(n). an online playground to cultivate social responsibility, advance consumer awareness, and engage with community.
As the nature of this work is confidential, I won't be able to show the majority of project visuals for the time being. Read on for a general description of the work I've done, along with a glimpse into some select research.
UX & Product Design
December 2019 — February 2020
Picture this: It was the last week of November 2019, and I was looking forward to three weeks of vacation planned throughout December and January. I sit down with my CEO before heading out for Thanksgiving, and he asks if I'd like to seize a rare opportunity to produce an exploratory design concept for a major client. I would have 12 weeks to come up with something revolutionary, and then I would present it to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Was I game? I couldn't have said "yes" fast enough.
My mandate for this project was to define a novel growth channel: to shape new environments, methods, and motives for the purchase of goods. The product had to incorporate the concept of social. I dreamt up an internationally-accessible service, adaptable to any regional market, with unique content offerings that are created exclusively for the platform.
As a concept, I wanted to capture the notion that, “this is not a tech product -- this is a lifestyle product,” a mantra drawn from The Five Ways Peloton Weave Community and Content Beautifully. I also thought deeply about what social means to me. Reading about how the digital revolution turned a promise of community into disengagement and how the brand consultancy FNDR helps companies find their voices, I wanted to rehabilitate the idea of community within today’s cultural landscape. If social engagement was to be part of this new digital product experience, we needed to tell a story about the brand’s social awareness.
My countdown to project completion began at 9 weeks. I spent four weeks defining the business requirements, conducting research about the problem space, defining the user and brand identity, and synthesizing my findings into user stories. Here’s a brief look into some of what I generated.
I had uncovered vital core truths about my user from some intense data gathering and synthesis, and it was time to let myself loose by drawing freely, allowing my thoughts to flow from questions to answers and back to questions, eventually morphing into a skeleton of core experience features and functionality. I captured these in iPad Paper sketches, exploring structural patterns and narrowing down component templates.
Five weeks left before the executive presentation: It was time to transition to wireframing. I landed upon a set of 32 wireframes to translate user stories into high-level layouts and flows, using a block format to keep myself from getting mired in too many details. As I worked through revisions, I jumped back to sketching when I needed to more rapidly explore design options. I constantly revisited the three design principles that I had identified in my project brief:
Reduce: achieve simplicity through thoughtful reduction.
Be transparent: each element has a purpose; each action has an obvious result.
Make it physical: help the user feel textures, temperatures, and sounds.
Three weeks left before the executive presentation: I began adapting my block wireframes into high fidelity mockups. I tracked my progress on finished screens within the user stories sheet, capturing new thoughts and crossing ones out as I moved closer and closer towards the ideal visual representation of my customer's end-to-end journey. I sweated through major overhauls and hammered away at constant iterations, shifting my focus to fine-tune interactive details as I neared the finish line. 400+ artboards and five iterations later, I created a clickable InVision prototype with hotspots across 104 screens to walk the CEO through the Virtual Store's story.
It's almost time. The CEO was confirmed for the call, with the CTO, too, as a last-minute addition. As preparation, I revisited all of my design research to draft a five-minute opening to my production. I wanted to lay a clear foundation for why I approached the design this way and what I aspired my audience to take away from the experience. I wrote out some key thoughts on the project mandate, the design solution, product goals, and the bottom line, which I then combined into a walkthrough script with core messages to emphasize for each set of features.
Half an hour later, it's over.
I emerged from the presentation with plenty of feedback: what didn't make sense, what to improve, what to emphasize more, and the home run ideas I had impressed upon the CEO. The 15-minute show and tell that I had been told to plan for ended up becoming one of the most stimulating 30-minute design critiques of my career thus far. I received a clear message that my design concept successfully communicated a radical view of what could be possible, and I was invited to do another presentation the following week to the full executive committee.
Through designing the Virtual Store, I've challenged myself to level up my professional and personal growth as a writer, creator, and storyteller. While this project is currently on hold due to shifts in business priorities stemming from COVID-19, I'm hungry to take another leap forward in the near future.