Designing for users from day one, that’s just the way I work. No matter the medium or purpose of the work, there’s only one person that counts—the user. It’s my mission to make sure the user’s experience is always awesome—whatever the work may be.
My earliest experience with digital product design was designing intranet directory systems for AT&T and TimeWarner on the early Web. I went on to design the UI for a basic TV broadcasting application that evolved into another product I worked on—ShadowTV. While at ShadowTV, I was responsible for User Interface and Experience design, taking charge of the direction and shape of product features for this groundbreaking TV monitoring Web app.
Most recently, I’ve had the privilege of being the product and UX lead on Vook, a cloud-based end-to-end epublishing system that has been called “a game changer” by Publishers Weekly and praised for its ease of use by countless users.
First a little background, ebook publishing is still a lot harder than it should be, usually involving workers with Web-development skills—Vook makes this complex task easy. Vook is an end-to-end cloud-based epublishing solution. With Vook, users can create and publish their ebook anywhere; build and style awesome looking ebooks without knowing any code; easily add video, pictures and sound, preview their ebooks quickly and easily on any device; manage metadata simply; watch sales from multiple channels in one dashboard.
Right after Vook’s public launch, I began using a combination of monitoring Web analytics and user testing to optimize user conversion. One example of the improved signup process is a unified login and signup page—reducing the need to drive users to the correct page. I also worked with engineering to remove as much friction as possible, reducing the signup workflow from a five-step process to a single step.
From one dashboard, users can start a new project, quickly see the status of current projects and even get sales data from multiple ebook marketplaces—including Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
In addition to an easy user experience and flexible workflow, the Vook Boilerplate and Style Editor are two major contributions I personally made to Vook. To learn how ebooks work, I learned how to hand-code them. During that process, I quickly realized an HTML and CSS boilerplate could be devised for rapid development. The boilerplate could also be packed with best practices and allow for graceful degradation. My work on the initial Vook boilerplate led me to the idea of a graphic user interface that abstracted CSS concepts enough for someone who does not code to be able to style an ebook at the level of someone that can—but still powerful enough for a hand-coding pro. It was great working with Vook engineers to take the initial boilerplate concept and take it to the next level using HTML and CSS precompilers. Even more rewarding is seeing what Vook users can do with the Style Editor I designed for them.
Metadata is the lifeblood of ebook marketing and key to the discoverability that leads to ebook sales. Managing all of the data is a huge challenge, as each ebook store has differing requirements—sometimes for the same data. I created a streamlined user experience by analyzing all of the data sets and collapsing it down to a unified UI broken into three task clusters.
One of the major promises of Vook is push button distribution to multiple ebook distribution channels. Normally, this action requires organizing files for each platform, gathering and preparing metadata XML files or logging into each channel where the user must retype the same data over and over, while uploading the same files multiple times. The distribution user-flow I created for Vook distills all of this down to a single, easy and painless process.
While dated (created in 2001), ShadowTV is another great example of my product UX work.
When I joined ShadowTV the product was in need of a full rebrand and product UX overhaul. I worked with the CMO and started from square one, reevaluating message, competition and audience. I developed a new brand and redesigned the user interface and user experience of the product from the ground up.
ShadowTV is a Web app that creates a searchable recording of televised programming for use of CMOs and PR agencies—think giant DVR on steroids, with a commercial application.
My interest in web design started in the early days of the commercial Web. I helped introduce web design as a service at Bill Smith Studios, designed and built an early site for Scholastic (sadly, Scholastic didn’t launch the site), and designed an award-winning site for Giant Step/Groove Academy.
Right after Vook’s public launch, I began using a combination of monitoring Web analytics and user testing to optimize user conversion. The result included a website redesign that resulted in a 17% lift in traffic from the homepage to the trial sign-up page, as well as changes to the signup process.
To introduce advertisers to the newly relaunched Citysearch, my team created a sweepstakes. The campaign kicked-off with an HTML-email announcing the sweepstakes. The bottom portion of the sweepstakes website contained animation that highlighted the new focus and features of Citysearch.
The Film Photography Podcast had grown organically over the course of a year, spanning a podcast, blog, community on Flickr and a storefront—the number of channels had become unwieldy. I was challenged with creating a brand identity (including development of the mission statement) and web strategy that united all of the disparate parts under the Film Photography Project umbrella. For the website, I was charged with definition, design and project management.
