Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. Focus on human factors in aviation and pilots’ use of automated systems on the flight deck.
New Jersey born and bred. Currently Ohio-based.
I’ve worked in user experience since the days of dial-up. My recent industry experience includes roles as Director of User Research at UnitedHealth Group, where I developed and delivered user experience training, and as Director of Research and Principal User Researcher at Evisort, where I built the first user research program for their contract lifecycle management application integrating ML/AI to extract business intelligence from legal agreements.
As Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, I led the User Experience Design Master of Science program at Kent State University, shepherding its promotion from a course concentration to a full Master’s program. Prior to my time at Kent State I led UX efforts at Turning Technologies and CloudPassage.
In 2009 I founded ShermanUX, a user experience research and design consultancy. As a consultant I’ve conducted user research, usability testing, and design for mobile, web and desktop in many domains, although my sweet spot is anywhere with complex, distributed workflows and enterprise-level productivity applications and systems-of-record.
Before ShermanUX I was Senior Director of User-Centered Design at Sage Software in Atlanta, Georgia, where I led efforts to redesign the UI and workflow for Peachtree Accounting and several other business productivity products. Early in my UX career I served as a User-Centered Design Manager at Intuit and a Member of Technical Staff at Lucent Technologies.
In my spare time you can usually find me assembling guitars from a collection of parts I’ve accumulated over the last 20 or so years. Some of them turn out pretty good. Here are a few of my better builds.
ShermanUX – Cleveland, OH
Principal Consultant (2008 to present)
Transform clients’ products and services via user research, iterative design, process implementation, and mentoring. Clients include Adopt-a-Pet.com, American Medical Identifications, Autosoft, CloudPassage, Dell, Entertainment Partners, The Federal Reserve, First American Title, FormFire, Lenovo, Microsoft, Realtime Gaming, Rio Tinto, Synq Solutions, Trend Micro, University Health Systems, USAA, Verizon, and others.
- Redesigned the Microsoft HealthVault Web portal. I conducted field observations of target users, tested HealthVault web portal prototypes, and iterated the portal design based on user research findings.
- Redesigned and usability tested the information architecture and workflow for Dell’s online server configurator. Conducted field observations of IT professionals to identify needs and represent them in prototypes.
- Established agile / lean UX research and design processes and governance as interim UX director at Entertainment Partners.
- Over the course of a four-week discovery, ideation, and design sprint, interviewed and observed Rio Tinto mining process stakeholders and target users, identified data visualization and process control user needs for multiple user types, created a mobile prototype, usability tested the prototype then revised it based on user feedback.
- Observed Lenovo customers during the consumer PC out-of-box and setup experiences, and then designed improved multi-channel / multi-modal onboarding workflows and user interfaces.
- After conducting user interviews, designed alternative versions of the American Medical Identifications checkout flow, then usability tested them to identify the best-performing version.
- Usability tested and redesigned the dashboard and workflows of CloudPassage Halo, a SaaS security application for private, public, and hybrid cloud computing environments. Halo was recognized by GigaOM, eWeek, and The Wall Street Journal for cloud security innovation.
Evisort – San Fransisco, CA
Principal User Researcher (2022 – 2023)
Led user experience research for a SaaS contract lifecycle management platform that incorporates artificial intelligence, machine learning, and integration into multiple external systems. Clients include Netflix, BNY Mellon, Shell, Workday, and other Fortune 500 organizations.
- Embedded design thinking and agile discovery methods into the organization, leading week-long accelerated sprints as well as two-week sprints to get to concepts faster.
- Led user interviews and usability assessments for high risk / high reward features incorporating generative AI, resulting in better product-market fit and improved workflow for users.
Director of User Research Training (2021 – 2022)
Led a team of product designers and educational technologists as we modernized the user research and user needs discovery training process for the Optum Business unit, resulting in a significant improvement in learner satisfaction.
- Increased average Net Promoter score for the Service Design course from 45 to 78.
Kent State University
Associate Professor (2014 – 2021)
Using pragmatic product management principles, grew the user experience research and design course sequence from a curriculum concentration to a full Master of Science program.
- Increased student retention from ~75% to over 90%, among the highest of all master’s programs.
