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SQUARESPACE

Product Design Internship

 

Category: Product Design

Roles: UX/UI, user testing, prototyping

 
 

 

 

During the summer of 2018, I was a summer intern for the product design team at Squarespace. Immersing myself into the Squarespace environment, I learned from a great team and contributed as a generalist for various departments in product design and, in particular, the CMS team.

THINGS I WORKED ON

  • Analyzing and redesigning the UX/UI of the existing Image Editor to be more congruous with the Squarespace brand and identity.

  • Working on a new 800px modal system that all of the product design teams could potentially utilize.

  • Figuring out UX flow for potential Page Settings redesign

  • Micro-interactions in the Page Badging feature.

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RE-DESIGNING THE IMAGE EDITOR

The existing Aviary image editor was dated, clunky, filled with unwanted features and expiring so the project was urgent. Aviary was also glaringly incongruous visually with the clean modern SQSP aesthetic.

I started with examining each feature on Aviary to determine what the respective functions and flow were. I hoped to minimize anything unnecessary

 
 

OLD VS NEW

 
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The final redesigned image editor is stripped down to the core essential functions as opposed to the over-cluttered under-utilized functions of the old Aviary editor.

 
 

ANALYSIS

By analyzing data, we were able to determine actual usage by customers of the editing tools.

Regularly testing competitive image editing apps helped determine which specific functions were commonly used and needed.

 
 

WIREFRAMING

Exploring the UX flow of the old editor helped us transition to a smoother experience.

 

Having worked on a re-design of the SQSP modal system prior to this project, I was well versed with the design system and started incorporating the new visual language and ratios into the new editor.

Placing the menu on the right margin aligned with the rest of the SQSP platform and the soon-to-be launched version of the new OS. It also made sense in maximizing usable space

A dark and light mode was proposed to allow user to choose the best contrast to their images, but it was nixed due to developer constraints.

 

SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS

 
 
 
 

EXAMINING UX FLOW

 

Analysis allowed us to delete unnecessary features. Figuring out the overall flow of functions as we edited down was important in user testing.

 

Getting the features down to Transform (crop), Adjust (lighting) and Effects (after more user testing we determined effects could also be deleted from our features), we inched closer to a final result.

 

Exploration of a feature that would later be edited as we pared down to essentials.

 

MOBILE EXPLORATIONS

Exploration into how this new design would look in mobile interface

 

 

 
 
 

NEW 800px MODAL SYSTEM

There was no set system for the modals used by the various facets of design. The sizes / ratios ran the gamut and lacked cohesion.

Working with the systems designer, I gathered all the assets from the various product design teams and tried various ratios for the modals. We settled on 800px after many iterations and discussions with the teams and design leads.

800 was a number derived from realizing that there were consistent widths of 320 and 480 used throughout the platform. The sum was harmonious.

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Trying various ratios based on disparate existing assets throughout the SQSP design universe.

 
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PAGE BADGING

Very simple micro-interaction with icons appearing to inform user of activated levels of navigation.

 

 
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TIMELY

Time well spent with The New York Times

 

Advisor: Renda Morton (Executive Director of Product Design, The New York Times)

Team: Ke Hu, Johny Vino

Roles: research, interviews, synthesis, storyboard sketching, prototype ideation/concept, UX/UI

Categories: product design, UX / UI, video, prototyping

 
 
 

 

"I’m not very informed about the news.  I’m interested.  I think it’s time. I don’t have a designated time besides this morning email I get where I just look at news.  Actually some of my classmates, I’ll be busy working for the next class and they’ll just be sitting with their headphones and watching or reading the news.  I wish I could do that!  Maybe time management is a major issue."

-Carly, 23

 
 

 

 
 

PROBLEM

The New York Times loses users of its app due to a myriad of reasons, some of them due to competition and cost but also including the following:

  • Coverage (they are unhappy about something they read)

  • Content not relevant to them

  • Life-changing event (moving)

  • Lack of usage

 

CHALLENGE

Amongst the sea of free news apps, how might we build incentives that lead to lasting habits for readers of The New York Times app in order to retain their long term loyalty?

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SOLUTION

Utilize opportune moments throughout the day to consume NYT content.

Not requiring a major overhaul of the existing NYT app, Timely adds a subtle and useful feature to the mobile landing page that will enable the user to read articles at opportune moments throughout a busy day. These moments include breakfast, commutes, before a meeting, during a coffee break or right before bed.

By connecting to your Google calendar and also a short onboarding in which you specify when you typically have meals or commute, Timely gets to smartly understand the user’s schedule.

Timely will give personalized access to articles that will be a quick read and, most importantly, are catered to each user’s interests, habits and schedules.

AUDIENCE

People with busy schedules who are interested in quality journalism, who may have small moments throughout the day in order to catch up on interesting articles from The New York Times.

Photo by  Toa Heftiba  on  Unsplash

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

 
 
 
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PROTOTYPE

 
 

MANUAL MODE

Manual mode allows the user to pull up Timely when they have a small moment to spare to consume content. Rather than scrolling around endlessly for articles, Timely will feed pertinent articles to each unique user in the time span they specify they can spare.

