Hi! I'm Dairien.

I'm a Principal Designer at the mission-driven studio, All Turtles, and founding member of mmhmm. At All Turtles, I advised early stage startups alongside product founders to solve fundamental human problems in spaces like health, education and wellness. I also host Culture Fit: Racial Bias in Tech, a podcast series on racial inequalities. You can find me in San Francisco, California where I coach high school lacrosse during the spring and summer seasons.

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Like products, people have a purpose.
 My purpose is to craft great experiences.

For over 15 years, I have matured and nurtured my talents as a product-savvy, multidisciplinary designer and engineer. I am able to work in all phases of the product development cycle. My unique skillset provides me with the ability to not only build a solution from the ground up, but also assess and address challenges with creative problem solving tactics.

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Generating a well-conceived solution takes continual practice. Although there are both right and wrong answers to a problem, the distinction is not always black and white. Instead, reaching the correct answer equates to moving along a spectrum. How close are you to the correct answer and how do you surpass that qualification with a great solution? That’s my sweet-spot.


Product Definition

The first phase of design is to understand the problem. My process is to define the problem through a series of exercises that includes needs finding, journey mapping, job stories, listing assumptions and How Might Wes. I gather supplemental guidance through competitive analysis and research on related emerging technologies. It is important to acknowledge blindspots. By adopting a beginner’s mindset, I am able to gather a full understanding of the problem.


This is the fun part. I primarily work in one of two design modes. The first mode is explore-mode. In explore-mode, I make quick iterations to improve the usability, accessibility and overall experience of a design. The second mode is the polish-mode. When in the polish-mode I fine-tune the design’s aesthetic, appeal, and delight. The overarching design language is defined by a style guide or pattern library to establish continuity (e.g., typography, colors, interactions).

At the core of my design process are the fundamental principles of Human-Centered Design. Because of this, I am a major proponent of the collaborative design process. I’ve organized and facilitated dozens of design sprints for small and large teams. The exercises have reliably brought together teams to solve difficult problems from the customer’s perspective. A design sprint setting fosters many important learnings and insights, particularly around customer empathy.


In order to understand the effectiveness of a design, it must be tested with the intended customers. I use rapid prototyping to facilitate design iterations. With clearly defined success metrics in place, the iterations can work towards an ideal solution. Thus, increasing the likelihood of success (e.g., engagement, adoption, task success).

Oftentimes, I take the following approach: What’s the minimum required to build a prototype that will yield feedback as quickly as possible? The faster a design is put into the hands of people, the more quickly success can be measured.

User Research

Research is also at the core of what I do. Understanding a customer through empathy is integral to communicating with that customer and providing a solution that solves their most crucial needs. I’ve found that the more a team invests in talking to customers, the better the team is at circumventing uncertainty, biases and confusion around the problem.

Moreover, the team is able to quickly identify key insights. In past roles I’ve utilized a combination of surveys, user interviews, guerrilla research and field research to observer customer behaviors, pain-points and patterns.


The ability to bring my designs to life has always been the ultimate goal. My engineering background started with front-end development. After mastering responsive HTML/CSS and JavaScript, I began to sharpen my PHP, Node and Rails skills. Additionally, I have experience building dynamic websites with CMS frameworks like WordPress.

More recently, my focus has been on mobile and iOS development, specifically writing in Swift 3.0. My engineering background allows me to bridge the gap between design and development as well as deeply understand the technical implications of a design.

Product Strategy

As a designer, it is my job to understand the intricacies of a business and balance business goals with user goals. Furthermore, measuring the success of product design is not only tied to user success but also business impact. Each decision made must factor in the inevitable evolution of the business. Well-defined metrics and analytics reports help guide these decisions. The trick is to apply tactics that engender improved decision-making over time.

I help companies tell their story and deliver real value with their products.

I’ve operated under a variety of roles leading design initiatives to solve complex problems at startups, large companies, finance, health, e-commerce, and agency to name a few.

Here are a few companies that I've worked with:

You can find me in chilly San Francisco or sunny San Diego depending on the time of year.