Nico Staple

I'm Nico Staple, a designer based in Washington, DC and currently Senior Product Designer at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University. Previously, I co-founded and led the web development and UX practice for Mighty.

I use design as a framework to make progress on complex issues—creating digital and physical products and experiences across multiple sectors.

I'm also a craftsman. I'm able to translate abstract ideas into reality on the web (I can code), on paper (I can bind a book), and in three dimensions (I can cut things with lasers).

Send me an email if you'd like to start a conversation or keep scrolling for details on some of my work.

Additional Work

The Millennial App Suite

Hacked over a series of weekends and late nights, these web-based apps were built as personal projects to offer clean, minimalist interfaces to access data and services that are often over complicated.

WhichRide was conceived after the explosion of ridesharing services in DC. I found myself switching between at least four different apps to figure out the cheapest way to get across town at any given time of day. WhichRide ends all that by pulling in real-time ride cost estimates from Uber, Lyft, and Via and presenting the cheapest option with one-tap booking.

Transit Glance displays bikeshare availability and next train times for systems around the world in a text-based format. Designed for power users, the app focuses on getting riders the data that matters most for their commute: how many bikes are available, how many minutes until the next train.

Crossfade is software for the impromptu-dance-party DJ—the interface is comprised of two decks each with a YouTube player, search, and queue.

nWeather is a super simple weather app backed by Weather Underground's API that displays the current conditions for any location in the world.

Studio Design and Construction

In addition to co-designing Ethics Lab's strategy, mission, and operations, I helped to literally build the physical space that the Lab calls home on the second floor of historic Healy Hall on Georgetown University's main campus. Formerly an annex of the Bioethics Research Library filled with bookshelves and filing cabinets, my co-founder and I transformed the space into a flexible design studio—we built custom tables, whiteboards, and storage; laid new carpet; and created a unique and envied space on campus.

After seeing Ethics Lab, the director of Georgetown's Writing Center reached out to ask if we would take on the renovation of their space in heart of Georgetown's main library. The motivation behind the Writing Center renovation was twofold: to update an aging space and its aesthetics, and to re-center its functionality with the Center's expanded mission to serve more students and more media in the growing ecosystem of design-driven curricula at Georgetown. The Writing Center fits into a growing network of design spaces at Georgetown that I helped to establish. Physically, this network shares modular furniture, an industrial aesthetic, and a starkly different attitude than neighboring spaces. Conceptually, the network pairs design tools and methodologies with mentorship by content and medium experts to guide students through a collaborative design process.

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Teaching, Mentorship, and Workshop Facilitation

I've been fortunate to have inspiring teachers and mentors throughout my career and I'm happy to be able to pay that forward. While attending Boston University's Center for Digital Imaging Arts, I was a teaching assistant for user experience design classes. At Georgetown University, I instruct and mentor students on the design process and digital products in Ethics Lab classes. I also served as the lead design instructor for Ethics in Action, a year-long program with two high schools in New Jersey working on projects to tackle ethical issues surrounding food in their local communities. Additionally, I've facilitated design sessions and professional development workshops for Ethics Lab to further discussion on complex topics and teach others Lab methods.

Design Research and Print Layout

I've authored and co-authored reports and diagrams that distill research for larger teams and external stakeholders. Some examples are a context booklet for an Ethics Lab project to design best practices for clinical research with pregnant women, the launch booklet for Georgetown University's Design Across the Curriculum initiative, and a journey map for students in Ethics Lab's studio classes highlighting intellectual property touchpoints.

Standalone Digital Interactives

In addition to the larger scale projects I lead at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, I also work on one-off digital interactives. Prime examples of this are two maps I created: One captures the geographic diversity of the Institute's MOOC students using Google Maps APIs. The other tracks euthanasia regulations around the world using D3.js and GeoJSON data.

Complex Systems Integration

I led the technical integration of authenticated video streaming on NatGeoTV.com. Working with an internationally distributed team from Fox, Adobe, National Geographic, and many TV providers, I developed a custom integration of the Adobe Pass API to verify a user's entitlement to content simply and securely, allowing quick time to market, a more secure environment, and more readily accessible content. Although the site has undergone a visual refresh since my original implementation, the underlying code supporting authentication and video playback remains.

View Screenshots | Visit Site

Agile Web Development

Your Shot is National Geographic's photo community. I was part of the Agile development team responsible for implementing the site's redesign. Working on front-end development, I coded Backbone.js models to connect to a Django/Python backend, styled pages using SASS, and formatted screens using Bootstrap.

View Screenshots | Visit Site

WordPress Theme Design and Development

I have designed and developed dozens of bespoke WordPress website themes. Although WordPress was built as a blogging platform, I've found it to be the most flexible content management system available for clients ranging from law firms to yoga studios to academic institutes. I've engineered integrations to third-party services, built custom plug-ins, and coded customizable page templates from high and low fidelity mockups.

Visit these sites for examples of my WordPress work: The Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Ethics Lab, Bioethics Research Showcase, Biker Barre, The District Table.

Theatrical Lighting

For five years, I was a theatrical lighting designer and technician. Working in this high-stress environment honed my multitasking and troubleshooting skills. I staffed gigs ranging from hole-in-the-wall venues in DC’s H Street Corridor to the Lady Gaga concert at the Verizon Center. I left theatre with a passion for producing consistent, polished performances and products no matter the chaos behind the scenes.

I was employed by all major DC area theatre companies including: The Shakespeare Theatre, Arena Stage, The Studio Theatre, Signature Theatre, and IATSE Local 22 (Verizon Center, Warner Theatre).

Want more? Take a look at the time I was a centerfold model for a children's science magazine. Or the time I was briefly quoted in the Washington Post about Transit Glance after presenting the app at a Cabi Hack Night. Or the light show I created in college to Transiberian Orchestra music.