I help teams design the right product, for the right people, at the right time.
I worked on improving the customer experience at Amazon's first brick and mortar stores. I designed mobile experiences, in-store kiosks and desktop experiences for our unique customer - college students. I designed several products for the Campus team, some of which are not yet publicly released. I'll update this page as soon as I can.
UX Design, UI Design, prototyping, usability testing, user research, usability testing, storyboarding, wire framing, microcopy and copy writing, UX specifications and redlines.
Photoshop, Sketch, Flinto, Axure
Customers who use our pick up locations need a convenient way to return their Amazon purchases. Because we offer our customers a unique "in-store" experience, our customers expect us to process returns in our pick up locations - just like they expect return services at a retail store.Business Opportunity.
As a team, we recognized the importance of accepting returns at our locations. Our current solution allowed customer's to return items, but it meant a lot of manual work for our in-store associates.Strategy.
> If we could seamlessly integrate our pickup locations (CPP's) into the existing Amazon returns system, we would allow our customers to work within a framework they were already accustomed too, while leveraging existing technology to reduce manual associate effort. Further, we hypothesized that integrating our Campus Pickup Points into the return system would drive more traffic to our locations - a huge win for visibility of our program.Design.
After establishing the strategic direction for the new returns process, I partnered closely with the Campus tech team, as well as the Amazon Returns Team to understand limitations on integrating our locations into the greater Amazon ecosystem. Because the returns process flow was not going to change in order to accommodate our pick up points, I needed to work within a predetermined system. Where I would normally start with lo-fi sketches and wireframes, it was faster and easier to use files that already existed to prove concepts - editing text, buttons and adding content to clarify the new experience.
In the US, dropping off packages to a physical location in order to return them to Amazon is a new concept - we needed to find a solution that clearly communicated the new option to our customers, without fundamentally changing the existing system. Finding a design that didn't impact the established returns process was key to the success of this initiative. I designed the new returns process for our mobile - web platform first - our Campus customers (mainly college students) overwhelmingly favor mobile devices. After establishing the mobile design, I worked to update the web design.
Multiple iterations (with both my product manager and tech team) brought us to the final design of the new returns process. On the first day the new returns process launched, we saw 835 customers select a CPP from the list of return locations. One week from launch, we saw 3,617 customer select one of our pick up locations as a return location - before launch our weekly average was 432.
The current experience of picking up a package from one of our pick up locations is clunky, especially for first time users. Anecdotally, I heard from team members that customers were often confused, or worse, panicked when engaging with our pick up experience for the first time. Our pick up points offer student's a solution to multiple pain-points of campus life - but that solution was getting lost in a less-than friendly user flow.
In order to better understand and address this problem, a usability study was conducted on location. There were several takeaways from the study, but the confusion around an email alert and overall number of steps to successfully pick up a package impacted our customer's experience the most.Strategy.
After getting the results of the usability study, I did an audit of the existing customer experience. The check in process was long, redundant and wordy - students were asked no less than three times if they were ready to pick up their packages. Other usability issues arose as well - call to action buttons that didn't stand out, confusing micro copy and a countdown timer that incited panic all added to the less-than-ideal experience. I presented my audit, and immediately realized I was walking a fine line.
Though stakeholders agreed that the existing process was less than ideal, it was, at least, working. There was fear that a change would disrupt the established process, and that students would be more confused than ever. In order to combat user confusion, team had implemented non-technical solutions to aid first time users. Directional signs in the stores, additional staff, and tutorial videos on how to use the store. I was able to convince leadership that a change was necessary (after all, any experience that needed a video was probably too complicated). I assured them that everything would be tested before launch - we wouldn't run the risk of implementing a flow that risked the business without getting data to back it up.
After getting the blessing from stakeholders to move forward, I set my sites on two goals. First, I wanted to reduce the number of steps a first time customer had to take in order to successfully pick up a package from our CPP's. Second, I wanted that customer to be confident in their task - reducing the overall feeling of confusion and anxiety currently experienced when interacting with our experience for the first time. I would measure these two goals by asking customers if they understood what would happen after they pushed specific buttons, how confident they felt that their belongings would still be in the CPP when they were ready for them, and if they would use the service again.
I started by attempting to reduce the number of screens a customer would need to interact with in order to complete a pick up successfully. The original experience showed a customer 5 screens at minimum, the customer needed to make an unexplained choice on 3 out of 5 of those screens. Making so many choices, especially without the mental model of the CPP, was a lot of cognitive load for our users. Further, the current experience requires our customers to read - a lot. The designs lack clear headings - users are not sure what the call to action is. I created sketches to communicate my ideas to the operations, legal and tech teams. I wanted to understand the impact and feasibility of my design choices before moving toward anything higher fidelity.
