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Deborah J. Mayhew, PhD

Deborah J. Mayhew, PhDDr. Mayhew is an independent contractor with extensive experience in software, web-enabled application, internet and website usability and user experience engineering.

She has worked with clients in many different industries (e.g., financial services, medical/healthcare, manufacturing, computer hardware and software, utilities, publishing, legal) as well as government agencies and academic institutions.

Dr. Mayhew’s  projects have involved a broad range of hardware/software platforms (e.g., mainframe/dumb terminals, desktop GUIs, 15 years of evolving web browsers, specialized scientific, medical and factory instruments, mobile devices), application types (e.g., desktop software applications, intranets, web enabled applications, public websites) and user types (e.g., doctors, customer service reps, factory workers, lawyers, casual website users).

Her usability experience and skills cross the entire product development lifecycle including user research, user interface (UI) design, heuristic evaluation, and usability testing (in lab, in the wild and remote).

Dr. Mayhew has provided consulting on usability process and methodology in development organizations, and has extensive experience teaching and mentoring junior usability professionals and developers.

Download Dr. Mayhew’s resume



User Profiling

Contextual Task Analysis

Card Sorting


Surveys and Questionnaires


Information Architecture


User Interface Design

Interaction Design


Formal Usability Testing (lab, in the wild, remote)

Heuristic Evaluation


Usability Process and Methodology

Teaching and Mentoring

Usability Cost-Benefit Analysis

User Documentation


PhD, Experimental Cognitive Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA

MA, Experimental Cognitive Psychology, University of Denver, Denver, CO

BA, Psychology, Brown University, Providence, RI

Sample Projects

Client: Small Startup Business
Project: Usability Testing of Public Website with Advertising Business Model

Startup was building a website aimed primarily at physicians to provide a digital alternative to the classic Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) on prescription drugs.  Guided the development of a prototype to test initial UI design.  Developed task scripts, other testing materials and recruiting criteria.  Conducted moderated test sessions with a sample of doctors and collected performance and satisfaction data. Analyzed and interpreted data and collaborated with graphic designer and web developer to redesign to address revealed usability flaws.

Client: Government Agency
Project: User Research, UI Design and Usability Testing of a Web-Based Application

Served as user interface design lead throughout the entire development lifecycle for a new web-based application for internal agency staff.  Conducted usability requirements analyses. Inferred and documented user interface design goals from data. Wireframed a user interface design to meet those goals with ongoing input from subject matter experts (SMEs) and developers. Guided prototype development for testing purposes and planned and conducted a usability test of prototype. Analyzed and interpreted data, and prepared redesign recommendations in the form of a revised wireframe.  After launch, prepared an instructors’ manual, a UI Style Guide, and a user manual for the application.

Client:  Financial Services Company
Project: Cognitive Modeling and Usability Testing of a Suite of GUI Applications

Carried out cognitive modeling of proposed graphical user interface (GUI) redesigns of a suite of legacy mainframe mail processing applications to determine if they would result in target increases in user productivity necessary to cost-justify the redesign/redevelopment effort.  Made redesign recommendations where modeling indicated target productivity increases would not be met.  Guided client staff in the development of a prototype, and then in the setup, execution and interpretation of results of formal productivity testing to confirm achievement of productivity increases after the new GUI applications launched. The project allowed the business manager to predict fairly accurately – long before the proposed applications were developed and launched – whether or not target productivity gains would in fact be achieved, significantly mitigating the risk of a multi-million dollar development effort.

Client: Construction Company
Responsive Website Design

Worked with branding expert, graphic designer, web developer, SEO expert and client to redesign website and implement in WordPress as a responsive site.  Redesigned information architecture. Wireframed design. Worked with graphic designer to establish style guide to insure usability of both desktop and mobile versions, and maximize consistency across them.

Client: Insurance Company
Project: Coaching Client Staff on the Usability Engineering Lifecycle and Usability Techniques

Conducted two-day course introducing the usability engineering lifecycle to the entire project team.  Then guided and coached the team as they planned and carried out requirements analysis tasks (user profiling, task analyses, card sorting), UI design, and formal usability testing of two alternative prototypes.  The project manager entered the project in a national contest and won first prize, based primarily on the user-centered design approach taken and the success of the final application in the user organization.

Client: Commercial Software Vendor
Project: Application UI Heuristic Evaluation

First performed a heuristic evaluation of a new application release in the design process. Then wireframed redesign recommendations and presented/discussed in design meetings with project team.

Client: Manufacturing Products Vendor
Project: Product UI Redesign

Product was a factory assembly line robot that included a software application for trouble shooting the product performance in the manufacturing process. There had been ongoing complaints by customers that the troubleshooting UI was difficult to learn and use. The company was concerned about losing market share to the competition.  First redesigned the operator interface at the information architecture and conceptual model levels, and prepared screen design standards for the design team to follow. Then offered continued design advice as the design team conducted detailed UI design.

Professional Affiliations

Professional Society – Member

The User Experience Professionals’ Association (UXPA)

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI)

ACM SIGCHI Boston Local Chapter (BOSCHI)

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES)

HFES Computer Systems Technical Group (CSTG)

HFES New England Chapter (NEC)

Professional Society – Volunteer

Reviewer – ongoing, conference papers, society magazine and scientific journal articles, grant proposals

Society Liaison – 1987, HFES and ACM SIGCHI joint annual conference

Conference Local Arrangements Co-Chair – 1986, ACM SIGCHI annual conference

Conference Local Arrangements Co-Chair – 1983, ACM SIGCHI annual conference