Digital Communications & User Experience Design Strategist

Expertise
UX design, information architecture, usability testing, requirements documentation, business analysis; web development, digital marketing, SEO, PPC, email, digital media, content marketing, WordPress; marketing communications, strategic planning; design, video, audio, photography, copywriting, presentations
Accomplishments
Selected Accomplishments

• Led digital strategy, research, information architecture, UX design and development for the complete revamp of westarenergy.com (large regional electric utility). The new site was named one of the top three U.S. utility websites by J.D. Power and Associates in 2015.

• Led the strategic and technical development of an online print management web application used by Toyota Graphics and Print Purchasing (TGPPonline.com). The tool is a key efficiency component in the workflow between Toyota Motor Sales USA (Toyota, Lexus and Scion) marketing, legal and regulatory departments, and TMS agencies and printers.

• Led strategic recommendations for enterprise marketing asset management system at Toyota Motor Sales USA, including stakeholder assessments, end user research and MAM partner identification/evaluation.

• Conceived, designed and implemented web apps/productivity tools to automate repetitive marketing processes for Sprint, resulting in an annual cost savings to the client of $100,000+.

• Chief information architect and user experience designer for KansasWorks.com career planning features, potentially saving the state $500,000 per year by replacing a SaaS contract with a custom-built solution.

• Created comprehensive global brand standards and worldwide extranet to allow Colgate’s Hill’s Pet Nutrition (Science Diet) marketing offices worldwide to share marketing best practices and advertising and sales materials.

• Designed and supervised the development of an in-store touch screen kiosk that achieved a 30% lower cost per new trier for Hill’s Science Diet within a key national retailer environment.

• Responsible for strategy and implementation of integrated online marketing programs (web, PPC, SEO, social media, banners) for CommunityAmerica Credit Union (cacu.com) that contributed to exceeding the client’s new account acquisition goals by 200%.

• Developed the strategy and tactical implementation for the complete revamp of the official Kansas Travel & Tourism web site, TravelKS.com, including integrated e-commerce and e-mail marketing. In the first year after launch the new site garnered a 29% increase in user sessions and a 9% increase in average time on site vs. the 12 months prior to launch.
Recommendations
Rebecca Stowe
Program Manager III Digital Marketing - Reporting & Analytics at Sprint

John is one of the most brilliant, patient and creative people I have had the privilege of working with. He brings a wealth of experience to his position and has an immense passion for all things advertising and digital. He has worn many, many hats within the agency so he also brings a unique perspective to his strategic leadership position. Specifically, he mentored me in website development, user experience testing, custom application/system development and was always an excellent teacher in the ways of Account Management. For certain, John has been a formidable force in my career development!

Brian Best
CEO at BestMacs, support that is Best For Your Mac-Powered Business

On some rare occasions you meet someone who challenges you. They aren't aggressive, but when you're in their presence, listening to them speak and hear their ideas, you challenge yourself to improve. That's JK to me. I can't count how many times I would brainstorm a technical solution for Callahan Creek only to hear JK share an insight that completely upended my paradigm. Often, it was some simple thing that I had overlooked - one of those items that when you hear it you say, "Of course; why didn't I think of that?!" Can you think of a more important quality for someone in marketing/branding to possess? After all, getting a consumer's attention these days means your message has to be very simple, but at the same time very powerful. I submit to you that John Kuefler is a master at this.

Joe Monaco
Associate Director of Communications at University of Kansas

It’s a pleasure – and frankly, an easy task – to recommend John Kuefler and his team at Callahan Creek. I’ve had the opportunity to work with John on a variety of projects, and in every instance, the process and outcomes have been outstanding. John takes the uncertainty out of projects. With John, you know you’re getting unmatched technical expertise throughout the process – from planning to implementation to post-project evaluation. But what really sets John apart is the way he manages his clients. As a client, I never felt like John and his team were just a service provider or only interested in today’s project. Rather, I felt like they were our partners and that they cared about my organization’s long-term health and strategic plan. Bottom line: John is as good as it gets. I’d wholeheartedly recommend him and Callahan Creek to any organization looking to improve its strategic communications.

Scott Allegrucci
Beyond Coal Campaign, Senior Campaign Representative for Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska at Sierra Club

John possesses the skills, temperament, and even the voice that any passenger hopes for from a pilot on a long trans-continental flight through challenging weather. All are equally important for a client working with a contractor to provide critical and special services, especially when the client is a public-sector agency subject to intense scrutiny and political whims (the situation in which I worked with John and Callahan Creek).
Beyond his significant and flexible skills specific to digital communications and creative planning and interpretation of client needs, his clarity and acumen with regard to overall strategy, integration of communication components, and cost-to-benefit considerations are exemplary and always conveyed in that reassuring and considerate context.