Because I had buy in on the new flow from stakeholders, creating wireframes and eventually higher fidelity mocks was less time-intensive process than it could have been. I created several iterations, paying special attention to copy. The first point of contact for first time CPP users is generally an email alerting them that they have a package waiting for them at the CPP. The intent of the email is to encourage the customer to start the pick-up process when they are ready - they enter the experience from the email. I recommended future work to include a link to the pick-up flow from the Amazon navigation bar - "my orders" is the place customer's reported looking for a pick up code. Though not included here, the campus team is moving toward using "my orders" as an alternate ingress point to this process.
After agreeing on the basic flow and copy of the new experience, I explored multiple visual treatments. The team was divided into two camps - delight and surprise our customers with fresh visual design vs. stick with the trusted Amazon brand guide. Ultimately, we collectively landed in the middle of the poles with a clean, minimalist design that maintained the trustworthy Amazon brand.
The new pick up flow was tested with first time users at a CPP site. Users reported feeling confident in the new pick up flow - removing screens did not cause the confusion stakeholders feared. Because the new pick up flow removed arbitrary choices from the user (would they rather pick up at the desk or locker? Are they sure they want to check in?), they expressed a higher level of confidence and clarity around the pick-up flow.
The new pick up flow was slated for development, but circumstances (the campus team pivoting) forced the flow to the back burner. The next iteration of our campus pick up flow will include the flow I proposed for this project - it complements the next big move by Campus nicely.
I worked as the Designer in Residence at General Assembly - creating and delivering UX Design lectures, partnering with UserTesting.com to offer hands-on learning experiences, and creating a user research and testing curriculum and criteria. In partnership with the Regional Director, I designed and created a website that allows potential clients to learn about General Assembly's pro-bono UX offering.See the live site.
UX Design, UI Design, user research, wireframing, copy writing, HTML/CSS.
General Assembly is an educational institution that offers full-time immersive programs, long-form courses, and workshops in business, technology and leadership skills. GA is a global company that operates 14 campuses across five countries.
General Assembly offers a full-time, immersive program for user experience designers to gain valuable career skills. A key element to this program is the opportunity to work with clients on real projects. Though GA is successfully growing in Seattle, the applicant pool for pro-bono projects was not as diverse or exciting as it was in other markets. The quality of GA's programming lies in the hands-on, real world experiences student's gain from the immersive. The opportunity to work with real clients is invaluable to the education (and portfolios!) of potential students. The Region Director was looking to improve and increase the number of applicants to the pro bono program.Strategy.
GA is a rapidly growing startup, which means the staff wear a lot of hats, are stretched thin, and are looking for solutions that streamline and expedite processes, while maintaining the best possible experience for our students. The course producer is responsible for recruiting, vetting and educating potential pro bono clients about the opportunity to work with General Assembly students - but the existing process was antiquated and time intensive. We were looking to design a solution that communicated the offering and allowed applicants to apply online, while building trust and credit in the Seattle tech community.
Though the Seattle market needed a solution quickly, other smaller GA markets suffered from the same problem. Potential pro-bono clients didn't know what GA was, who they designers were, and what skills they could offer. Clients were often uninformed about UX design in general - they didn't see the value of a UX team devoting three weeks to a product. Even if clients were eager and excited to apply, the existing system was an email address and a google document.
The timeline of this project was quick - I had 1 week to design and build a fully functional site. The intent was to create something that solved the current problem well enough that the GA global team would immediately understand the value and prioritize the new functionality. Because of the tight timeline and cross-market use case, I built the site in Square Space so course producers would be able to quickly and easily maintain site content.
I created quick sketches of personas, and validated as I went. The average user was busy - startup founders or nonprofit leaders. Though they were possibly adept at the tech scene, they were not necessarily knowledgeable about UX. Because I was designing in Square Space, I created wireframes based off a template that would be easy to modify to suit my needs. After validating and understanding the needs of the stakeholders (while maintaining and communicating the needs of our users) I designed the site.
The new site allows potential clients to easily learn more about the pro bono opportunity, and understand potential deliverables and outcomes. Having an online presence dedicated to the pro bono offering builds trust with potential clients.
In addition to informing clients and building trust, I designed the site to address the current pain points of course producers at GA. Clients were often uninformed about the opportunity, UX Design in general or about the commitment required to participate in the program. This caused course producers to spend lots of time explaining, babysitting or escalating issues with clients before it became a problem for students. Having an online application and agreement formalized the process and gave course producers a leg to stand on when dealing with these issues.
