Spring 2014 – Summer 2015

540 Days of Agile

Establishing a new design scrum team in a big organization can be challenging. Working closely with different stakeholders and understanding their perspectives helped us continually improve our process.
Establishing a new design scrum team in a big organization can be challenging. Working closely with different stakeholders and understanding their perspectives helped us continually improve our process.

My role

I teamed up with a project manager to create scrum design team. As the design lead and scrum master, I led a team of 3 in-house designers, 7 agency designers and developers through all phases of the design process.

Our goals were to deliver a quality design fast to market and iterate design based on test and learn. While focusing my time on shipping quality design work, I also worked with the product and feature owners to create and prioritize user stories.

It’s also important to stay nimble and constantly experiment different ways to streamline workflow, in order to efficiently support our scrum teams and ship great products.

Process refinement workshops; Organization share-outs of scrum team structure and workflow; Tools we created to help the team to work more efficiently.

Shipped 143 user stories

During our first year and a half in agile, we completed and shipped 143 user stories, ranging from small to medium size product enhancements including simple content updates, bugs fixes, feature updates to improving the existing UI and interaction design. This scrum design work stream enables us to accomplish business goals while improving usability and extending our product value.

Account Dashboard redesign to support self service and decrease customer service call volume of account balance inquiry

Make great things, not decks

At the beginning, we produced a lot of decks to convey our concepts to our stakeholders; however, we learned that formal decks and presentation isn’t effective in the agile environment, as things move quickly and no one has time to sit through a presentation. They would rather look at the design recommendations, make a decision and move on to the next thing. Moving away from formal documentation, we can focus more on making things to solve the design problems.

The Impacts

The work we shipped helped to increase customer engagement and decrease call volume, driving down our operational cost. We also contributed in the achievement of the 2014 company goal, to improve customer satisfaction rating.
The work we shipped helped to increase customer engagement and decrease call volume, driving down our operational cost. We also contributed in the achievement of the 2014 company goal, to improve customer satisfaction rating.

Fall 2014

Tax Season’s Here

People without bank accounts have limited options to receive and manage their tax refunds. Our goal was to provide a convenient alternative, while generating revenue through users spending their refunds with their cards.
People without bank accounts have limited options to receive and manage their tax refunds. Our goal was to provide a convenient alternative, while generating revenue through users spending their refunds with their cards.

My role

I was the lead designer responsible for 6 employees across two teams—in house developers and an agency of experience/visual designers.

I lead design strategy and direction and closely collaborated with a cross-functional team consisting of 20 internal stakeholders across business, marketing, product, customer service, portfolio management, customer life cycle management, controls, and technology.

We created a service journey and cross-channel communication map based on input from our stakeholders and users, to ensure coherent communication across all channels

Identify user needs is crucial

By analyzing past customer complaints and data collected from 2013 tax season, we realized that it was important to clearly communicate the relevant information users needed at multiple touchpoints during tax season. This helped us define appropriate communication channels and create informed design decisions along the process.

To define those touchpoints, we set up multiple workshops with stakeholders to acquire knowledge from different areas of the business, and to form a full picture of our users and their behaviors. We then worked with our content strategist to produce a content strategy to address user needs.

We produced low-fidelity sketches to outline design concepts and worked with our stakeholders to select a final direction

Visual design variations to explore layout, content types, and graphical treatments

User test and iterate

We held two rounds of user testing, to collect insights about their previous experience with tax filing, and how our content can be better shaped to fit different user types. In addition, we received great feedback on usability, which helped us shape the final design.

Make sure it works

Besides crafting the UI and content, our ultimate goals were to enable users to successfully receive their refund and to clearly inform them throughout the process. We worked with the back-end processing and transaction team to craft a notification system, where users would be emailed or messaged upon the receipt of their tax refund. This requires a recognition of funds-in activity from different parties, including federal, state and third-party tax preparers.

Performance

Compared to the tax load of $106 millions from 2014, we generated $300 million dollars of tax load after launching the design. We also acquired 100,000 new users, compared to our initial goal of 75,000 and contributed to a drop in call volume regarding questions about tax filing.
Compared to the tax load of $106 millions from 2014, we generated $300 million dollars of tax load after launching the design. We also acquired 100,000 new users, compared to our initial goal of 75,000 and contributed to a drop in call volume regarding questions about tax filing.

Fall – Winter 2014

Design Better Emails

We send out roughly 588 types of servicing emails to our users everyday. The goal of this project was to reduce the email types into a set of consistent templates and content structures, thus lightening the load for our tech team. Since the majority of our users access our servicing emails with their mobile devices, it was incredibly important to design a template that could scale across different devices and email clients.
We send out roughly 588 types of servicing emails to our users everyday. The goal of this project was to reduce the email types into a set of consistent templates and content structures, thus lightening the load for our tech team. Since the majority of our users access our servicing emails with their mobile devices, it was incredibly important to design a template that could scale across different devices and email clients.

