SalemSystems is a design research firm
located in Santa Cruz, CA.

Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 824-4558

Anita Salem


I’ve been a design researcher ever since my first usability study. The term was not common then, but that’s what I was. While others were focusing on testing new products against a set of requirements, I wondered about those requirements. I wondered if they were realistic. I wondered if they were appropriate, I wondered if they delivered the desired effects. When working on a project, I’m interested in looking at who, how, and why. Especially why. And after several decades of doing research and design across different domains, I finally realized that the reason it is so hard to describe what I (we) do is that the work has evolved over time. Even though the focus is always on the intersection of people and change, the object shifts. I started in psychology, then went into technology, then into human factors (which blended the two). I’ve worked on the design of information, then systems, then organizations. The official story is that I “work in the public and private sectors helping organizations improve stakeholder engagement and socialize new processes, policies, and technologies.” I do this by guiding conversations towards strategic goals, by helping organizations and leaders understand the zeitgeist of their strategic efforts, and by identifying common themes and interests and then turning all of this into actionable recommendations. Really though, I do this by asking other people “who, how, and why” How fun is that?

There’s also an official Bio and CV.


SalemSystems partners with a number of organizations helping their customers deliver high quality processes and products:

NPS Design Thinking Community
The NPS Design Thinking Community is a group of faculty, students and staff who share the goal of making NPS the center for creative and human-centered problem solving for the military. They invite students, faculty and staff of all disciplines to learn design thinking as a methodology that empowers them to collaborate across disciplines to tackle the military’s greatest challenges.

Design for Context
Design for Context, LLC is a consulting firm specializing in usability and user experience design. They have a strong track record of turning concepts and recommendations into user interface designs that work, drawing on their knowledge of user interface design patterns and a strong foundation in human-computer interaction. Their expertise in the design of interactive applications and search user interfaces is one of their key strengths. Their projects range from quick expert reviews to large, multi-year transactional systems analysis and design projects. They build long-term relationships with their clients and scale their services to meet their clients’ needs. Founded by Lisa Battle in 2006, Design for Context is a small, woman-owned business based in Columbia, Maryland (near Washington, DC and Baltimore).


Anthro-Tech is a user-centered design consultancy focused on government agencies, nonprofits and enterprises with a social-impact mission. They use a rigorous, data-driven and highly collaborative approach to user-experience consulting and user-centered design that includes: Strategy, user research,iInformation architecture and conceptual design, user-interface and interaction design, usability testing and evaluation, and training and mentoring.

Source Leadership
Source Leadership is a consulting firm that assists organizations in managing the process of proactively implementing strategic change.
Kathryn Aten
Kathryn is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School and teaches strategic management and conduct research. Her research explores how people evaluate, select and use technology. She is particularly interested in how interactions between multiple levels of culture and technological artifacts influence the evolution and use of technologies. Kathryn is currently studying these topics in the context of virtual world and blogging technologies. Prior to her academic career, she worked for Apple, Patagonia, International Game Technology and Ralston Foods.