I designed the site in accordance with GA's brand, voice, and tone guides, making custom CSS edits where necessary.
After launching the site, the Seattle GA office saw a huge increase in quality applicants for the pro-bono program. The course producers reported an easier time recruiting participants - they now only need to send out a link to the URL and wait for applications to come to their inbox. After seeing the user need and business advantage to a pro bono application site, the General Assembly Global team is currently designing and developing an official version.
Amazon Campus is a program that puts Amazon pick up points on or near college campuses. The Campus program is Amazon's first foray into brick and mortar locations, offering our team huge opportunity and challenge. Our pick up points straddle a unique combination - fulfillment centers that need to work efficiently for our associates and customer facing locations that represent the Amazon brand. I designed systems for the Amazon associates who work in our pick up points. My goal was to build systems that increased efficiency, while making the work day of an associate less frustrating. I believe (and advocated) that well-designed systems for our associates would ultimately empower them to improve our customer's experience.
UX Design, UI Design, prototyping, usability testing, usability testing, wire framing, microcopy and copy writing, UX specifications and redlines.
Photoshop, Sketch, Flinto, Axure
Customer Problem. The associates who work in the back of house at our CPP's use a specific application to ensure they deliver customer packages to the right locker when a customer comes to pick up their stuff. When our internet goes down in a CPP however, that tool no longer functions. Offline Mode is an emergency tool associates can use when they lose internet connection at a CPP. This type of tool is especial crucial when a CPP goes offline during a busy time (back to school, for example).
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. Amazon is publicly customer obsessed, and part of that mantra is earning the trust of our customers. Creating a tool that allows associates to continue delivering packages even when a CPP went offline was a crucial business objective because our stores can fulfill customer needs without interruption.
Solution. Offline Mode is meant to be a quick and efficient solution - it uses downloaded customer data to ensure associates can still deliver packages. Normally, customers would scan a pickup code at a locker, the locker will pop open, and they can pick up their things. If StoreApp is down, customers are directed to check in at the desk, where an associate can look them up manually in Offline Mode.
DESIGN. I initially assumed Offline Mode would be accessed from a desktop computer, the current manager dashboard at our stores is designed for a desktop experience. After starting design and digging for more information from our operations team, I learned that associates preferred the tool to work on mobile. They are carrying around the scanners they use anyway, and wanted to shift into Offline Mode if necessary.
It was important to our business team that Offline Mode allowed associates to make accurate updates after the store went back online. Because of this need for accuracy, Offline Mode has more checkpoints than the more efficient StoreApp. It was also important to guide associates through the experience of Offline Mode. Because they are power users of a different delivery and tracking application (StoreApp), I didn't want them to see similar interface and revert to their Store App habits. Offline Mode won't allow them to scan (for example) and they have to manually check boxes that they would otherwise not need to worry about.
Offline Mode was created in one sprint, without the user testing I would normally hope to do. Leadership requested a quick and dirty design solution in order to ensure we were prepared for upcoming launches. After iterating on several wireframes and lo-fi mocks, I delivered in-depth redlines to our development team.
I worked extensively on our back of house tool, StoreApp, to improve the experience of recording, delivering and troubleshooting package pick up. Much of contribution to the functionality of StoreApp will not be released until later this year, I will update this page as soon as I can.Business Opportunity.
Because StoreApp was a back-of-house tool, it hadn't been seen by many designers before I started working on it. The general feeling was, put all the design resources on stuff customers are going to see. The team was ready to start investing heavily in their tool, and understood the importance of well-designed systems to increase efficiency, cut down on person-power, and ultimately deliver better experiences.Strategy.
Designing for our back-of-house associates provides a different challenge than creating customer-facing products. Aside from having different goals, motivations and use cases, our associates come to work every day to interact with this tool. They are the ultimate power users - but the application won't 'do more' for them even if they know where secretes are hidden. Instead, different information is more important.
When I first started designing for StoreApp, I had a beginner's mentality. As an associate using the tool for the first time, I would want to know exactly what step to take next, what button to push, and where my problem solving options are. After doing more in-context user research, however, my opinion of the StoreApp user shifted. The first five times an associate uses the tool are very different than the thousands of times they will use if after that. They have the steps memorized after going through the motions a few times, to a seasoned user, the most important information is where in the warehouse they are going, and what they are scanning once they get there. This understanding of our users influenced every subsequent step we made in the design of this tool.
