The TL;DR; of this post is that Michelle Schulp Hunt is joining Lone Rock Point as Director of UX Engineering and we can’t wipe the permagrin off our faces about it. Michelle adds her one-of-kind blend of UX design, front end software development, and WordPress expertise to an already amazing team of practitioners. We’ve got the kind of team Danny Ocean might put together if he stopped orchestrating casino heists and started implementing world class, enterprise grade digital solutions. I’m not kidding around. Find us by the fountains at the Bellagio. We’re that good.
But the story behind Michelle joining the team is a good one to tell. Michelle is the only person I’ve seen so clearly state “Independent” on her LinkedIn profile. She waves that status like a flag and has been firmly attached to it for a loooong time. Getting to this point took some time.
Closing the circle
I first met Michelle at WordCamp US 2022 in San Diego. There were about a half dozen Lone Rockers on the floor in a loosely formed circle having lunch. Michelle, by random chance (and twist of fate), decided to sit adjacent to us – kind of in our circle – easily joining our geek speak infused lunchtime.
The next day, I attended a session “Designing for the Block Editor.” At the time Lone Rock Point had started working on the rebuild of NASA’s website on WordPress so anything related to learning more about Gutenberg was in our critical path. Who walked on stage to give that talk? Unexpectedly to me, it was Michelle. We were also doing some recruiting at this WordCamp so when she introduced herself as an independent front end developer, I knew I wanted to stay connected and find an opportunity for collaboration.
That opportunity came a few months later when we began assembling the team that would be implementing NASA+ on WordPress. Michelle was one of the first people I reached out to to join that team, and join the team she did (as a freelancer), helping make the UX research and design come alive in WordPress.
From there, “kind of in our circle” was where Michelle stayed for a while. When the NASA+ implementation started slowing down, she joined the sprint to the finish with our www.nasa.gov WordPress implementation. Her eye for UX design details and ability to communicate visual design intention was something highly impactful in those final months leading to site go live.
After about 6 months of gently recruiting and suggesting she become a full time Lone Rocker, Michelle is joining us full time. I couldn’t be more excited. The circle is now complete.
“Michelle just fits. She gets us. I think we get each other.”
That’s a phrase I found myself repeatedly uttering as we got to know each other. Michelle’s cultural fit became pretty undeniable when she joined our company meeting in Chicago last fall. She even offered to pick some of us up at the airport!
More importantly, her fit as a subject matter expert and practitioner of UX design research, design thinking, and workshop facilitation were key. Those were areas we have great interest in but had been utilizing partners and freelancers to deliver on – we didn’t have someone who was part of the core team to provide leadership in those areas. With Michelle’s arrival, that leadership is in place, closing the gap between technical excellence and human-centric design.
In recent months, Michelle has begun to help NASA expand their design system with new components. She’s also made great strides bringing the design system to parts of the agency beyond their websites and mobile apps. Her collaborative process bringing stakeholders and viewpoints together to work together on the challenge has been a big part of the accomplishment. Accomplishments we look forward to her adding to as she expands upon and integrates her unique flair to Lone Rock Point’s human-centered philosophy.