MEET JEFFERSON McCLOUD: THRIVE’S DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL EXPERIENCE DESIGN
Jeff McCloud has been on both sides of a lot of different fences throughout his professional career. He started out marketing products before transitioning to designing them. He’s since worked on both the client and consultancy sides and has designed medical devices for both physicians and consumers. (He even attended schools with a longtime rivalry: Jeff earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, then went on to get his Master’s in industrial design from Georgia Tech.) It’s all of these assorted experiences that make him particularly suited to his new role at THRIVE as Director of Digital Experience Design, a field that requires looking at design from multiple (and sometimes opposing) viewpoints: form v. function, usability v. desirability, even varying user needs based on various environmental contexts.
“I love being able to go to work every day and make something and solve complex issues. The more complex, the better,” Jeff says. Good thing for Jeff, complexity is pretty inherent in digital experience design, especially in the healthcare realm, where he has focused much of his career. “Even things that have huge constraints to them. Constraints can be very liberating, and you can actually design something that fits within that mold.”
Jeff first became interested in user experience while studying at Georgia Tech, where he worked at their Research Institute doing human factors engineering and usability testing for commercial and military applications. After graduation, he took a position at MITRE in Massachusetts, where he worked on the government side of innovation, doing research and design with a focus on data visualization and mobile health. He then worked designing connected health products for medical consultancy Ximedica, followed by an in-house position in product design for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
But one of his most noted roles throughout his time working in Massachusetts was as a volunteer at the MIT D-Lab, working with students to make medical devices for the developing world. “If you send an MRI machine to rural Nicaragua say, within a couple of weeks that machine is going to be broken and never be able to be fixed because they don’t have access to adequate power, or maybe the air filter isn’t designed for those conditions,” Jeff explains. “So we looked at how to empower the healthcare professionals in the developing world to create devices themselves in collaboration with MIT.” One solution: looking to auto parts and toys as locally sourced materials. “They both have great distribution, even in the developing world. So we would see if they could use car parts to build a prosthetic arm or Legos for a lateral flow test,” he continues. “As designers, we like to think we have all the answers, but really the people that are in those environments through contextual inquiry and collaboration you can get a solution that works better for that environment and is more adaptable for those people.”
Jeff has brought that thoughtful human-centered approach with him back to Georgia, and to THRIVE as Director of Digital Experience Design. “I’m looking forward to helping shape and mold the digital experience at THRIVE, and put a lot more firepower behind that to expand the team’s capabilities,” he says. “It’s not just thinking about the digital experience, or the UI or IoT, but how all of it interacts with the data, how that information is brought to the application, how you present it to the user, and how that can make the experience more powerful for all stakeholders.”