Designing for a back of house tool means designing for a very diverse audience. Though all design faces the challenge of designing for many types of users, a tool for a fulfillment center brings the challenge to full light. StoreApp needed to be useful to everyone who picked it up - folks who work at a fulfillment center come from all backgrounds - they might not have strong literacy skills, they may not have had full time jobs before, or they may be working on a second graduate degree. We needed a tool that anyone could pick up and start using to do their job, no matter their prior experiences.Design.
I worked closely with the development team to understand the intricate workings of the tool. Prior to my work, there was little documentation of StoreApp. No site maps, redlines or process flows to be seen. I started by creating a site map and template for expressing edge cases, so developers, designers and product managers could all understand the tool as a whole.
I developed medium fidelity wireframes from the existing StoreApp screens to communicate the new flows and patterns to the development team. Points from the developers were severely limited - there was a lot of give and take on both sides. Our team collaborated closely to achieve the best possible MVP experience for our associates. Because design didn't have much documentation of the original design, there were multiple edge cases that I discovered after talking through flows with the developers. The development team and I had agreement on what was in and out of scope before I moved into high fidelity mock ups. We worked closely together to understand Android development best practices, when was the best time to use Android standard UI elements, and what format developers needed redlines in. Because the tech team and I worked so closely together, I was able to deliver high fidelity visual mock ups that were free of surprises.
Why do I include my copywriting and content strategy on my UX portfolio? I'm so glad you asked. Design is about communication - designers are attempting to help people accomplish something. Copy writing is a huge part of that process. The words you put on your design matter, and I'm good at choosing (and testing) the right words. Well written copy can make or break the experience for your user.
I have created content for CrowdSource.com, Dance Studio Owner, Women on Business, Small Business Owner, Giving Forward, YFS Magazine, Dance Studio Life, The Write Life, SeattleDances, Wanderlust and Lipstick and more.
Though I spend most of my time designing and writing copy for those designs, I occasionally contribute content. If you have an interesting writing opportunity, I'm game! Reach out at carlyecunnif(at)gmail(.)com.
The Amazon Campus brand is young and complicated - I worked with the team to identify pain points in the current content and visual identity. Further, I provided research based recommendations for moving forward with user-centered content strategy. Much of the details of this work are not yet public - this case study explores my content strategy process for this project without giving many specific examples.Customer Problem.
When approaching a content-centered project, my first step is a content audit, and the Campus program was no different. I took inventory of every piece of content in our experience, following a typical end-to-end happy path of a user. This allowed me to track an overall picture of what content was located where, and where there might be potential to create consistency across an experience.
The biggest pain point facing the campus team was disparate user experiences across the entire customer journey. Customers would see a different visual identity as they moved through different sections of the flow. Instead of presenting a unified voice and identity, our experience showed several, often conflicting, tones.
It's important to point out that I wasn't the first designer to speak up about this issue - the inconsistent brand of the experience was something the design team had been vocal about long before I started consulting with them. I was able to bring a method by which to measure and communicate the impact of the inconsistent content to the team. This strategy allowed leadership to fully understand the business value of giving weight to this issue in a way they hadn't before.
In addition to writing an in-depth document to explain my initial findings, I used visuals to show the scale of the inconsistent experience. The two issues that got top priority in my mind (and my document) were the lack of a controlled vocabulary, and the lack of a consistent visual experience between touchpoints.Strategy.
After identifying inconsistent execution of brand names, logos, typefaces, vocabulary and other design elements across multiple touch points, I worked with the design team to clearly define a look, naming structure, and brand guidelines regarding our physical locations.
I wanted to back up any recommendations with data, especially when proposing a project so potentially overwhelming. In order to do so, I wanted to learn what specific impact the inconsistencies were having on our customers. I worked with the design team to create brand comprehension surveys and interviews. I had the surveys vetted by Amazon usability experts to ensure we asked the right questions to gauge understanding and engagement.
After gathering and synthesizing the data, I worked with the design team to create a research report that included several recommendations for a naming strategy. In the process of creating an action plan, the team decided to focus first on the naming strategy and controlled vocabulary, which would eventually help guide the visual brand.Outcome.
After we presented our findings to the rest of the team, leadership was able to better comprehend the scope and impact of the problem. I recommended working with a design agency to rename and rebrand the program. This would allow for all the in-house stakeholders (marketing, UX design, physical design) to have a balanced input, while preserving our in-house design resources for upcoming projects.
Apartments.com is a national on-line resource for individuals and families seeking a new home. The site offers comprehensive neighborhood guides that highlight culture and entertainment in a particular area, in case renters are unable to visit before making a housing decision.
I researched particular neighborhoods, created on-brand content and adhered to strict deadlines while working remotely on this team. I created several neighborhood profiles for areas in my home state, then branched out to researching and creating content for neighborhoods elsewhere. I quickly modified my work based on editor feedback, and continued to return high quality content even when deadlines where tight.