Martha Bartlett Piland
President/CEO at MB Piland Advertising + Marketing

John is one of the very few people who can think brilliantly with both sides of his brain. He brings great creativity to sound thinking - and does it all with a smile. I have also always valued John's high integrity. He's a great friend and a great mentor to others. It is a pleasure working on a team with him.

Kathy Busch
Director of Communications and Annual Giving at Washburn University Foundation

I worked extensively with John during my tenure at St. Francis. John is one of the most creative people I've ever known. He inherently understood every project and delivered fantastic results. His recommendations and follow through were always right on the mark. John is the best and I highly recommend him and Callahan Creek.

Troy Griepentrog
Senior Associate Editor, marriage topics and Thriving Family Magazine at Focus on the Family

John was my supervisor for several years. He is among the most rational, balanced and sincere managers I have known. His insights are amazing, and he’s definitely an “early adopter” of new technologies, always staying right on the cutting edge. I have the utmost respect for John. He’s one of the people I try to emulate in my professional life.

Christopher Butler
Chief Operating Officer at Newfangled

In working with John and his team at Callahan Creek on two projects over the past 6 months--the redesign and build of their own website as well as a website for their new business unit, Sophizio Printing Strategists--I have been impressed with his deep industry knowledge as well as his sophistication in design and interactive matters. John is a clear and thorough communicator, able to hone in on the smallest detail without losing sight of the big-picture--a strength that shines especially bright in long-term design and development projects. I have been impressed by his thoughtfulness and generosity with his time and insight, and look forward to a long relationship between Newfangled and Callahan Creek in which his role will no doubt be central.

Virgil Scott
Consultant & Coach

John and I worked together from 1985 to 1994. For many years now I have referred to John as one of the two most logical minds that I have ever been around. He always had a keen sense for cutting through all of the clutter that all of us wade through in our daily challenges, and seeing with clarity the opportunities that simply lie right before our very eyes.

Dan Hohman
Partner, Bosco-Hubert & Associates – Fluid Power Recruiter

John was instrumental in helping launch my business--he was exciting to work with and fascinating to observe. His ability to bring ideas from a napkin, and put them into action are beyond words. He has a unique creative ability to analyze a business objective, then put together a marketing strategy to grab the customer's attention...and hang on to it! Every single prospective client was won as a new customer using John's ingenious marketing plan. I highly recommend John for any business looking for new growth and a fresh approach.
Brands
Selected Brand Experience

Some of the brands I've worked on include: American Century Investments, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Capitol Federal Savings, Case IH, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Colgate/Hill's Science Diet, CommunityAmerica Credit Unions, Eli Lilly/Elanco, H&R Block, Kansas Department of Commerce, Menninger, Nylabone, Payless ShoeSource, Price Chopper, SC Johnson & Son, Royal Canin, Schroeder & Tremayne, SCL Health System, Sprint, Tenneco Automotive, Toyota Motor Sales USA, Tyson Foods, University of Kansas Athletics, Wisconsin Natural Gas, Westar Energy
Awards
AAF (American Advertising Federation) 9th District; IABC (International Association of Business Communicators); J.D. Power and Associates; The Telly Awards; PIA (Printing Industries of America); Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association; Silver Microphone Awards; National Composition Association; American Gas Association Public Relations Awards; Kansas City Direct Marketing Association; Wisconsin Associated Press Photographers Association; Milwaukee Ad Club; Milwaukee Society of Communication Arts; Racine Ad Club; Simpson Papers; French Paper; Strathmore Paper Gallery; Spangler Masterpiece Awards; numerous creative awards as well as the Silver Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Topeka Advertising Federation (AAF)
Employment History
1997-present: Callahan Creek, Inc.
Offices in Lawrence, KS and Torrance, CA
65-person advertising/marketing agency
• 2010-present: EVP, Chief Digital Officer
• 2006-2010: EVP, Digital Strategy and Media Integration
• 2000-2006: VP, Director of Interactive Services
• 1997-2000: VP, Creative Director

1982-1997: Admark, Inc., Topeka, KS
• 1988-1997: Creative Director
• 1985-1987: Promotion Division Manager (now Kid Stuff Family Marketing)
• 1982-1985: Creative Director

1981 The Professional Advertiser, Inc., Topeka, KS
• Advertising agency
• Managing Art Director

1980 The Denver Post, Denver, CO
• Advertising Designer

Young-jk

You have no idea how things that happen to you as a child will shape your life. If you’re a parent this thought is pretty scary, but as a kid you just soak it all up. One of the zillion things that happened to me as a child was spending time in my grandmother’s darkroom. She was a professional photographer when such pursuits were rare for women.

My grandmother was already old when I was young — and she had been a professional shooter for many years. She had boxes of glass negatives that I wish I had now. I was fascinated by the big old cameras, the darkroom with the erie glow of its safelights, and mostly the magic of images appearing in trays of smelly chemicals that were seemingly conjured into existence from nowhere. And I guess it had a magical affect on me. All through primary and secondary school I loved photography and art of any kind.