My role

As an experience and visual designer working alongside with a content strategist, front-end developer and project manager, I created a fluid layout design with a style guide, including color palette, typography system, and UI components. I also collaborated with the developer to generate the design in code and device test the template.

Email usage report our developer generated and a competitive audit of email templates

A great collaboration

It was a great collaboration with my team from the creation of the content framework to the delivery of a responsive design. We began our project by conducting research and audit on content strategy, technology and visual design approach. We then used the findings to yield a set of guiding principles.

Our content strategist reading through the 588 servicing emails; A sample of our guiding principles

Understand user concerns

Our customer insight team conducted a qualitative research involving a group of 12 prospects. The participants thought that the template design appeared “corporate and bossy”. They were also unclear about the reason they received the email. A majority of users expressed that they wanted to call customer service after reading the email.

The old and the new version of the card activation email. This is one of the first interactions we have with users, once they registered online making it important to improve its content and design

Visual design at full throttle

I started my design process by making typographic explorations, a color palette, brand exercise and a moodboard. I applied the new set of content components while our content strategist prepared and stress tested a few layout variations. Beside being clear and concise, we also wanted it to feel “human.” I researched and experimented with ways of applying tactility to the design. With the goal to generate a lightweight template with a limited amount of images, I developed a tile pattern that can be used to achieve the tactile effect. After utilizing CSS based visual elements, the email template started to take shape. After a couple more rounds of review with the stakeholders, I defined a few branding components and extended the design to other brands.

The latter half of the design phase is heavily informed. This was achieved by working with the developer directly to test out solutions, tweaking visual treatments in code, and refining the final design.

The Impacts

Our servicing email team is in the process of migrating the old email templates to the new design we produced. So far they’ve successfully reduced it to 177 unique emails - a 70% reduction. It is estimated that our new email template design can save the company $500,000.
Our servicing email team is in the process of migrating the old email templates to the new design we produced. So far they’ve successfully reduced it to 177 unique emails - a 70% reduction. It is estimated that our new email template design can save the company $500,000.

Spring 2014

Design Principles

As the design team expanded and our product continued to evolve, we found our two-year-old design principles to be outdated. We needed a new set of principles to guide us making design decisions and delivering quality design. They should also act as criteria for new and evolving features, while ensuring that these features stay true to our core vision.
As the design team expanded and our product continued to evolve, we found our two-year-old design principles to be outdated. We needed a new set of principles to guide us making design decisions and delivering quality design. They should also act as criteria for new and evolving features, while ensuring that these features stay true to our core vision.

My role

As the design lead and visual designer on this project, I worked with a designer at the beginning of the project to synthesize research, identify key metrics, and also led workshops to draft the content of the principles. I then finalized the principles with a content strategist and created the visual system that yielded a set of deliverables. I also took this on a roadshow to share the output with the rest of the company.

Poster design for office distribution

Product and user insights are the keys

In order to make great principles, we must thoroughly understand the research and insights the team has uncovered in the past years. These learnings ranged from business goals and metrics our company wanted to achieve, to responses from our users through user journaling study and customer service phone calls. We synthesized these learnings and generated a set of inputs for the creation of our principles.

It’s a team effort

The value and success of design principles manifests in 2 ways:

- The quality of work generated by the design team
- How effectively the team and the rest of the company evaluates designs

Participations of all design team members and partners is important to the creation of these core criteria and implementing them throughout the design process. We hosted a 2.5 hour-long workshop to ask our participates to generate ideas by using a set of inputs we prepared, and to vote on the best ideas.

Synthesis and refinement

Principles should be broad enough for use across different scenarios. At the same time, they should be specific enough that you can measure any particular design decision against them. We included clear description of the principle, the business goals it can drive, and instructions or examples of design activities one can use to achieve the goal.

Make it tangible and approachable

I interviewed fellow designers and partners from other teams, to brainstorm ideas for the ideal formats of the deliverables. My fellow designers wanted something physical that could be hung on the wall, during a design meeting or work session. Partners from other teams wanted something they can interpret well enough, to be able to use during their meetings or writing up user stories for their backlogs. Some also suggested a poster format, so they could send to other offices. These are all great ideas, and not surprisingly, I implemented all of the above.

Influence

After a number of company roadshows and demos, other teams started to use the principles in design reviews. The principles helped our team to evaluate design work more effectively. Through the use, we identified several areas for improvement and continue to iterate on the design and content.
After a number of company roadshows and demos, other teams started to use the principles in design reviews. The principles helped our team to evaluate design work more effectively. Through the use, we identified several areas for improvement and continue to iterate on the design and content.

Summer 2015

Easy Access to Cash

ATM machines are available at every street corner in the city, but it’s the opposite for those who live in a small town. Additionally, daily withdrawal limit per machine is generally lower than the amount our customer needed to withdraw. By partnering with Walmart and Ria, we can provide a cost-saving, convenient and secured way for users to withdraw their money at their stores nationwide.
ATM machines are available at every street corner in the city, but it’s the opposite for those who live in a small town. Additionally, daily withdrawal limit per machine is generally lower than the amount our customer needed to withdraw. By partnering with Walmart and Ria, we can provide a cost-saving, convenient and secured way for users to withdraw their money at their stores nationwide.