THis mode does not require Google Calendar sync.

 
 
 

AUTO MODE

 
 

Auto mode gives the user a feed of personalized ‘curated’ content that fit within the small windows of free time throughout each particular day.

This mode requires Google Calendar sign-in and a simple on-boarding in order to understand the user’s schedule.

Articles can always be saved for later.

 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 

PRESENTATION AT NYT HQ

It was an honor to present at The New York Times HQ to members of their staff. We received insightful and positive feedback.

It was an honor to present at The New York Times HQ to members of their staff. We received insightful and positive feedback.

 
 
 
 

 

 

CONTEXT

The New York Times is a storied institution with tremendous worldwide influence and global reach. Long regarded within the industry as a national "newspaper of record", The Times has also developed a reputation as one of the top innovators within web journalism, particularly for its innovations in multimedia and interactive data. 

In 2008, The New York Times created an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch which allowed users to download articles to their mobile device enabling them to read the paper even when they were unable to receive a signal. 

KEY INSIGHTS

A 2017 Reuters Digital News report gave us insight on the state of news consumption globally.

  • After a period of little or no growth, there has been a jump in the use of news apps in almost all countries

  • Young Americans are paying for news

  • Factors influencing willingness to pay are: desire to fund 'real journalism', breaking news, quality reporting on recent events, in-depth analysis, commentary

  • Apple News has helped propel growth with their Spotlight news feed and mobile alerts

  • Validity of news sources is important

  • Young people still prefer text over video news

  • Time is a major factor in the ability to read the news

  • Google Calendar is the most popular calendar followed by Outlook and Apple.

 
 
 

 

 

OLD VS NEW

 

Our assumption was that we could improve the menu of the NYT app by replacing the hamburger with a scrollable top menu where we could conveniently nestle the new Timely feature.

We realized how important it is to study both Android and iOS after our critique. (We had initially only looked at iOS). So our proposal was already used in Android users using the NYT app. Lesson learned.

 
 
 
 

 

 

STORYBOARD

I created these storyboards to illustrate the journey of discovery by the user of Timely and how they would utilize it throughout a typical day.

Having a deep interest in cinema as well as drawing, I really enjoy storyboarding live during iteration in order to understand the use cases and motivations of the user.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

USE CASE STUDIES

In order to get to our final concept, we went through numerous concept exercises, critiquing the ideas and iterating on them.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

PROCESS

Exercise to determine pain points and motivations of the user when using news apps.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

WIREFRAMING

Additional concept exercises to formulate more concrete ideas.

 
 
 
 
 
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VARIOUS ARTISTS

Music sounds better with you…baby

 

Advisor: Katie Lee

Roles: research, synthesis, wireframes, prototype ideation/concept/flows, illustrations, UX/UI

Categories: Public Interfaces, UX research/strategy, product design, UX / UI, prototyping

 
 

 
 

“I know far more today about albums I hated in 1990 than I do about my favorite albums released last year.”

- James Jackson Toth (NPR)

 
 

 

 

PROBLEM

In our modern era of instant music streaming, with a single click, we can access almost every piece of music ever recorded. The tangible / physical experience of music discovery has been lost.

CHALLENGE

How might we give fans a physical memory of music discovery in the age of endless streaming options?

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SOLUTION

Communal listening experiences re-introduce tangible memories back into music discovery.

VARIOUS ARTISTS is an app that reintroduces the physical (through listening parties + DIY merch) back into the modern music listening experience.

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AUDIENCE

The modern music obsessed streamer who may benefit from having a physical memory attached to their music listening experiences.

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PROTOTYPE

 
 
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Onboarding introduces the user to the features of Various Artists.

 
 
 
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Music definitely sounds better with you, baby.

 
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Via familiar interactions, VA will build your personalized feed of events.

 
 
 
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DIve deeper into artists by listening to tracks as well as learning more info about them.

 
 
 
 
 
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‘Your Feed’ will cater specific events for the user based on their musical tastes.

 
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Experience individuality and rarity through DIY merch, a feature that VA is all about. Merch can be voted on democratically.

 

 
 
 
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Assuage any apprehensions about hosts by seeing reviews, past events they have hosted or attended, as well as what bands they love.

 
 
 
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The final booking secures your spot at a Various Artists event.

 
 

 

SCREENSHOTS

 
 
 
 

 

 
 

CONTEXT

Insights gained from talking with potential users as well as secondary research

 
 
 
 

EVOLUTION OF MUSIC CONSUMPTION

 
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As music consumption has evolved, the physical aspects of discovery and communal experiences have dwindled.

 
 
 

 

 
 

NOTION OF HAPPENINGS

Examples of memorable listening experiences from the past to the present

 
 

 
 

FRAMEWORK / WIREFRAMING

Breaking down just who is the target user and what their motivations and problems are

An early iteration involved an immersive treasure hunt experience that would lead lucky users around a city to collect digital tracks. Each track would be accompanied by a unique curated experiences that would imbed a positive physical memory to the overall album discovery. It was not easily scalable and thus nixed.

