I led this redesign of the most heavily trafficked page in Capital One Investing's self-directed trading platform. I drove the collaborative process that determined our objectives, conducted research that clarified customer needs, delivered designs, and guided implementation.
I planned and led a Google Ventures style Design Sprint that identified customer needs, set our goal, and the product vision and roadmap.
As a new employee, I was determined to hit the ground running. Having worked in groups with a fair amount of turnover before, and knowing the organization had recently experienced layoffs, I made sure that the project moved forward on the best of the work that the existing team had performed. So, I conducted User Tests on both the existing version of the site and designs that had previously been created by another designer. I included the entire team in the work of unpacking this research, which on short order had to be done over multiple lunches. Together we learned about the mindset and priorities of the customer.
Capital One Investing used Design Sprints for innovation. Although most of the specific practices were familiar to me, the idea of a 5 day schedule concluding with testing was new for me. I dived in by reading Jake Knapp’s book several times. The Product Manager had joined the team two months ahead of me, also from Amazon. Initially he was uncomfortable with the idea of dedicating so much time to this. I worked with him to understand his concerns and by looking at what was outlined in his one pager, I explained how the activities would support his objectives, and described the deliverables he could expect.
I planned the Sprint meticulously, posted the agenda on the wall, and used a Time Timer to keep things on schedule. I assigned team members to conduct competitive analyses, to present and also lead activities throughout, which resulted in high engagement and also freed me up to participate to a greater degree.
The outcome was that we came up with a long term vision that aligned the immediate work with our long term mission, and we learned directly from customers how our early approach resonated with their immediate needs.
We learned from the tests at the end of the Design Sprint that customers were hungry for what our long term vision enabled. We also learned several things that didn’t work so well. As a result, we turned our focus to creating the minimum viable product that supported the form factors and modularity needed to enable this experience.
I explored and refined the designs through many rounds of feedback across multiple teams (the product team, design team, other disciplines, and larger organization). Once everyone felt good about where we were headed I ran usability tests for both desktop and mobile and addressed all the issues that were found.
I performed an exhaustive analysis of the Capital One’s brand guidelines and similar products. Then I explored a broad range of possible interpretations of the company’s look and feel, internally known as One Design.
I took feedback on this work from other Designers inside Investing and in the Enterprise team. The selection was narrowed and reviewed with the dev team, the technical PM, and the Product Manager. Together we landed on the one design that everyone was excited to build.
As a Designer with a strong technical background and a continued interest in client-side code, I always strive to partner closely with engineers for the long haul of the work. This project was no exception.
I frequently attended standups and often set-up to work alongside the dev team, which was located on a different floor and on the opposite side of the building from my desk.
They helped me install bootcamp and configure the production environment on my laptop so I could access the source-code and better understand the constraints they faced.
While a number of the engineers used Sketch, and could access my final specifications directly, I also used a plug-in called Measure to deliver fully inspectable assets. I was in awe as they brought the work to life with pixel-perfect accuracy. I also accommodated necessary changes as it progressed.
The author page existed when I joined the team but was very dated. The goal of this redesign was to elevate the social aspects of the page while keeping the author's books central to the experience.
As the UX Designer for the redesign of Author Pages, I produced multiple concepts, got alignment across teams, designed comps, prototyped the experience, and ran light-weight usability studies.
When I started working with the Author team, the process was linear with design functioning as a service. Initially I built credibility and influence on the team by reacting quickly to requests and working hard to provide many options to empower the stakeholders to make good decisions in the absence of qualitative customer data.
What you see below is the culmination of a long term effort to bring in Design Thinking methods. I also leveraged examples from work I conducted with other teams at Amazon during the same time which operated with greater flexibility around process and presented earlier opportunities for User Research.
The outcome was a successful redesign that significantly elevated the Follow feature, Amazon's most reliable lever for selling new releases to dedicated fans.
In the earliest rounds of exploration, I used hand drawn sketches to rapidly collaborate with stakeholders while using the low fidelity of the work to convey the stage of the work. I used a combination of written copy and suggestive lines to focus attention and ensure that the ideas in the work came across.
A rule I'd previously learned came in very handy on this project; to design with "content first", that is to lead with your best attempt at copy that is representative of what will be in the real thing.