WorldWalk website design for Jasper Design
Open Space Institute website design for Jasper Design
While at IAC I founded an internal agency to meet the needs of advertisers looking for integration with IAC websites. While there, led ideation and creation of award-winning digital creative, including microsites and banners, for big brands such as Schick, Bacardi, and Visa. I not only filled the roles of creative technologist, creative director and business owner, I created advertising products that leveraged Citysearch, Match.com, Evite, and other IAC sites.
The Girl’s Guide to Dating connected Schick’s brand message with their target audience and introduced them to Juliette, the user’s “faithful guide to dating,” who provided valuable tips and advice via video clips and brief articles.
The site also incorporated: mobile “date escape” functionality; sweepstakes; online quiz; content from Ticketmaster to buy tickets to fun events for a date and Citysearch to find the best date spots in your city; and editorial from Match.com’s online magazine, Happen. This site/campaign was an OMMA awards finalist.
The Advance Your Senses microsite helped Acura raise brand awareness and shift perception among its target audience of men, ages 30 to 54, by leveraging Expedia and Citysearch. The site focused on unique and off-the-beaten-path travel experiences. This highly interactive Flash site featured exotic travel destinations provided by Expedia, with new destinations published weekly. To highlight the five senses, each trip contained multiple embedded, rich media hot spots, which included video, audio, and images. The site also contained links to relevant sections on Citysearch and a user-generated section where visitors could upload photos from their own travel adventures.
This microsite helped TBS raise awareness for the season 2 premiere of My Boys series by leveraging Citysearch to deliver geo-targeted sites for 10 key markets. In addition, the show’s key characters provided recommendations for their favorite hot spots in each of these markets—making the site personable and also giving the users an opportunity to identify with the characters individually.
Evite was a natural fit for this campaign in terms of aligning with Hpnotiq’s objective to reach women celebrating special occasions. In order to meet the client’s needs, I developed the concept for a custom Evite invitation with a countdown clock widget, which became the centerpiece of the larger campaign. The widget was incorporated in a custom Evite invitation, syncing the countdown clock to the date and time of the party. In addition, the widget contained five drink recipes, and had a viral component that enabled the host or guests to ”grab“ the widget and place it on a social networking site such as Facebook—enabling Hpnotiq to put its brand not only in front of party’s host and guests, but also the extended audience of the partygoers’ social network.
A project for Artifact Studio, I worked on design, as well as hand-coding this Jo Malone HTML-email.
A project for Artifact Studio, I worked on design, as well as hand-coding this La Mer HTML-email.
When I started at IAC, the go-to custom solution was the microsite, but I always felt there was something wrong with that model. You build a microsite for the advertiser, but no one knows the site exists. You try to drive user-traffic to the site with banners, but always end up with tons of optimization (translation, lots of free inventory). The “banner gadget” solved all the above problems by taking the functionality of a microsite and putting it into a banner—this way the functionality was in front of the user. How well did this solution work? Very well, with engagement rates of over 15%, directly contributing to closing more than $2.25 million in advertising sales, plus winning nine creative awards, including an OMMA.
This OMMA award-winning banner gadget delivered a dynamic, fully integrated, cross-site experience to users from within an ad unit. When users engaged with content in one of the Evite (host a mojito party) or Citysearch (find the best mojito in your area) tabs, they were sent to those sites, where the landing page was roadblocked with Bacardi Mojito branding. On Evite, users could create Bacardi branded invitations to invite friends to their party, further spreading the word about the original Bacardi Mojito.
Using Citysearch listings, Visa sponsored a custom tool that enables users to find the perfect date spot by selecting their market and type of date (takeout, outdoor dining, martini bar, etc). Once preferences were selected, the gadget displayed the suggested location with name and address. In addition, users could click on a link within the gadget to go to Citysearch for more ideas. This banner gadget ran on Match.com.
The Evite Content Module takes the banner gadget concept and makes it a sponsorable part of the site. I was the driving force in developing the Evite Content Module, mapping out functionality, UI and design.
Functionality included: recipes, party tips, party tools such as drink and budget calculators, how-to videos, and product and gift suggestions.
With my marketing education, branding has always been a focus for me. The following logos were designed over the span of my career.
Most of the music packaging work presented here was completed while I operated Industrial Strength Design. When I first opened the studio at the age of 24, I envisioned working on annual reports, but being young and located in the East Village of New York, a more accessible market was the music industry. Projects ranged from music packaging design for self-published release to the major labels—I even got to work on a few projects for some Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famers.