My role

I was the lead designer on this project and worked closely with a visual designer, project manager, front-end developer, and a cross-functional team of 20 plus stakeholders from Ria, Walmart, marketing, product management, technology, business development, legal, compliance and risk. I led all phases of design including research, service design blueprint creation, user testing to legal review and collaboration with Walmart and Ria representatives to ship the product.

A snippet of our epic tasking board. Designer and developer in action

The real use cases and pain points

After being briefed about this project, there was a big question mark hanging above my team—why are we doing this? What is the unique experience we can provide to our users? In order to gain some clarity, we went out to two Walmart locations to experience the current money transfer services they offer, to observe and speak to both the shoppers and store representatives, and to experience the environment firsthand.

Gather insights and analyze opportunities through field study synthesis, competitive and adjacent industry audit

Service blueprint

We took that learnings along with the technical research on the API, to create an insightful service blueprint. We used the document to plot out the key service moments where we anticipate the occurrence of customer pain points. Those are also the moments where we identified as a hand-holding opportunities, to make a positive impact to how users interact and perceive our product and service. With such a diverse group of audience, this artifact is useful for vision alignment and making sure their needs and concerns are addressed.

Service blueprint and logic map is a great companion for communicating a holistic view of how both front and back end operate throughout the service journey

Sketch, prototype, and repeat

We held a number of sessions to sketch out concepts and vote for the best ideas with our key stakeholders and developers. We experimented with micro-interactions and animations in keynote, before partnering with web and mobile developers to refine the details. It’s important to deliver a seamless and reliable product which can also bring joy and satisfaction to users through interaction.

User feedback is gold

Throughout our design phases, we held multiple user testing sessions. Received valuable inputs which helped us refine our design and guided us in making design decisions. We were lucky to have a front-end developer in those sessions, where we could modify and update the code in response to user feedback, and test out other approaches on the fly.

Insights and ideas generated from one of the testing sessions. They were extremely useful, especially for validating our design intents when reviewing work with our stakeholders

Learnings

The biggest challenges of this project were the changing requirements and new information from our partners and product team. We constantly had to work around those constrains, especially the ones from legal and compliance teams—since money transfer service is highly regulated by the federal government. There were many lessons learned about communication and producing the right artifacts to move the project forward.
The biggest challenges of this project were the changing requirements and new information from our partners and product team. We constantly had to work around those constrains, especially the ones from legal and compliance teams—since money transfer service is highly regulated by the federal government. There were many lessons learned about communication and producing the right artifacts to move the project forward.

2007 – 2009

Oldies But Goodies

A collection of graphic design work I created in the past which reflects my personal interests and things I found inspiring. The work include print, illustration, icon, and installation design.
A collection of graphic design work I created in the past which reflects my personal interests and things I found inspiring. The work include print, illustration, icon, and installation design.

LA Metro

Like many of my fellow designers, I’ve long admired Massimo Vignelli’s work. My admiration led me to intern at the Los Angeles Metro Studio. The range of work is diverse since the in-house studio supports many different service needs at the transportation authority. My involvement included assisting senior designers and lead designer to create outdoor ad campaigns, rail and bus ticket design, subway timetable and map redesign, and station signages.

Signage Design Standards

In the effort to create a standardized graphics system to generate consistent design, experience, and a united brand voice across different channels. I led the project to create a series of schematic drawings to illustrate user touchpoints and the usage of different signage types. This is a helpful reference to both designers and staff who are in charge of signage installation. I learned that it’s important to conduct field study to observe user interaction with the wide variety of signages and rider communication.

Hidden Messages

What if a fence can talk and what will it say? By attaching pieces of leftover pallets collected from a shipping company, the letterforms were created.

Through the use of the sunlight as my medium, the piece became dynamic, appearance of the letters changed during the day (eg. Roman around 11 to 12, Italic around 12 to 4). So remember, GO AWAY during these hours.

Imaginary architecture

I have been fascinated by nomads since I was a kid. I once dreamed about living a nomadic life in places that is inhabitable, such as Antarctica and the Sahara desert. I began to sketch out some ideas of creating a modular housing system that can withstand different harsh conditions. The system needs to be portable, easy to set up, and doesn’t leave any negative environmental impact.

Inspired by the work from Archigram and Super Studio, I began to explore the ideas of using fiction, storyboard, photomontage and exhibition to build an imaginary architecture. My ideas take form as an exhibition booth, building manual, and a magazine to promote the nomadic life style and instruct users how to build the structure.

Icon Design

I’ve always been amazed by the intricacy of the Japanese food models (the fake plate of sushi made with wax that used as window display of a restaurant). That inspired me to use icons as a medium to express high level of detail while embracing the constraint of dealing with limited real estate in the pixel space.