Head of Product Design (2010 – 2012)
Improved Turning’s hardware and software offerings through user research, usability testing, and iterative design of the workflows and user interfaces for the ResponseCard and ResponseWare products.
- Embedded user-centered design practices into the product research, design, and development life cycle.
- Redesigned and validated the UI/user experience of several software and hardware products, including PresenterCard, TurningPoint AnyWhere (Mac and PC), and ResponseWare (Web app).
- Started the Turning web and software accessibility program, a cross-team initiative to ensure that Turning products meet US and international standards for accessibility.
Director of User-Centered Design (2004 – 2009)
Led the adoption of agile user-centered research and design processes for Peachtree Accounting and MAS 90/500 accounting software. Responsible for the award-winning redesign of Peachtree Accounting.
- Customer experience research, design and usability: Drove improvements to Peachtree’s end-to-end customer experience by identifying gaps then redesigning key areas of the desktop application, product web properties and other customer touch points. Redesigned touch points included web- and phone-based product registration, web-based software purchase, in-product cross-selling, as well as the retail box and user assistance collateral contained within.
- Process innovation: Drove redesign of key R&D processes, including ideation, design, and development. Moved the organization from a linear “waterfall” process to an agile, iterative, collaborative process.
- Product and service innovation: Championed the establishment of and designed processes for innovation teams charged with discovering un- and under-served customer needs, prototyping solutions, and establishing business cases for creation of new products and services.
- Software user research, design and usability: Orchestrated the redesign of the user interface and interaction model of Peachtree accounting software, a $100M+ software product line. Peachtree 2007 was recognized by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in 2008 with a User-Centered Product Design Award Honorable Mention.
- Leadership and evangelism: Developed and delivered training to product teams across North America that covered user-centered design and its incorporation into the product development lifecycle.
Prior experience as User-Centered Design Manager at Intuit, Director of User Research at Andara Digital, Senior Lecturer at Unversity of Texas at Dallas, and Member of Technical Staff at Lucent Technologies.
Presentations and Publications
Peer-Reviewed Books And Contributed Chapters
- Sherman, Paul J. (Ed.), Usability Success Stories: How Organizations Improve By Making Easier-To-Use Software and Websites. Gower Press, Aldershot Hampshire, UK, 2006.
- Sherman, Paul J. An Introduction To Usability And User-Centered Design (2006). In Sherman, P.J. (Ed.), Usability Success Stories: How Organizations Improve By Making Easier-To-Use Software and Websites. Gower Press, Aldershot Hampshire, UK.
- Sherman, Paul J & Hura, Susan L. Collaborating With Change Agents To Make A Better User Interface (2006). In Sherman, P.J. (Ed.), Usability Success Stories: How Organizations Improve By Making Easier-To-Use Software and Websites. Gower Press, Aldershot Hampshire, UK.
- Sherman, Paul J. Learning From Success Stories (2006). In Sherman, P.J. (Ed.), Usability Success Stories: How Organizations Improve By Making Easier-To-Use Software and Websites. Gower Press, Aldershot Hampshire, UK.
- Sherman, Paul J. Applying Crew Resource Management Theory And Methods To The Operational Environment (2003). In Tsang, P.S. & Vidulich, M.A. (Eds.), Principles And Practice Of Aviation Psychology, Lawrence Erlbaum & Associates, Mahwah NJ.
- Testing Your Own Designs Redux. Published in UXMatters Magazine, December 2009. http://uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2009/12/testing-your-own-designs-redux.php
- Testing Your Own Designs: Bad Idea? Published in UXMatters Magazine, September 2009. http://uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2009/09/testing-your-own-designs-bad-idea.php
- 8 Things You Should Be Doing in Your UX Practice, but Probably Aren’t. Published in UXMatters Magazine, July 2009. http://uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2009/07/8-things-you-should-be-doing-in-your-ux-practice-but-probably-arent.php
- The User Experience of Enterprise Software Matters, Part 2. Published in UXMatters Magazine, March 2009. http://uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2009/03/the-user-experience-of-enterprise-software-matters-part-2-strategic-user-experience.php.
- The User Experience of Enterprise Software Matters. Published in UXMatters Magazine, December 2008. http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000362.php.