Everyone asks about this cover. The label was sure this CD would sell big, so I wanted to do something that was simple and loud, something that could be seen the second you walked into a music store; thus the field of bright green and the use of the big grinning baby in the corner (yes it is a manipulated image). Over 7 million copies of the CD were sold in the U.S. and Canada alone.
At the start of the World Wide Web’s commercial debut, there was a lot of talk about interactivity and how the Web was much more interactive. While I jumped into learning about and designing for the Web right from the start—I also wanted to show that paper, with its tactile nature, is very much interactive as well. To do this, I started producing self-promotional pieces that showcased what I called “interactive paper” designs. I continue to create “interactive paper” designs, as well as digital interactive work.
This business card is a great example. The business manager of Limbo—a cafe formerly located in the East Village—asked me to design a business card that was unique and fun. The result was a business card with both a visual pun and optical illusion wrapped into one. The card went on to win four design awards, including Best in Show in the Strathmore Graphics Gallery.
Another example is Trick or Treat, a self-promotion for Industrial Strength Design created for Halloween. When the string on top is pulled, the head slides out and a paper tongue with contact information sticks out. The piece went on to win a number of design awards, including the AIGA’s Objects of Desire.
One more example, is a limited edition run of 500 letter-pressed race cars was part of a self-promotion for Industrial Strength Design.
Michael Calleia is a product design and branding leader bringing an entrepreneurial spirit and track record of delivering user-centered, award-winning product and creative solutions that add measurable value. As an experienced team leader and builder; cross-functional collaboration, iteration, and the balancing of user, business and technology needs is in his DNA.
Michael is a seasoned agency and client side professional—including experience with established corporations and startups alike. On the agency side, including as studio founder and owner, Michael created work for everything from hip downtown businesses to Fortune 500 companies, with work which garnered numerous design awards. On the client side, Michael has been a creative and product professional and leader—building great brands and products.
“Publishers Weekly has been testing the platform and it could indeed be a game changer.” —Craig Morgan Teicher, Publishers Weekly,
“You guys did it, you created WordPress for ebooks.” —CTO of major news publisher
“This is so user-friendly” —Author and TED speaker
“I really liked the user interface and the process is very intuitive and clear.”
“It is one of the best done sites I’ve seen and I wish I had had this site when I purchased my house.” —Robert Scoble
“What is great about the site is its usability. It is simple, looks good and you don't spend a second trying to figure out where to click” —Thom Rogers, Hoop.com
“Right from the homepage SmartAsset dazzles with its good looks. In fact, while I was using I couldn’t help but think that it looked like an interactive infographic.” —Dean Sherwin, AppStorm.com
“This is a useful website.” —Phil Hill
“Great, simple cap table tool for Startups...” —Tom Nora
“Michael brought strong leadership to both creative and product management at Vook. His thoughtful designs were often recognized for their ease-of-use overcoming the inherent complexities in ebook creation and publishing. Michael was highly respected by the Engineering team because his open, informed, and agile work style. I look forward to when our paths cross again.” —Rob Guttman, VP of Engineering, Vook
“Michael is a strong creative force, consistently able to balance heavy workloads with a high-level of personal attention to crucial details. Nothing escapes his comprehensive understanding of process. He can take a big picture strategic objective and walk through and execute the complicated individual pieces—long-range thought and daily execution in one—a crucial advantage, particularly in a start-up environment. He‘s also very well versed in the history of design and aesthetics, which means he brings a craftsman‘s eye to his work.” —Matthew Cavnar, VP of Business Development, Vook
“He is certainly a pioneer of sorts in eBook creation. He‘s designed a tool that is both easy to use and incredibly useful. I‘ll always remember Michael as someone who powers through obstacles to churn out an excellent product.” —Michelle Thayer, Product Designer, Vook
“He is a great UI/UX designer and creative director, and has been absolutely invaluable in building the Vook platform into a world class product.” —Omar Niazi, Front End Developer, Vook
“Working with Michael was wonderful for two reasons. First he always demonstrated a deep care for the users and the product. This kept us engineers happy as we were building something that was well thought out. Second, he listened and responded/acted as a team player. We were all very confident of the product we put out because of this wonderful collaboration..” —Amanuel Tewolde, Senior Software Architect, Vook