Staying Healthy As a Freelance Writer: 9 Important Self Care Strategies. Originally Posted on The Write Life.
10 Things Your Employees Don’t Want (Or Need) To Know About You. Originally Posted on Women On Business.
It's Really Hard to Lead Employees If You Do This. Originally Posted on YFS Magazine.
Plan For Your Ideal Life, Not Your Ideal Business. Originally Published on Small Biz Lady.
Intrepidus Explores What It Means to be Human. Originally published on SeattleDances.
Mesh is a mobile app I created as a concept piece. It connects busy people with peers who have the skills and tools required to partake in specific outdoor activities. By leveraging existing social networks, like Facebook, the app allows users to grow their social network within an already trusted platform. Part of the logo displayed was created by Alexander Russell from Noun Project.
User research, market research, wire framing, information architechture, interaction design, interface design
Busy young professionals have an interest in outdoor adventures but don’t necessarily have the social network, tools or skills required to access all of the opportunities available to them.
Preliminary user research revealed that young professionals are interested and excited about having more adventure in their already busy lives. The barrier to this adventure is lack of adequate access to the skills and tools needed to enjoy specific outdoor activities, mainly because without the necessary social network, there isn’t a way to learn those skills or borrow the necessary tools.Strategy.
I sought to create a platform to connect people with similar interests while growing their social networks. This solution would include allowing young professionals to further engage with the opportunities available to them by increasing access to the tools and skills required to access those activities. By leveraging existing social media platforms, participants will be able to further grow their social networks.
I dove into other applications that existed for a similar market. I drew up a comparative analysis of the existing applications and found where Mesh might be most competitive. In the outdoor activities realm, I found two applications that created social networks. The potential business sweet-spot existed in creating something for the average user - both existing apps catered to "outdoor pros."
Using my user interviews as a guide, I developed a persona and scenarios that guided the rest of the design decisions.
After developing my persona, I went back to the market research with a new lens. The Hinge app drew my interest because of its use of existing social media connections. Though my user is not looking for a dating app, they are looking for a way to make ‘real’ social connections as they experience outdoor activities. Researching Hinge was at first a somewhat random afterthought, but this research essentially drove the idea for setting Mesh apart from competitors. I hypothesized that designing the app to leverage already existing social connections would allow users to experience outdoor activities in a way that encourages lasting connection. It would also allow them to better trust the connections made through the app - they can easily see how they are connected to the person they are about to adventure with.
After determining a strategic direction for Mesh, I was able to sketch ideal user journeys, edge cases and user flow diagrams. Sketching the user flow allowed me to find places that the app needed to collect lots of data from the user, and determined how to integrate existing applications (such as a calendar app) to promote ease of use.
After understanding how a user would ideally move through a scenario on the app, I started sketching the wire frames to demonstrate an ideal flow. This allowed me to better understand where and how data would be displayed. Although the app is not designed for the professional outdoors-man, it needed to suit the user who wanted to engage with it frequently. Lo-fi sketching allowed me to better understand how much data should be leveraged from existing social media.
If I were to continue developing Mesh as a concept piece, I would get the lo-fi prototype in front of users in it's current state. I would want immediate feedback on the concept before moving any further with design. I would also like to learn more about how users use programs like Hinge, I'm sure there are things to learn from the current experience.
Relish is a mobile application that allows users with dietary restrictions to easily search for restaurants that meet their dietary requirements. The Relish app makes dining out not only possible for users with multiple dietary restrictions, but enjoyable.
User Research, Wire frames, Information Architecture, Usability Test Plans, Prototypes, Usability Testing, UI, Branding, Style Guide, UX Specs, Copy writing
Axure, Sketch, Balsamiq
Current Associates, a small design consultancy, hired our team to create a pitch-ready prototype and slide deck for a product called Clear Label. Clear Label was originally a nebulous idea - the general project outline was broad, undeveloped and not researched. Clear Label sought to bridge the knowledge gap between consumers and what they put in their bodies. Our clients wanted to empower the consumer to be conscious and knowledgeable about what they ingest -- be it through our skin, what we eat, or what we breath. As a design team, our first task was to understand the problem space - who is the consumer, what is challenging them about their access to information, and what type of application would investors be interested in?
The initial research phase of this project was at first daunting - the topic was broad - after all, everyone eats, cleans their homes, and uses some kind of product on their skin or hair. In order to narrow down our task and guide our research, we started with the question: why aren’t any of the existing applications working? There are multiple resources on the market that attempt to do what Clear Label suggested, but none of them are taking off. Guided by attempting to find an answer to this question, we conducted user interviews at grocery stores, through targeted outreach to users with dietary restrictions and among self-described ‘foodies.’
