, in my element with the Simpaticos.

Select UX Design Engagements

  • Iron & Air (2022)
    I led the Studio Simpatico engagement from discovery to delivery, serving as the overall project lead and sole UX designer. Working closely with Bruce (creative director), Amber (front-end development lead), and the Iron & Air founders, we were able to fully realize Iron & Air as a digital lifestyle brand. The site was nominated for a Webby Award in 2022.
    View case study
  • Bridge (2020)
    Simpatico was tasked with designing an end-to-end, self-service ad buying platform. Though I brought considerable online monetization experience to the engagement (I led the Google DFP UX team), I knew that wasn’t enough. The product’s success hinged on it being easily understood by SMBs, users who understand their businesses completely but aren’t familiar with the jargon and complicated processes of online media buying. Throughout our design process, we tested our designs (user flows, copywriting, and branding) to ensure it resonated with small business owners.
    Work samples available on request
  • Marbyl (2022)
    A mobile application with a different approach to podcasts. Studio Simpatico worked with the founders, product, and engineering to re-design the end-to-end UX.
    Work samples available on request
  • (2020)
    I led UX, research, strategy, PM, and CMS architecture for Studio Simpatico’s rebuild of, a beloved site that connects gardeners with surplus produce to local food pantries. The upgraded experience responds beautifully on mobile devices, adheres to accessibility standards, and is architected on WordPress in a way that empowers internal staff to manage pantries with ease.
    View case study
  • SeeHer (2020)
    The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) reached out to Studio Simpatico to design and build a new website (built on WordPress) for the SEEHER initiative. SEEHER’s mission is to accurately portray women and girls in marketing, advertising, media, and entertainment. The site needed to support content for supporters, partner organizations, and member organizations. I worked with the SeeHer team on the full site UX and strategy. The successful engagement led Simpatico to being hired for another engagement: designing a site for the #EngageResponsibly initiative.
    View case study
  • AdTheorent (2018-2019)
    AdTheorent builds custom machine learning models using historic and real-time data to predict future actions for every campaign. AdTheorent’s predictive platform learns who will convert and identifies the parameters driving performance.
    I worked with the product management team to lead UX for the self service product.
    Work samples available on request
  • Orchard Platform (2017-2019)
    I worked with the founders and product management team to design the initial UX for the loan origination platform. I also helped facilitate user testing and feedback sessions.
    Work samples available on request
  • Google Classroom (2013-2014, Full Time)
    I led design during the very early days of Google Classroom, leading up to launch. I partnered closely with PM, engineering, and UX research, working within New York City schools to understand teacher and student needs, brainstorm features, and test prototypes.
  • Google Ads (2010-2013, Full Time)
    As the full-time DoubleClick for Publishers UX lead in the New York office, I led the four-person design and research team. We worked closely with publishers, conducting countless discovery interviews and usability studies (typically task-based cognitive walkthroughs).
  • The New York Observer Redesign (2007-2009, Full Time)
    Led the user experience design for the 2009 site redesign. After the launch, immediately experienced a 60% increase in pages per visit, a 160% increase in homepage views, and a 455% increase in time-on-site. Following the redesign, the site was (for the first time in its history) one of five newspapers nominated for the 2009 Best Newspaper Site Webby Award (The New York Times was the only other American newspaper nominated).

Select UX Research Engagements

  • Sapphire Digital (2020)
    I worked with Sapphire Digital on two research studies. The first was a tactical study to understand whether a proposed design worked more effectively than the current implementation. I led my team in building a prototype and tested it using the cognitive walkthrough method with users (recruited through The second, broader study sought to answer larger questions about users’ mental models and current usage trends.
    Research reports available on request
  • ReadyPipe (2018)
    The web-based interface for YipitData’s proprietary web scraping technology. Product management leadership came to me knowing that they had a problem with their UX, but were unsure how to solve it: They knew the UX and UI was confusing both trained internal users and newly onboarded users. They also knew the product team was struggling with where and how to add new features. I conducted a heuristic audit of the application (after a thorough walkthrough from the product manager), as well as several lean usability studies with a variety of users, watching them perform key tasks. Based on this information, I quickly realized where the product’s overall design didn’t map to users’ mental models. My deliverables included a presentation of findings and wireframes outlining suggested improvements.
    Research report & wireframes available on request
  • Sailthru (2016)
    Sailthru was receiving negative feedback on their product’s user experience, but their customer satisfaction surveys didn’t include specifics They were looking for actionable recommendations of how to improve the product. I authored a plan that included customer interviews, during which I asked them to perform key tasks (as well as asked them general questions about how they use the products, their frustrations, etc.) I organized findings into a presentation of high-level themes which I presented to leadership, and included a video highlight reel to circulate among the engineering and product teams.
    Research report available on request