Fast forward to adult professional life. I started my career as a stripper in Racine, Wisconsin. That’s the truth, but it’s not what you are thinking. So don’t make the mistake of Googling “stripper” to find out what I mean, I’m talking about a film stripper. While I was still in school studying graphic design, I got my first “real” job at a commercial printing company’s pre-press department. I used an enormous camera that shot 20×24 inch film negatives of “camera-ready art,” developed the film in a darkroom (see, it was in my blood) and “stripped” the negatives in place, ready to burn to lithographic plates for the printing presses. In addition to offset printing, the company also did commercial screen printing. I was excited about that because I loved fine arts screen printing and it was a way for me to learn all kinds of new things.

Mostly what I learned in my job as a printer was craft. Everything was done by hand. I learned what pixel-perfect meant before there were pixels. I have always considered the communication business a craft – to me it’s still the same today. I don’t really feel very far removed from the people in ancient times carving symbols on stone tablets. There’s an element of art and craft to it all.

compugraphic_7500One thing led to another and before you know it I was running the Compugraphic computerized typesetting operation at that same printer. It was the new frontier of what would later be called the desktop publishing revolution. From there I went to work for an ad agency in Racine, then as an advertising layout artist at the Denver Post, on to another printing company and finally to a couple more ad agencies in Kansas. The last of them I co-founded — and is where I am currently — Callahan Creek.

I love visual communications and I love solving problems with design. In my younger days I thought I was meant to be a photographer, printmaker and graphic designer. Then I moved on to being an advertising art director, creative director, film and video director. Over the past 20 years or so — since they very early days of the internet — I’ve been focused on the web and all forms of digital communications. In my current position at Callahan Creek I’m responsible for developing and producing digital marketing for clients — UX design, websites, email, online advertising, content marketing, marketing automation, search marketing, social media and emerging technology. I have relished reinventing myself over and over as each of those transitions occurred — curious by nature, I love to learn new things.

Meanwhile, as my career went through its evolutions, all the really important stuff in my life was happening. I was blessed to marry my dear wife, Vicki — a smart, talented, beautiful, deep-thinking woman who has been the best friend I could ever ask for. Together we’ve been blessed with a wonderful family. In many ways they have all been partners in my career with their support (and toleration!) of all its challenges and demands. I am so grateful for them all.

In the last several years I’ve explored the area of user experience design on a much deeper level. Something about UX just clicks for me, like all the pieces of a puzzle going into place. I can see that as I look back on how I approached design before the internet even existed. I love how the complex parts of a digital project go together as I try to make them as simple and intuitive as possible.

bus-about-pageProbably the perfect example of that from my earlier, pre-internet years is the bus schedule I designed for the Racine, Wisconsin, transit system. If there is anything that can cause people confusion — and maybe stress if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere — it’s trying to decipher a mass transit schedule. Designing that transit schedule so that it was as simple and easy to use as possible was a challenge that I took on with the same kind of passion that I have for my UX projects today. In 2011, I put some formality behind my interest by earning a UX Certificate from Rutgers University Advanced Technology Extension.

Ultimately after all these years in the advertising and marketing communications business, I know that a lot of what we do in this field is just not all that important. In fact many times I think our work doesn’t add enough positive value to our culture and society as it should — and can. We don’t cure cancer or stop crime or solve poverty and homelessness — although we certainly can help those who do those things communicate about it and promote their work.

To bring all that down to a much more mundane level — the level of the average person’s daily life, I believe that there is a lot of good I can do as a UX professional. Many years ago I heard a speaker say that it’s the accumulation of little frustrations that can sometime send us over the edge. He said something like, “You read about ordinary people in the news who snap after they break a shoelace.” We are bombarded with so many messages, so much new technology, so many things to learn and remember, so much overload on every front. Today, maybe some of our broken shoelaces are websites and apps that don’t work well and just drive us nuts.

I love making things work better so people’s lives can be just a little less frustrating every day. An awful lot of our time — in our professional lives and more and more our personal lives — is spent staring at a screen of some kind. I think it’s important for UX designers to stand for the something — and that something is really a someone: the user. And as I am prone to say, the user should not be thought of as an anonymous faceless person. The user is your mom, your child, your spouse, your best friend (and not the client or site owner, the account manager or creative team). Someone needs to stand up for the user. So that their lives can be a bit less frustrating. So they can accomplish their screen-related tasks faster and easier — hopefully to be able to get away from the screen sooner and enjoy some IRL time.

John Kuefler

If you share that passion for UX, you may enjoy some of my blog posts. Take a look and add your comments — I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’m sure that with the pace of change accelerating all the time, there will be plenty of reinventions ahead. Here’s to the future of trying, in some small way, to make the world a better place.