Our research gave us invaluable insight into the potential of an application that increases access to information about what we put in our bodies. Consumers, as it turns out, are incredibly concerned about the chemicals, ethics, hidden ingredients, lack of clear labeling, food system stability....and the list goes on. What surprised us (and our clients) was that most users are both concerned, and informed about the incredibly complex systems at play regarding labeling products. Our research showed that consumers not only recognize that eating organic food was better for them, they knew that an “organic label” doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Consumers didn’t need another app to tell them if something was organic, or non-GMO, or ethically raised, because they also know that those labels are often meaningless. Furthermore, users with dietary restrictions (like an allergy to wheat or dairy) don’t use the labels to clarify what they can and cannot eat - their restrictions force them to do in- depth research on specific products at home. Multiple users stated they would not trust an application that helped them read the label.
There were multiple problems we could have chosen to tackle. The biggest and most obvious was that of a tool that actually created transparency between consumers and their products. This finding is confirmed by the general shift in culture toward understanding our food systems and will ultimately become incredibly important in the coming years. Our team felt passionate about solving this problem, so passionate, that we are currently creating an article that discusses the research we did, and recommends a path forward for an interested non-profit. Passionate as we were, our client needed an achievable solution, and the problems didn’t stop with the food access movement.Strategy.
We researched multiple users with food allergies, and consistently heard that grocery shopping was a process they had down to a science. What people with food allergies couldn’t do easily was go out to eat. People with food allergies experienced varying levels of social anxiety when dining out - this anxiety affected personal and professional relationships. Multiple users we spoke with admitted to eating food they knew would make them sick the next day to avoid the social stigma and pressure surrounding their food intolerances. Other users said they just refused to go out at all. Users with young children with multiple food allergies struggled as well - getting a quick meal to feed their family is never an option.
Getting feedback so quickly in the design process proved to be incredibly helpful to creating the final design. Because we had narrowed down our user to those people with dietary restrictions, we targeted our usability tests to that specific user type. We learned that because people who have food intolerances have such a limited ability to eat out, they aren’t necessarily familiar with the ‘standard’ process for applications that search for restaurants. Because of our usability tests, we greatly simplified the search process in later versions of the prototype.
Our usability tests also brought forward an extremely important user experience. People with food allergies struggle to eat out not only because of the social stigma, but because they don’t actually know what is in the food they are eating. They don’t trust restaurant staff or menus. In order to gain trust in the food they are eating, they want to speak with the chief personally, hear about success from someone with similar dietary restrictions or see a detailed list of menu ingredients. Our initial prototype allowed users to see a ‘personalized menu,’ a menu that was tailored to them based on their dietary restrictions. Though users with dietary restrictions stated a personalized menu would be an amazing service - they did not believe an app could provide that kind of information, and if it did, they didn’t know how they could trust it. The value proposition of this application was finally discovered: If we could provide rock solid data in a simple interface for users with dietary restrictions, we could help solve their problem. Even with reliable data, changing the beliefs and habits of users would present a challenge.(RE) DESIGN.
In addition to several simple interface insights we gained from our usability tests, we set out to solve three major UI problems for the second prototype. The first was to clearly define the severity levels of dietary intolerance. Our users liked that we allowed them to select the severity level, (from slightly uncomfortable to deathly allergic) but we realized that those classifications were rather ambiguous. After much discussion and sketching, we agreed that the only two classifications a restaurant would be able to accommodate are “dedicated preparation area” vs. “non-dedicated preparation area.” Users responded well to this change in the next round of usability tests.
Another major change we made after reviewing our usability tests was removing the ‘user profile.’ We originally intended the profile to be a cornerstone of our application - users could create and save their dietary profile, so all of their searches would be specific to them. This profile feature proved to be an unnecessary complication that didn’t add anything to the user experience. Instead, we replaced the ‘filters’ button with a ‘preferences’ button and made it more accessible during the search process so users could quickly access dietary restrictions. Preferences can always be saved, but they can be reset quickly and easily.
The final change was to add the option of viewing an allergen menu in addition to a personalized menu. Because of the hesitation to trust a personalized menu, our hope was to facilitate behavior change by allowing users quick access to a product they are already familiar with. Many restaurants already have allergen menus available - people with dietary restrictions often rely on them. By encouraging people with dietary restrictions to use the application for the quick access to restaurants they can eat at, and allergen menus all in one place, we eventually hope to gain enough trust that they will use the personalized menu.