- Malware: Whether on the Desktop or the Web, It’s a Perception Thing. Published in UXMatters Magazine, September 2008. http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000318.php.
- Where’s My Stuff? Beyond the Nested Folder Metaphor. Published in UXMatters Magazine, April 2008. http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000271.php.
- The Perpetual Super-Novice. Published in UXMatters Magazine, December 2007. http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000249.php.
- How Do Users Really Feel About Your Design? Published in UXMatters Magazine, September 2007. http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000223.php.
- Your Design Is Infringing On My Patent: The Case Against User Interface and Interaction Model Patents and Intellectual Property. Published in UXMatters Magazine, July 2007. http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000210.php.
- Connecting Cultures, Changing Organizations: The User Experience Practitioner As Change Agent. Published in UXMatters Magazine, January 2007. http://uxmatters.com/MT/archives/000162.php.
- Engineering the User Experience: UX and the Usability Professionals Association. Published in ACM-SIGCHI Interactions 12-3, 2005.
- Redesign of a Technical Support Interactive Voice Response System: Applying Heuristics to Business Problems. Published in Proceedings of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society 47th Annual Meeting, 2003.
- Toward More Accessible Web Sites. Published in Ergonomics in Design Magazine, Winter 2003.
Presentations And Addresses
- The Ethics of Onboarding Users. Invited address to the 2019 World Information Architecture Day conference. Kent, OH, February 2019.
- Ethical Design: Is It Possible? Invited address to the 2018 User Experience Southeast Asia Conference, Singapore, November 2018. https://youtu.be/I1i-Pal7BvY
- Onboarding Patterns: When Persuasive Design and Ethics Collide. Invited address to the 2018 World Usability Day Cleveland conference, November 2018.
- Get Strategic: A Hands-On, Collaborative Workshop For Creating A UX Strategic Plan. Workshop for the 2017 Interaction South America conference. Florianopolis, Brazil, November 2017.
- The Unicorn Is Dead: Soft Skills Beat Coding Skills. Invited address to the 2017 Interaction South America conference. Florianopolis, Brazil, November 2017.
- Get Strategic: A Hands-On, Collaborative Workshop For Creating A UX Strategic Plan. Workshop for the 2017 UX India conference. Bangalore, India, November 2017.
- The Unicorn Is Dead: Soft Skills Beat Coding Skills. Invited address to the 2017 User Experience Philippines conference. Manila, Philippines, May 2017. Also delivered at the Engineers.sg conference, September 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDFsV6tlS_U&t=1823s&pp=ygUPcGF1bCBzaGVybWFuIFVY
- Field Research at the Speed of Business. Invited address to the 2017 User Experience Oxford conference. Oxford, UK, April 2017.
- The Unicorn Is Dead: Soft Skills Trump Coding Skills. Invited address to the 2016 User Experience New Zealand conference. Wellington NZ, October 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSkDLYDsbBc&pp=ygUPcGF1bCBzaGVybWFuIFVY
- User Onboarding: Patterns and Anti-Patterns Explored. Invited address to the 2016 User Experience Singapore conference. Singapore, September 2016.
- Get Strategic: A Hands-On, Collaborative Workshop For Creating A UX Strategic Plan. Workshop for the 2016 User Experience Singapore conference. Singapore, September 2016. (Workshop also presented at the UX Cambridge conference. September 2016; and the UX New Zealand conference, October 2016.)
- User Onboarding: Patterns and Anti-Patterns Explored. Invited address to the User Experience Professionals Association Cleveland Chapter. Parma OH, July 2016.
- The Unicorn Is Dead: Soft Skills Trump Coding Skills. Invited Address to the 2016 EvolveUX conference. San Francisco CA, June 2016. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/the-ux-unicorn-is-dead-soft-skills-trump-coding-skills
- The User Experience Landscape. Invited address to the World Usability Day 2015 conference. Cleveland OH, November 2015. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/the-ux-landscape-2015
- Changing Minds, Removing Barriers: UX Practitioner as Strategist and Change Agent. Invited address to the Northeast Los Angeles UX Meetup group. Pasadena CA, July 2015. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/changing-minds-removing-barriers-ux-practitioner-as-strategist-and-change-agent
- Embedding UX Into Your Processes. Workshop for the 2015 UX Strategies Summit. San Francisco CA, June 2015. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/uxss2015-workshop-paulsherman.
