GreatSchools is a leading resource for parents researching schools, with 62 million unique visitors a year. Half of all American families use this mobile responsive site for information, and my role as lead product designer was to employ user-centered principles and innovate upon the product so that people can both find and advocate for the best education possible.

The new school profile… more data, and more user-friendly

The school overview page is the most heavily trafficked page, accounting for about 60% of overall traffic. My priority as a designer was to find the balance between the amount and accessibility of information for an optimal user experience while also serving organizational priorities.

Research & process: The new school profile

I collaborated with company leadership as well as with my team in the product department to gain insights and drive progress. As the product design owner, I spearheaded the competitive analysis, personas, user journeys, explored various interaction models, analyzed foresee feedback and analytics, created surveys, conducted usability and A/B tests, and listened to direct user feedback to determine both the existing user painpoints and to validate an improved design.

Reviews flow: The new school profile

Generating Measurable Results with topical reviews

Major accomplishments include updating the company visual design, tripling reviews acquisitions by designing and implementing new features, significantly improving click-thru rates and improving traffic to important content, modularizing the product design and content architecture so that it can be systematized and scalable, and playing an integral part in reducing the profile's bounce rate by over 5%.

Style guide improvements

Role: product design lead, visual and interaction design, prototyping, user research, analytics, information architecture, content strategy

A Grocery Experience That Supports a Local Food Industry

This concept supports the local food movement and is also a shopper-savvy alternative to the recent startup explosion surrounding grocery delivery. The larger idea behind Town Fare is that local food and grocery discovery is a means to connect to your community and environment, and that there is still untapped value in a digital experience supporting brick-and-mortar store locations.

Envisioning the Next Generation Farmers Market

Discover What is Fresh, Popular, and In-Season

As the local food market often changes, this product is meant to emphasize what is presently in season and recommended for you (a feature called 'Fresh for You'). Users can easily add items to their Grocery List for their next shopping trip (plus symbol), and be reminded when an item is available.

A Self-Tracking Shopping Assistant

This project presumes physical store locations featuring bluetooth sensors (such as this system). Grocery List (blue) and recommended items (green) are globally mapped in the store. This product provides the opportunity to see items in an individual aisle; what the Town Fare Assistant does is automatically tracks and orients items to the user’s immediate proximity. Items can be manually checked off or swiped out of view as the user goes along.

Role: product design, visual and interaction design

LIVE Singapore!: A Real-Time City

Open Seats is a project that fellow researcher Darshan Santani and I spearheaded in the pursuit of improving future urban mobility. It came out of the larger LIVE Singapore! research initiative, launched by MIT’s Senseable City Lab and the SMART Centre in Singapore. I participated on LIVE Singapore! as a visiting researcher (interaction designer) for nine months. The lab had built a real-time data platform, and shared data agreements from a substantial array of Singaporean utilities and transit agencies served to seed the project’s aim of creating a useful data ecosystem for Singaporean citizens and the academic community.

Addressing the Overcrowded Bus Pain Point

Open Seats’ primary mission was to alleviate the periodic overcrowding among individual buses. Nearly 4 million Singaporeans rely on the bus system for their everyday commute, as such every bottleneck in the system is amplified by the sheer volume of users. The LIVE Singapore! platform provides real-time bus ridership data across the entire network. With that, we could visualize the locations and amount of open seats available for any bus.

Open Seats: The Mobile App

A mobile app is in line with the idea of a self-regulating system. Riders have the tool they need to see a bright red circle (meaning: bus is full!) and know to avoid that bus when they are planning their trip. This should make the system itself run into fewer bottlenecks. Because this app was conceived specifically for Singaporean travelers and we have the dataset, I decided to integrate local weather station information. A sudden downpour (a common occurrence) can also change the calculus of what trip one chooses, a shorter walk outside becomes more important.

Open Seats: The Interactive Data Visualization

This tool provides a city-level view of real-time bus capacities. It carries more value for academic research and central actors, as the data is still partially abstracted and the activity of any moment can be paused and compared with the statistical average. The outliers start to emerge; bus routes with consistently high or low volume of course, but also the rates at which a particular route bottlenecks and a bus becomes extremely overcrowded. This often occurs as a result of ‘bus bunching,’ the lead bus is packed (a red circle) and the trailing bus right behind is delayed but also unnecessarily empty (blue).

Role: co-product development, visual and interaction design lead

Easing the Pain Behind Grant Applications

The Wikimedia Foundation offers a number of grants to their community in order to increase the “quantity, quality, diversity, and reach of free knowledge.” I was initially hired as a designer to improve the experience, message, and appeal for their Travel and Participation Support program, and my involvement has branched from there.