At this point in our process, we were well aware that Clear Label didn’t make sense as name anymore. Because there was no existing brand or style guide, I created one for the prototype and pitched it to our clients. I intentionally choose colors that were found in food, and focused on high quality photography. We wanted our application to be clean and simple, so the colors are used sparingly. Our team worked with Current Associates to determine a name - we arrived at Relish and loved the multiple meanings the word gave to the application.
Funding the application is another obvious concern. We learned from users that they wouldn’t pay for an application like this - even if the data was rock solid. Our team recognized that developing momentum for an application like this is tricky - restaurants could pay a fee to be listed, but they won’t if there aren’t any eyes on the app. However, there won’t be any eyes on the app until enough restaurants are listed. Selling advertising is a potential option. Another route we suggested was seeking funding and grants - this application serves an obvious health need, and there may be interest in investment from groups who support this type of work.
Our team realized the importance of trust for our users, but we also realized the barriers to accessing the type of data we would need to make this application work. There is still much research to be done to determine the best way to get the information our users need. The obvious solution is to source the information from restaurants, but there is not a lot of motivation for busy restaurant owners to painstakingly input lists of ingredients. There are allergen menus available for some major chain restaurants, starting with the data already available would be another route. The problem here is that our research showed that users with dietary restrictions also care deeply about the quality of the food they put in their bodies, not just if it’s ‘safe’ for them. Many of our usability test participants stated that they wouldn’t use an application like Relish if it listed only chain restaurants, the local shops were more important to them. The best (and potentially most challenging) solution we discovered was crowd sourcing - asking users to photograph ingredients lists, leave detailed reviews, and create the data the app would need to function. This is an avenue we would spend more time on, and a flow we would like to put through the design process.
I approached creating my portfolio with the same process that I employ when taking on any UX project. Knowing that I was entering a long-term relationship with this website, I wanted to ensure that I set myself up for continuously putting my best foot forward. Further, the first thing I look at when interviewing or helping hiring a UX designer is their portfolio - I knew the UX of mine was of utmost importance. I designed (and redesigned) this site, and built it using HTML and CSS.Skills Used
User Research, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, User Interface Design, Visual Design, Copy writingTools Used
HTML/CSS, bootstrap, Photoshop
I conducted initial research by finding UX portfolios that I loved. I looked for sites that were aesthetically pleasing and provided clear, easy to find information. I also looked up specific designers and organizations that I admired, to see how they presented their work.
I reached out to UX designers who had portfolios that really resonated with me. I spoke to them about how they made the choices they made in designing their portfolios, and what they liked to see in UX portfolios. I also spoke with UX designers in the Seattle community, tech recruiters and hiring managers. I talked to them about what they look for in UX portfolios, what the most important inclusions were and what they loved about specific portfolios. I asked them to walk me through their process for finding UX designers, and how they interacted with a portfolio. I created a persona to design for.Strategy.
Speaking with my users was incredibly helpful in determining what should be included in a portfolio. One valuable takeaway was “include every detail you can without overwhelming the reader.” The recruiter who said this suggested that you never know what detail a hiring manager will be interested in. I also heard that most recruiters are viewing portfolios on mobile devices, so responsive design was key. Aesthetically stunning and creative presentations of information was important to one hiring manager. Several interviewees suggested that being able to show my ability to work with pen and paper was very valuable.
I started developing sketches of an overall site flow right away. I decided to use a single scrolling site to keep things contained and help ease the flow for hiring managers who were looking at several portfolios in a single go round. I created wire frames for the overall site structure first, then created wire frames for each project included in my portfolio.
I wanted my portfolio to capture and tell my story, while still giving readers a clear path to my work. My skills and abilities will change with time, but my values won’t. It was important to me to show the type of person I am with the structure and design of my site. My personal brand had to shine through and be backed up by my design. Being a word smith, I started developing my brand by looking for words that described my working self. Words that stood out were ‘plucky,’ ‘adventurous,’ ‘curious,’ and ‘integrity.’ Working with these words, I created a mood board with images that defined my brand.
I created a style tile to direct my site, it served as the first brand guide for my site. I pulled the initial color scheme directly from the mood board, and refined the brand over time. The first version of my site was much more busy - lots of color, nature photography, and more content. As my work and skill set has expanded, I needed to simplify. Not only did I want a clean and simple aesthetic, but I didn't want to overwhelm users with information.Development.
I wanted to use my front end web development skills to build my portfolio, and working in Bootstrap gave me both freedom and easy mobile responsiveness options. I wrote my own code using a bootstrap template. My portfolio gives me the ability to update routinely, link to a blog eventually and display my work in a clear and beautiful way.