- Decision Insurance: Iterative Prototyping To Reduce Business Risk. Invited address to the 2015 UX Strategies Summit. San Francisco CA, June 2015. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/decision-insurance-iterative-prototyping-to-reduce-business
- Ethnographic Research at the Speed of Business. Presentation for the UX Akron professional community. Akron OH, February 2015. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/ethnography-at-the-speed-of-business
- Building a UX-Focused Company Culture. Presentation for the UX Akron professional community. Kent OH, September 2013.
- Web Usability and Conversion (For Online Marketers and Friends). Invited address to the Online Marketing Summit 2010. San Diego, CA, February 2010. http://bit.ly/d6NO0l
- Usability…Or Strategic User Experience? Invited address to the Usability Marathon 2 conference. Moscow, Russia, October 2009. http://marathon.uidesign.ru/sherman.html
- Attaining A Great User Experience For Enterprise Software Applications. Invited address to the Product Camp Austin Summer 2009 conference. Austin Texas, August 2009. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/attaining-usability-and-a-great-user-experience-for-enterprise-products
- From Personas to Production: The Role of The Role of Personas, Design Briefs, Stories, Storyboards, and Wireframes in the Ideation/Design/Build Process. Invited address to the Product Camp Austin Summer 2009 conference. Austin Texas, August 2009. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/from-personas-to-production-the-role-of-personas-design-briefs-stories-storyboards-and-wireframes-in-the-ideationdesignbuild-process
- A Kit For Building User Experience Teams in R&D Organizations. Invited address to the Big (D)esign Conference 2009. Dallas Texas, May 2009. http://www.slideshare.net/PaulSherman/user-experience-kit
- Usability For Strategic User Experience. Invited address to the the 2009 Online Marketing Summit. San Diego, California, February 2009.
- User Experience: Drive Change, Become Strategic. Opening plenary presentation to User Friendly 2008, the 5th Annual Conference of the China Usability Professionals Association. Shenzhen, China, October 2008.
- Keynote presentation to the 7th Annual International Conference of Ergonomics and Usability, Interface Design, and Human Computer Interaction. Balneario Camboriu, Brazil, July 2007.
- Shaking the Tree: A Case Study of A Usability Turnaround. Invited address to User Friendly 2006, the 3rd Annual Conference of the China Usability Professionals Association. Hangzhou, China, October 2006.
- Some Right – and Many Wrong – Ways to Incorporate Usability into an Organization. Workshop for User Friendly 2006, the 3rd Annual Conference of the China Usability Professionals Association. Hangzhou, China, October 2006.
- Setting up a Usability Team. Roundtable Leader at User Friendly 2006, the 3rd Annual Conference of the China Usability Professionals Association. Hangzhou, China, October 2006.
- Usability Successes and (Gasp) Failures: More Case Studies in Usability Engineering. Invited address to the Usability Professionals Association 15th Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, June 2006.
Curriculum Development & Teaching
Accredited Masters-level Curriculum
Kent State University
- Accessibility Evaluation & Universal Design
- Information Architecture I
- Information Architecture II
- Interaction Design I
- Researching User Experience I
- Researching User Experience II
- Usability I
- Usability II
- User Experience Leadership
- User Experience in Practice
- User Experience Principles and Concepts
University of Texas at Dallas
- Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction
- Human-Computer Interaction II
- Human-Computer Interaction Lab
- Fundamentals of Usability, User Research and User-Centered Design – 3-day training.
- Incorporating User Experience Into the Product Design Life Cycle – 1-day training.
- Strategic Planning for User Experience Teams – 1-day training.
Awards and Honors
- 2009: User Experience Professionals Association President’s Award – for service to the user experience community and the UPA.
- 2008: Human Factors and Ergonomics Association – HFES User-Centered Product Design Award – for user research, design, and usability analysis on the Peachtree Accounting 2007 redesign project.
- 2019: Volunteer, City of Twinsburg Community Emergency Response Team.
- 2017: Adult and Pediatric First Aid / CPR / AED Certification.