As we moved into medium fidelity design comps, the priority from the business was to significantly enhance the various media and social content on this page. The request was to make the page "on par" with social experiences available elsewhere such as Facebook and Goodreads, and to function as a content aggregator for the different services as well as our own.
I was concerned that this focus would push down the author's books and would negatively impact sales on a page the moved millions of dollars worth of books every month.
After gaining access to data on the author media that was available, I learned that a small number of authors had more than one photo or video shared and that many of them did not connect their other social feeds to their page. While I embraced our goal to improve these stats, I also made a major push to incorporate the author's book covers into the top of the page in all of the design options I produced. This strategy, of including a large visual bibliography, was well received by the engineering team, the business stakeholders, and the executive product owner.
As the design progressed and plans for prioritizing the work onto the developer backlog approached, I learned from my Product Manager about the importance of the Follow feature, which enabled customers to receive emails whenever an author released new books. Of the emails that were opened over 80% converted to purchases, a rate unheard of for email marketing. We decided to move this feature to the most promenant location on the page, under the authors photo, and experimented with many variations of button treatments and different calls-to-action.
While I received valuable feedback from teams across Amazon at this point, I was concerned about launching such a critical and massive update without conducting any User Research. With no resources available, I set up a table in a highly trafficked public area and offered Amazon employees donuts for participating in adhoc user studies using prototypes I built and basic screen recording. These Guerrilla Tests were extremely valuable in working out the details that made the Follow feature a big success.
In additional to multiple functional prototypes (including for tablet and mobile, which were deprioritized during my time on this project), I delivered detailed redlines and design specification documents.
Going into this project my manager had identified that guiding work into the development pipeline was a major challenge we faced. The goal was to leverage my strong technical background to improve this process.
Long before my work reached the backlog, I began attending daily standups. This helped me to understand the scope and complexity of their work, which touched many different systems throughout the company.
I also made a point to join them often during their afternoon coffee runs and to camp out in their area for a couple hours every day, especially when they were developing the Author Pages. This resulted in many rapid iterations getting handled in side-conversation and avoided wasting time in meetings.
Ultimately, the redesign was a success. Although sales attributed to this page initially declined, the decisions to emphasize the Follow feature and put long term growth ahead of short term results won out.
I joined the team after the launch, when the focus was on growing the community. My work was aimed at improving user activation, enhancing story discovery, and increasing community engagement.
Another goal was to improve the overall look-and-feel and general professionalism of the site.
When kicking off new projects, I led brainstorming and affinity diagram exercises to identify themes, which I used to form the team's design tenets.
Recruiting from the site's members, my Product Manager and I planned and conducted user interviews. We captured insights from the interviews on post-it notes, used an affinity diagram to identify themes, and used these to verify and inform our tenets.
This helped align the whole team around our approach. Though everyone didn't always agree, this gave us a common language to discuss design decisions and helped us stick to an agreed upon vision.
Good design tenets are clear and actionable, capture both the "what" and "how" of the more subjective aspects of a design, and account for the unique business and technical challenges of a project.
I visualized concepts first in low-fidelity wireframes. Early on in a project's design phase, I did so collaboratively with my Product Manager and Developers using whiteboards or paper and pencil.
Then I created many variations rapidly on my own in Axure or Sketch. I reviewed this work in many rounds alternating between my design team and the product team to select leading approaches and iterate forward on those.
When the design matured, and got executive approval, I proceeded to medium and high-fidelity designs while planning usability tests and their supporting prototypes.
Early in a project's design phase, I used Axure to try out simple interactions while still working in wireframes.
Then I discovered a technique using script injection to prototype directly on the live site, leveraging real user-generated content.
This worked on desktop but not mobile, so both approaches were employed to support usability testing, with code shared between them.
I worked closely with my Product Manager to write test plans, recruit participants, schedule sessions, and conduct many rounds of user tests. I got input on our test plans from a User Researcher on another team, and split the remaining research efforts with my Product Manager approximately fifty-fifty.
