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About Cia Romano

Founder, Interface Guru

Cia Romano, Interface Guru Cia Romano is an investigator of user behavior and interaction with digital products. Her expertise includes digital strategy, facilitation, user experience research, usability, human-computer interaction (HCI), and science communication. She has been awarded grant-based projects for US Federal agencies including:

The Usable Times 5™ criteria

Interface Guru's proprietary metric, Usable Times 5™ was developed by Cia in 2000. It is based on the A&O x 4 (Alert and Oriented Times 4) rubric used by medical professionals.

"User-centrism is a form of social justice. Enlightened leaders in business, sciences, healthcare and the public sector understand that users will always have the last word."

Cia has trained hundreds of people in the fundamentals of user experience at industry conferences and workshops, beginning in the late 1990s. She has been a featured speaker at the Smithsonian-sponsored Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums for several years, and has provided training to top brands such as National Geographic, Popular Science, and Kiplinger's via the News Media Alliance. "My greatest professional satisfaction comes when I know my company has had a positive impact on people's daily lives. I look for the teachable moment in UX."



Member: American Evaluation Association


Work in media, business, government and nonprofits:
TV Guide, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Playboy, IEEE Spectrum, Crain's Pensions and Investments, Crain's Modern Healthcare, Penton Media, Kiplinger Washington Editors, Canyon Ranch, the American Society of Magazine Editors, MPA, Clickability Inc., National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Trex Company, Visit Orlando, Visit Tucson, Go Daddy Software, Classic Residence by Hyatt, The Sharper Image, Lifetime, Old Farmer's Almanac, Arizona Lottery, Farm Journal Media, City of Tucson.

Work in sciences, engineering, education, and museums:
IEEE, IEEE Publications Operations, IEEE Access, Proceedings of the IEEE, IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Technology and Society, Columbia Business School, The National Museum of the United States Air Force, The Higher Learning Commission, VEECO, the National Lightning Detection Network, Shedd Aquarium, Mystic Aquarium, Chicago History Museum, Monument Systems, Tucson Medical Center, City of Tucson, Tucson Water, Tucson Electric Power, University of Arizona Libraries, UA Science.

Selected projects funded by science grants

Common Fund Data Ecosystem (CFDE), 2021 - 2022
Granting Agency: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Description: The Common Fund Data Ecosystem (CFDE) aims to enable broad use of Common Fund (CF) data sets to accelerate discovery. The CFDE has created an online discovery portal that helps make Common Fund data sets FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable). The portal enables researchers to search across data sets to ask scientific and clinical questions from a single access point.
Services: Usability testing, user interface mitigation, color values for data visualization

Rebuilding A Kidney (RBK), 2020 - 2021
Granting Agency: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Description: The RBK Data Repository houses curated data and tools generated by the RBK consortium. All data and tools in the repository are searchable and accessible via web-based interfaces, REST APIs, and program libraries.
Services: Usability testing

GenitoUrinary Development Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP), 2020 - 2021
Granting Agency: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Description: A consortium of laboratories working to provide the scientific and medical community with curated data and tools to facilitate research; includes a molecular atlas of gene expression.
Services: Digital strategy, usability testing, user interface design
Partners: University of California Viterbi School of Engineering

Northwest Passage Project/Inner Space Center, 2016 - 2019
Granting Agency: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Description: Northwest Passage Project. An Arctic expedition designed to explore and document conditions in the Northwest Passage while training college students on the conduct of research. The Inner Space Center (ISC) conducted live broadcasts from the Arctic during the expedition, connecting the world to oceanographic exploration projects in real time.
Services: Digital strategy, usability testing
Partners: Exploratorium, Smithsonian Oceans Hall, and the Alaska Sea Life Center

Cosmo Quest, 2013 - 2017
Granting Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Description: A new citizen science community focused on STEM education.
Service: Committee member, digital strategy, information architecture, user experience training, usability testing, evaluation plan

Inner Space Center, 2010 - 2014
Granting Agency: National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Description: The Unknown Ocean. Extending the work of Titanic discoverer Dr. Robert Ballard, The Inner Space Center (ISC) utilizes telepresence technologies to connect the world to oceanographic exploration projects in real time.
Artifacts: Touchscreen kiosk, website, controller for Exploration Command Station theatre program
Services: Digital strategy, usability, information design
Custom services: Storyboard for the Exploration Command Station, Ocean Exploration aquarium gallery design plan, project planning
Partners: Mystic Aquarium, South Carolina Aquarium

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), 2008 – 2015
Granting Agency: National Science Foundation (NSF) and LSST Corporation
Description: The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will produce an unprecedented wide-field astronomical survey of our universe using an 8.4-meter ground-based telescope. The National Research Council for the National Academy of Sciences ranked the LSST as its top priority for the next large ground-based astronomical facility.
Artifact: Website
Services: Digital strategy, information design