Imagery as a Universal Language

The Travel and Participation Support program involved a few steps; it was imperative that we explain the requisites behind application and reporting process more simply and accessibly. The illustrations functioned to explicate each aspect of the program, and it doubled as a way to garner some attention and get people excited about the opportunity.

Improving the On-the-Ground Awareness Effort

In order to capitalize on connecting with our target audience at conferences, I proposed a couple simple innovations. One of these included awarding funded applicants with some some Wikipedia swag, so they can hand out pins or other items at their event and establish tangible endorsements among similarly motivated people and connect that to the Wikimedia mission. Seeing promise with this idea, our team proceeded to implement this into the award process.

Some simple branding was also a part of this project initiative. We had luggage tags produced and distributed at Wikimania (the Wikimedia Foundation’s major annual conference), in order to increase awareness among our key stakeholders.

The revamped program has seen immediate dividends! My next major project will be working with the Re-Imagining Mentorship team, and I am excited to lend my skills to lowering the barriers of entry to becoming an active member and knowledge leader.

Role: interaction design & prototyping, visual design & illustration, partial copywriting

My long-standing relationship as a consultant with the UNICEF and The World Bank is attributable to my skills in organizational design. Both institutions are paving new roads into the technology-for-development and social innovation arena; my role has been to work with on-the-ground stakeholders and codify their learned experience into accessible learning material, as well as to understand and identify how potential roadblocks can be prevented from propagating further. I use my visual and communication skills as a designer to illustrate how innovation can progress more quickly with good information at hand.

UNICEF’s Innovation Lab DIY Guide

A major initiative within UNICEF is the advancement of their innovation lab network. When I began as the lead designer for this DIY Guide there were four established labs, as of this writing there are now fifteen labs worldwide. UNICEF ultimately aims to have thirty simultaneously operating labs. Every new lab needs a supporting tool to help them go from idea to launch, and our team (myself along with Innovation Unit Co-Lead Christopher Fabian and consultant Dee Kim) researched, wrote, and developed the materials that serves to assist these lab leaders across the globe. The Guide has subsequently been translated into Arabic and Spanish, advancing its reach even further.

DIY Means to Define Your Own Lab Direction

New lab leaders can learn from more established labs but fledgling operations must be sensitive to their own particular circumstances. What we learned through iteration and collaboration is that we cannot be prescriptive. For that reason, this project was more than a simple How-To, we needed to become a resource that empowers stakeholders to define their own direction.

The World Bank’s Open Data for Resilience Field Guide

The World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) is spearheading an initiative called OpenDRI, and I was brought on as a consultant to establish a design vernacular for learning and building support around this topic.

A Resource for Non-Technical Stakeholders

OpenDRI involves the utilization of digital tools to open source governments’ disaster resilience data, where it has a greater capacity for accuracy and value to the community. OpenDRI also encourages the collection of more comprehensive exposure data for high-risk communities, an endeavor that involves a true community effort. I was proud to be a part of this project, which has the honor of having been included in the White House’s Climate Data Initiative.

Role: project management, information design, interaction design, front end development, copywriting

SoFi is a San Francisco-based startup in the lending industry. One of the major value propositions provided by SoFi is that alumni investors from participating universities can help refinance the student loans from more recent graduates. I was hired to lead the design and facilitate the development of their Community product. Community is a social platform for professional networking, sharing content, and publicizing career events among both borrowers and investors.

Creating a Close-Knit Community, From Scratch

The Editorial Hand Making Connections

Community required an easy and non-presumptive means of initiating contact with people in the SoFi network. With this in mind, we built a content stream; users can post a message, an inquiry, or a link to an interesting article and receive comments on it. But the Community needed to go further to facilitate meaningful introductions. Our product leveraged the unique value that SoFi Community Managers can provide when acting as moderators, by promoting selected posts to the top of the page and using these priority posts as a provocation for discussion among the forum.

A Points System that Supports Professional Networking

Offline networking events hosted by SoFi are consistently well attended, and we determined to use the Community platform to enhance the visibility and scope of SoFi functions. Any events with well-known figures in industry and sports as featured guests quickly resulted in demand outstripping supply for the limited number of available seats.

The idea was struck to use a points system that active and high quality users can accrue and then exchange for priority access to events of one’s choosing. Creating posts, commenting on discussions, and the ability to explicitly vote up content stockpiled points for the user and for other members with which the user interacts.

Role: interaction design, visual design, front end development, partial product development