Presentation at UXPA International


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About Me

Bob Thomas is Founder and Principal of Bob Thomas, User Research Consultant, LLC.

Previously, he was Director of User Research at Liberty Mutual Insurance, where he worked for 11 years establishing a user research team, expanding best practices around usability testing and customer research, and scaling user research within the organization.

His background includes user research, usability testing, design thinking, service design, graphic design, and product management. He is a frequent presenter at international and local user experience events.

He is currently President of UXPA (User Experience Professionals’ Association) Boston and is the Mentoring Lead for UXPA Boston Conferences. He holds an MBA in Marketing and International Business from Suffolk University, and an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University.


  • Created a co-located user research team of 10 user research practitioners responsible for all digital-facing applications and websites
  • Championed the accessibility practice for the organization, improving usability for all
  • Promoted Lean UX research methodologies for 40+ Agile squads, reducing design time and increasing speed to market
  • Refined study methodologies to include in-person and remote interactions with customers, leading to increased quality of results in desktop and mobile applications
  • Paired qualitative with quantitative research and analysis, providing visibility into trends
  • Created communication methods to share study results, which increased transparency in design decisions
  • Facilitated design thinking workshops, including customer interviews, persona and journey map creation, and prototyping and brainstorming, which improved quality and consistency of design solutions

He has specific expertise in improving the design and usability of products by emphasizing actionable, high-value aspects of the user experience:

  • Working with executives to identify business objectives and product development needs
  • Leading cross-functional teams, with a focus on user-centered research and design thinking
  • Evolving a customer-centric, Agile way of working
  • Supporting the delivery of best-in-class customer experiences
  • Advocating for UX engagement and adoption
  • Strengthening UX operations and culture/li>

Professional Experience

Founder and Principal, Bob Thomas, User Research Consultant, LLC (October 2019 – present)

Partnered with companies lacking knowledge in the areas of user-centered design, resulting in bottom-line improvements to both online self-service for their customers and usability of their desktop and mobile websites and applications.

  • Created and led design thinking workshops and design sprints
  • Created and led workshops on how to conduct user research interviews and usability tests
  • Created and ran large-scale quantitative benchmark studies
  • Created and ran usability tests, card sorts, and tree tests

Director of User Research, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Boston, MA (June 2008 – October 2019)

Started as an individual contributor in user experience and built a team of 10 user research practitioners. Championed usability research and testing, and elevated the profile of user experience in U.S. Consumer Markets. Furthered the “user experience” mission among all levels of the company. Focused on big picture thinking and key findings.

  • Directs, manages, and leads a user experience team
  • Mentors team members
  • Defends recommendations to management and stakeholders
  • Designs and conducts usability tests, analyzes results, and recommends actionable changes
  • Runs usability tests on all platforms and devices: desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile
  • Conducts in-person qualitative usability tests and large-scale quantitative usability studies
  • Facilitates design thinking workshops
  • Develops personas, journey maps, and service design blueprints
  • Performs accessibility reviews within WCAG 2.1, AA guidelines for websites and apps
  • Leads focus groups
  • Develops and analyzes card sorts
  • Writes heuristic (expert) reviews
  • Designed a usability lab
  • Created a usability wiki with all readouts and presentations

Research Associate, Design & Usability Center, Bentley College, Waltham, MA (Jan. 2007 – May 2008)

Improved the usability of applications by ensuring that products were easy to use, safe, satisfying, and profitable.

  • Performed heuristic evaluations (expert reviews) of clients’ websites, and prototyped alternative designs
  • Moderated usability tests, analyzed test results, and developed recommendations
  • Performed web accessibility reviews within Section 508 guidelines for websites and applications
  • Wrote test plans, moderator guides, surveys, and questionnaires
  • Developed user profiles and personas
  • Developed prototypes, including wireframes and screen mock-ups
  • Summarized test results for clients, relying on qualitative and quantitative analysis
  • Partial client list: Autodesk, Demandware, Historic New England, the New York State Department of Health, Partners Healthcare, Razorfish, Siemens

Director of Product Management, Bitstream Inc., Cambridge, MA (Aug. 1999 – Jan. 2007)

  • Collaborated with marketing and engineering teams to launch font-rendering and text-composition solutions that served as cornerstones of the company’s product lines
  • Presented to international digital TV standards’ organizations for successful adoption of a font technology solution
  • Worked successfully with the People’s Republic of China over a three-year period to receive certification for a technology solution that met government standards
  • Led teams and collaborated with engineering, QA, and marketing to manage product releases
  • Developed product requirements documents and business cases, based on research as well as feedback from sales staff and customers
  • Conducted competitive research analysis and positioning. Identified key product features and functionality that drove revenue growth
  • Gave presentations at industry events and to C-level executives


Master of Science, Human Factors in Information Design

Bentley University, Waltham, MA
Key Courses: Business Process Management, Field Methods, Foundations in Human Factors, Information Architecture, Negotiation, Prototyping Theory and Practice, Statistics, Testing and Assessment Programs

Masters of Business Administration

Suffolk University, Boston, MA
Majors: Marketing and International Business
Awards: “Highest class honors”; “Outstanding academic achievement”
Honors: Beta Gamma Sigma

Masters of Fine Arts, Creative Writing of Fiction

University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, MA

Bachelor of Arts

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

Graphic Design Certificate

Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Groups and Associations

  • President, UXPA Boston (User Experience Professionals Association, Boston)
  • Mentoring Lead, UXPA Boston Conferences
  • Boston CHI (Computer Human Interaction)
  • SIG CHI (Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction)
  • UXPA International

Presentations, Panels, Papers

Podcast, 97 Things Every UX Practitioner Should Know, O’Reilly, November 2021
“Bring Rapid User Research Methods to Agile Teams”

Published Article, 97 Things Every UX Practitioner Should Know, O’Reilly, June 2021
“Bring Rapid User Research Methods to Agile Teams”

Presentation, International UXPA, June 2018
“Building a UX Brand”

Presentation, International UXPA, June 2016
“Faulty by Design: A Psychological Examination of How Our Decisions Are Guided and Made”

Published Case Study, Successful User Experience: Strategies and Roadmaps, Morgan Kaufmann, September 2015
“You Can Build a Successful UX Strategy, But Not in One Day”

Published Paper, HCII (Human Computer Interface International), July 2013
“Merging Methodologies: Combining Individual and Group Card Sorts”

Presentation, HCII, July 2013
“Merging Methodologies: Combining Individual and Group Card Sorts”

Presentation, International UXPA (User Experience Professionals Association), June 2013
“Five Arguments Against Focus Groups – And How to Overcome Them”

Published Sidebar, It’s Our Research, Morgan Kaufmann, November 2012
“Visual Survey Results”

Presentation, International UXPA, June 2012
“Five Rules for Mentoring New User Experience Professionals”

Panel, International UXPA, June 2012
“Building Out a User Experience Team: Making User Experience Relevant Companywide”

Panel, International UXPA, June 2011
“Dangerous in the Wrong Hands, or Power to the People? (How Many Users Should You Test?)”

Presentation, Boston UXPA (User Experience Professionals Association), June 2010
“From Card Sort to Redesigned Intranet Site: A Success Story”

Presentation, Boston UXPA, May 2008
“The Convergence of Usability and Web Analytics”

Presentation, Boston UXPA, May 2008
“Physical and Online Card Sorts: A Practical Overview and Case Study”

New England Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Annual Meeting, November 2007
“Designing for Intelligent, Predictive, Adaptive Text Input on Mobile Handsets”