The site I built for my business was one of the first I ever created. Though at the time I was proud of the work I'd accomplished as a first time Wordpress user, after working in the field, I knew the site was in need of an overhaul. The Seattle Irish Dance Company has established ourselves as energetic, fun and up-to-date performers, we needed a site that reflected that sentiment, while continuing to appeal to our unique customer base.Skills Used
User Research, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, User Interface Design, Visual Design, Copy writingTools Used
HTML/CSS, bootstrap, Sketch, Photoshop
The Seattle Irish Dance Company is the performance dance company I founded several years ago. Before making the switch to a full time UX designer, I danced professionally – performing, running the business and teaching in between dance tours. Creating my own company is what spurred my interest in web design originally. I needed a website, and I noticed that a lot of dance companies and studios struggled to create appealing web presences.
Though the site I originally created for the company did its job – we booked multiple tours, residencies and gigs through it, it needed several updates. Firstly, the company has changed significantly since I’m not a full time dancer. The site has to function with less manual labor on my part. I needed to design a site that was more informative, so customers know exactly what they can expect from a show. I also needed to discourage customers from contacting me if the company does not provide the service they are requesting. For example, we no longer take educational residencies, or teach beginning students. I needed to create something clear and concise.
Secondly, the site needed to communicate our professionalism as performers, while appealing to our unique customer base. Irish Dance is not exactly ‘hip;’ our customers are either Irish music and dance aficionados, booking agents, or bands that are looking for accompaniment. The site needed to say “we are professional, fun, and will entertain your audience,” without overwhelming those who are not tech-savvy. As always, usability is important. Though I wanted to showcase the fun nature of our performance and allow fans to engage with us, I also wanted customers to find answers to their questions as quickly as possible.
Because of the need for a simple structure to increase usability, I started with lo-fi wireframes that focused on information architecture. The call to action for the site has changed since it was created several years ago – we want potential customers to get in touch with us for performance opportunities. I removed pricing and availability from the site, and instead encourage customers to reach out for more information. Booking agents have access to professional photos, videos and press coverage all from the site, without needing to be redirected to social media to do so. Journalists have clear access to approved photos, and no longer need to contact us to get permission. Fans who are interested in learning more about us can engage with photos and videos right on the site, and can access our social media accounts to follow us in real time.
After getting approval from the rest of the company leadership team, I started to work on the visual design and brand. Because I knew I wanted to use colorful and energetic photos to make a big visual impact, the rest of the visual design needed to be simple and understated. I started with a logo reminiscent of Riverdance –it was flowy, elegant and graceful. Because Riverdance is what most people think of when they hear Irish dancing, it could be beneficial to follow their visual pattern when creating a logo. The first logo also looks like a dance company or dance studio – from far away the letters seem to dance and remind customers of a ballet or theater troupe.
Upon further exploration, the original flowy logo wasn’t in line with our brand. It was also going to be hard to read if we used it for swag (which we do). Though reminiscent of Riverdance, our company is much more spirited and spunky. We dance with Irish party bands, like Gaelic Storm and Geoffrey Castle – we’re not theatrical and balletic like Riverdance. With that in mind, I started looking at logos with a broader stroke. Something readable from a distance, that still had a bit of personality.
After settling on the logo, the visual design of the rest of the site came into focus. The font is simple and iconic, Courier paired with an all-caps treatment of Raleway. This font combination gives enough visual style to be interesting and unique, while keeping with the goal of simplicity and readability. Links are treated with a traditional underline. The photos shine in the simple black and white theme of the site, and the amount of copy has been significantly reduced.
The company has grown since I started it several years ago, and the site needs to help continue that growth in a passive manner. We’ve reorganized the business structure to accommodate the team’s full time jobs, but are still actively seeking performance opportunities. Instead of manually emailing performance footage and photos to potential clients, I’d like to send them one link that makes them want to book our company. My hypothesis is that this new site will do just that – I’m still in the process of building it with Bootstrap.
Carlye is my name, UX Design is my game. Communication has always been my strong suit, and pushing big ideas out the door is (one of) my favorite things.
I have a Sociology degree from the University of British Columbia and hands - on UX skills from General Assembly. I love nothing more than using human centered design to decide what to build, why to build it, and who to build it for.
I push myself to get outside of my comfort zone and dance in someone else's shoes before attempting to find solutions. I get excited about jumping into new experiences, talking with people and playing outside.
I specialize in product and UX design, content strategy and copy writing, education and facilitation, leadership, communication, user research, and design strategy.
Looking for this? Download my resume.
carlyecunniff (@) gmail (.) com