“Michael is an extremely knowledgeable web design professional. While his title is “creative” and there is no question he delivers exceptional ideas and brings strong design sensibilities to the equation, his greatest asset is his ability to quickly synthesize multiple types of information or criteria (marketing need, technological possibilities, user experience, brand integrity, critical metrics, design) and deliver a concept that satisfies all stakeholders in a project. And his grasp of the underlying technologies that make these concepts possible has always been humbling for me.” —Noelle Cleary, Vice President, Marketing & Sales Development, IAC Advertising
“Michael is the most creative and talented person I have had the pleasure to work with in the digital industry. I have worked with over 30 different creative agencies throughout my career and Michael is the best by far. He is a very strategic thinker who is able to deliver amazing creative ideas that meet the client’s objectives. I appreciated his patience and commitment to help implement my ideas when neither of us were sure it was a possibility. He never once let me down and always found a solution. I hope I have the opportunity to work with Michael again in the future.” —Carlyn Morris, Director of Sales Development, Central and Northwest, IAC Advertising
“Michael Calleia is the rare blend of creative talent and savvy business manager. He understands how to balance business objectives with creative desires. Michael’s design style is clean, sophisticated and modern. He is able to translate vague concepts into clear, dynamic and compelling creative executions.” —Sharon Harris, Vice President of Marketing, IAC Advertising
“Michael also developed an entirely new product which could be customized to best meet the needs of the client. This was a popular and versatile product which was sold to a number of advertisers across various verticals.” —Laurie King, Custom Solutions Manager, IAC Advertising
“I’ve worked with Michael for more than 7 years. He has an amazingly creative mind, is always willing to innovate and pushes all possible boundaries, encouraging his team to go further and try new, more effective and professional solutions. Michael never stops when problems arise, he is always involved in every step of the process, helping in the frontline of every project. A true leader, with an ace up his sleeve. He is always up-to-date with new trends and technologies, not only in design but also in advertising, art, photography and web development, we really learned a lot from him. Michael’s work is top-quality, he is such a professional, extremely generous and an exceptionally good person, with great personal values. I look forward to working with Michael for many more years in the future.” —Alberto A. Langton, Founder/Partner, Optima
“Michael embodies elegant and sophisticated design-style, business smarts and sense of urgency that made working with him nothing but terrific and successful.” —Justyn Makarewycz, Marketing Manager, PlanetOut
“During our time together at OUT&ABOUT, I was always impressed with Michael‘s design work. He evolved the publication forward using extremely limited resources, and gave it new life.” —Sean Timberlake, Editor, OUT&ABOUT; Senior Producer
A leader bringing an entrepreneurial spirit and track record of delivering award-winning, user-centered, creative solutions that add measurable value.
Product design lead of early stage Y-Combinator startup answering life’s big financial questions.
Hired as Creative and User Experience Director, quickly promoted to VP Product and Creative of digital publisher tech startup turned Software as a Service provider, developed cloud-based end-to-end epublishing web-application.
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Founded creative group within advertising sales arm of Internet conglomerate IAC/InterActiveCorp; including authoring and executing business plan to create internal digital agency, which established award-winning creative group as profit center attached to over $16MM; oversaw brand identity of IAC Advertising.
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Led redesign of company’s consumer website. Oversaw corporate branding, including marketing and advertising. Art Directed Out&About product line. Managed and mentored staff, distance managed staff in Buenos Aires and San Francisco.
Worked with a range of agencies and clients on advertising, branding, and product.
Executive team member and design practice lead of digital agency and tech startup.
Founded, owned and operated award-winning design studio, which won 12 design awards in its first year of operation. Client list included: AT&T, Ballantine Books, BMG International, BusinessWeek, Ellen Tracy, Geffen Records, Hearst Corporation, MB Interactive, Newsweek, Philips, Prodigy, Random House, Republic Records, Universal Records, Universal Studios.
Worked with a range of agencies and clients on advertising, branding, and product.
Long-term freelance clients and roles included:
1000 Retail Graphics, Adobe Site of the Day, AIGA Objects of Design, American Center for Design 100 Show, Communicator Awards, Creativity Annual Awards, Creativity International Awards, DPAC Awards, Fresh Ideas in Letterhead & Business Cards Design 3, GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards, GDUSA American In-house Design Awards, How Magazine Self-Promotion Annual, Magellan Awards, OMMA Awards, Print Magazine Regional Design Annual, Print Best of Typography, Strathmore Graphics Gallery
In some cases both advertiser and brand are listed.
In some cases both advertiser and brand are listed.
Agencies and studios
Brands (including both direct clients and brands I worked with through the above agencies and studios)