Zooniverse Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (Zooniverse CDI), 2010
Granting agency: National Science Foundation (NSF), in conjunction with Adler Planetarium and Oxford University
Description: The Zooniverse is a pioneering online citizen science framework based on the work of astrophysicist Dr. Christopher Lintott, who pioneered the GalaxyZoo project. Zooniverse now provides a reliable platform for citizen science projects in many fields of study.
Artifact: Website
Services: Usability testing

Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting, 2010
Granting agency: The Providence Journal Charitable Foundation, the A.H. Belo Corp., and the Philip L. Graham Fund
Description: The Metcalf Institute promotes clear and accurate reporting of scientific news and environmental issues.
Artifact: Website
Services: Digital strategy, information design

Ocean Today, 2008
Granting agency: National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with the Coastal Education Learning Centers
Description: First deployed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and evaluated at Shedd Aquarium, Ocean Today provides an interactive kiosk where users can directly experience multimedia content about the world’s oceans.
Artifact: Touchscreen kiosk
Services: Usability testing

Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Observing System (MARACOOS), 2008
Granting agency: National Science Foundation (NSF), in conjunction with Rutgers University
Description: MARACOOS’s mission is to seek, discover and apply new knowledge and understanding of our coastal ocean while extending that knowledge to “end users” – people whose livelihoods depend on the oceans.
Artifact: Website
Services: Usability testing

Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence – Networked Ocean World (COSEE NOW), 2008
Granting agency: National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Description: COSEE Networked Ocean World (COSEE NOW) is an online network of scientists and educators focused on using emerging Ocean Observing Systems (OOS) technologies and data.
Artifact: Website
Custom services: Onsite Workshop ‘Best Practices in Developing Web Communities’

The Biodiversity Project (Great Lakes Forever), 2006
Partner: John G. Shedd Aquarium
Description: Great Lakes Forever is a public education initiative involving media outreach, educational advertising, point-of-experience signs at lakefront areas, and web-based outreach to inform and inspire action to restore and protect the Great Lakes.
Artifact: Website
Services: Usability analysis

Phoenix Mars Mission, 2005
Granting agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in conjunction with the University of Arizona
Description: Launched in August 2007, the Phoenix Mars Mission was the first in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)‘s Scout Program, and found further evidence for the existence of water on Mars.
Artifact: Website
Custom services: Pro-bono website evaluation


Founder and Senior UX Strategist, Interface Guru/SymbolGroup Inc.
Tucson, Arizona
December 1999 – present
Principal of UX consulting group; digital business strategy and development, audience research, project management, information architecture, usability testing, and visual design. Developed Usable Times 5™ metric for fundamental usability analysis of Web sites. Educator and advocate for user-centered marketing and digital design, creating curricula for national conferences.

Chief Information Architect and Design Officer, Results Direct
Tucson, Arizona/Alexandria, Virginia
November 1998 – December 1999
Senior staff for Web design and development group specializing in nonprofits and associations based in the greater Washington, DC area. Responsible for all information design and primary visual design, online courseware development, client contact, end-to-end project management, writing of proposals and contracts, and public speaking.

New Media Specialist
StarNet/Tucson Newspapers Inc.
Tucson, Arizona
October 1997 – November 1998
Senior staff in charge of all corporate-level Web accounts. Wrote proposals, developed online marketing strategies, and created visual design for large projects. Project-managed the first webcast of the Jerry Lewis telethon for MDA in 1998.

Design Development Manager
Phoenix, Arizona
December 1996 – October 1997
Managed all design projects for the Phoenix branch of the world’s first consulting-level Web development company.

Webwrangler/Associate Art Director
Arizona Highways Magazine/Arizona Department of Transportation
Phoenix, Arizona October 1994 – March 1997
Launched Arizona Highways Online, one of the first 300 dot-coms, in 1995 with early e-commerce implementation.

Education: BA, 1983, New College


  • Editor, FutureProof, a blog of the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology, 2019 - 2021
  • On-Air Fundraiser, National Public Radio/Arizona Public Media, 2020 - present

Facilitating success since 1999

Businesses, nonprofits, and US federal agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have relied upon Interface Guru's evidence-based methodologies for over 20 years.

Interface Guru clients: NASA, Lifetime, Crain, AGWeb,
				Pima Air & Space Museum, TV Guide, Smithsonian National Air and
				Space Museum, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Visit
				Orlando, Athletic Business, Cosmopolitan, NOAA, Playboy,
				Investment News, IEEE, IEEE Spectrum, IEEE Robots, Tucson
				Electric Power, Columbia Business School, Zooniverse, Canyon
				Ranch, Apriva, ASAE, University of Arizona, Seventeen, Discover,
				The Higher Learning Commission, Mystic Aquarium ASME, Kiplinger,
				Pensions & Investments, LSST, Arizona Lottery, MPA, NSF, The Old
				Farmer's Almanac, Chicago History Museum, National Museum of the
				United States Air Force, Syracuse University Newhouse School of
				Public Communications