Each session consisted of two parts. The first part was an open-ended interview, designed to learn about the user goals, the current experience, and their thoughts on the problems we were solving in the abstract. The second part was focused usability testing aimed at task completion, efficiency, and identifying issues. This allowed us to optimize our efforts so that each study produced ethnographic insights, measured user interest in what we were building, and provided design validation and opportunities for improvement.
I delivered user flows, specifications, and redlines on a number of features that accomplished the design goals.
The "feature banner" that I created is now the primary way stories are discovered on Write On. It also serves to provide site messaging and facilitates community activities like the "Weekend Write-Ins", which we learned from our interviews is our strongest driver of user activation. I also introduced "Story Shuffle", which enables discovery of lesser-known stories. "Notification Feed" and "Your News" drive both story discovery and community engagement.
I also oversaw the implementation of a visual design refresh, incorporating the work of an outside design group. Compare this first screen below, labeled "BEFORE", that shows what Write On looked like when I joined to the next screen, labeled "AFTER", which shows the latest updates I was responsible for.
When I started this concept was defined in designs that offered customers early access to books to ensure reviews and a search ranking ahead of the release. While the business value was clear, there were questions around whether customers would understand the details of the discount that applied to their selection of only one out of four titles that were offered for a limited time each month.
I was brought in to build a prototype for the web experience, which identified a number of content and usability issues which would have interfered with customer's understanding and use of the promotion. These were corrected, then I created wireframes and designed comps for the eInk experience shown here.
This was an independent exploration that I did on my own for fun during the excitement when wearable technology was new and unknown. I generated the concepts, sketched wireframes, and designed the comps.
These sketches were created on paper in two passes, first in pencil and then in ink. The approach taken here was quite different than that demonstrated in my other projects, especially Investing Research, Author Pages, and Write One. In those projects a large number of very rough sketches were used to develop concepts while managing and eliminating ambiguity in collaboration with my team. However, for this project I was working alone and was racing to capture a vision. I include this here to show my range and demonstrate that while following an iterative creative process is important, there are circumstances where it's appropriate to quickly proceed into synthesis.
This also is a good example of an important principle I always strive to follow of starting with content first, visualizing concepts in their earliest form with copywriting that makes the ideas and intent of the design as clear as possible. I revised the writing and designs in each pass as I went from pencil, to ink, and then to pixels.
In my research for this project I'd learned about the MagicBand; Disney's custom wearable tech that tracks guests' locations at Disney World. The designs below assume a future where these bands work in combination with your iPhone and Apple Watch to:
This is an example of the Working Backwards process, an approach used at Amazon, which starts at a very high-level by envisioning an ideal experience from the customers' perspective. What is actually being invented here is a business model, which touches on technology with front-end and backend systems as well as manual processes and systems. This method makes it possible to rapidly evaluate the value proposition of such a model very early on and with minimal investment and risk.
As the Designer at a small startup, I was responsible for conceptualizing and building the user interface.
I came up with the concept, designed the interface for web and mobile, developed the iOS native prototype, and presented the work while interviewing for a potential role in the Nordstrom Innovation Lab.
This was developed in XCode 4 as a first-time exploration of Objective-C and Storyboards in InterfaceBuilder.
As a UX Designer and Client-side Developer on a small incubation team at Microsoft Research, I was responsible for adapting Dotastic to the Windows Phone design language as well as implementing all of the native code in XAML and C#.
I was a member of an agile team, participated in daily scrum meetings, owned the experience, closed out bugs, and shipped to the Windows Phone Marketplace.
As the sole creator on this independent project, I was responsible for the concept, design, development, and quality control.
This was the most sophisticated of 3 apps that I independently released to the Windows Phone Marketplace, leveraging the devices camera and location services as well as the Facebook Graph API.
As a prototyper supporting usability studies, I produced interactive game-pad driven interfaces using Adobe Flash that simulated the UX for the dashboard, in-game messaging, marketplace, video chat, and the in-store KIOSK.
I also participated in heuristic reviews, quality control, and provided UX recommendations.
On a small team of consultants, I developed an Adobe Flash based platform for rapidly prototyping. I built prototypes used in concept demonstrations and usability studies.
I also worked on-site with the client helping them to leverage the platform, and supported development of the device UI and product quality control in HTC's Mode9 and Lua.