 
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VISUAL EXPLORATIONS

 
 

 
 
 

NEXT STEPS

  • ‘Host mode’ user journey and design

  • Iterate on ‘MerchShare’ concept so that artists can approve of designs and share profits with DIY designers.

  • How do we get bands to participate in Various Artists?

  • Does it merge w Sofar Sounds? Is there a possibility of small surprise sets, by well-known artists?

  • Are there Freemium and Premium versions?

  • Brainstorm settings beyond apartments and bars.  Can they be on subways or in other public spaces?

 
 
 
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Image editing, simplified.

 
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MONARC

A next generation savings account for the modern millennial

 

Advisors: Hasan Kazmi (CitiVentures), Roger Mader (Ampersand), Criswell Lappin (Scrollmotion)

Team: Jennifer Wei, Jason Branch

Roles: research, interviews, synthesis, led prototype ideation/concept, user personas, UX/UI, video

Categories: UX research/strategy, product design, UX / UI, video, prototyping

 
 

 

"I really like this solution. At Citi, we have been trying to figure out how to change people's behaviors but the MONARC team figured out a great solution that works with existing behaviors to help people save money." 

Hasan Kazmi (Head of Strategy & Partnerships at Citi Ventures Global Innovation Network)

"Any ideas need to be easy.  People are not clamoring for a lot of features.  There should be no obstacles to your daily habits or very few.  It should be easy and simple and fast.  Get the message out simply and clearly.  The clearer, less complicated the idea, the more scale you’ll have."

-Sandra Reilly (Citibank)

 

 
 

PROBLEM

There are over 80 million millennials in the United States, the largest demographic in American history. 

A majority are not saving effectively for emergencies and delaying important life milestones such as marriage and purchasing a home.  Many try to save diligently but with no true purpose or goals in mind.  

CHALLENGE

How might we challenge how a traditional banking institution engages with millennials in a way that makes saving an inherent part of their daily routine? 

 

 
 

 

SOLUTION

Amongst the endless sea of fin-tech apps that exist, MONARC stands out in its simplicity.  A banking app that taps into ingrained existing behavior in order to effectively save money in a fun and painless way.  The ingrained behavior is social media, something that millennials engage in on a constant basis. 

MONARC connects with your social media apps and garners the number of likes you get on content that you have posted on apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  It then helps you transfer your own hard-earned money into the MONARC savings app based on those daily likes. 

 
 
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SCREENS

SPLASH + ACCOUNT SETUP

 
 
 
 

INPUTTING FINANCIAL INFO

MONARC will help you calculate how much you can save, based on your savings, spending and social media habits.  Using algorithms, MONARC will give you the options of saving 10, 15 or 20% of your net balance after expenses and bills.

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BALANCE CALCULATION SCREENS

 
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SOCIAL MEDIA ‘LIKES’ = GOAL-ORIENTED SAVINGS

You choose how much you want to save-per-like.  Let's say you want to save $0.10 per like. Garner 100 likes and you have saved $10.  You go about your daily routine, posting as you wish, getting notifications when you have saved into MONARC. No change in inherent behavior but you do save with goals in mind.

 
 
 

SET UP SPECIFIC GOALS

Practice a less impulsive spending habit by setting up a few short or long term goals that you wish to fulfill through your daily routine of posting on social media. 

Before you know it, you will have started saving for a pair of sneakers, a fun trip somewhere, a concert or eventually, towards bigger goals like buying a home.

 
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RETURN ENGAGEMENT

Millennials are social creatures (and social butterflies), at least digitally. They have a willingness and the tools to share their experiences like no other prior generation.  Although discussing real dollar amounts is still considered taboo, they are willing to crowdsource financial advice. 

In the MONARC Kaleidoscope network, you will never see actual dollar amounts of your fellow MONARCers, but you will be able to see the progress of their goals.  Encourage each other with emojis and chats and be inspired as you save towards your goals.

 
 
 
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KEY INSIGHTS

 
  • 'Trust, relationships and technology' = new holy trinity for millennials

  • View tech as familiar, easy, friendly, clear and immediate

  • 1/3 prefer Siri or Google for advice, rather than financial professionals

  • Consider trips to a traditional bank branch as inconvenient and unnecessary

  • Want to bank on their own terms

  • Experiences are much more important than things

  • More likely to spend money on experiences they can document on social media

  • Don't want obstacles to daily habits

  • Communicate primarily via photos, videos, hashtags and emojis

  • They utilize social media to communicate, share & get information

  • Simplicity leads to engagement

  • Great Recession resulted in tendency to spend responsibly but with no concrete plans or goals

  • Putting off marriage and other life milestones

  • Collaborative in nature

  • Willing to crowdsource financial advice

  • Don't overdo the features

  • The more clear and less complicated the idea, the more scale.

 
 

 
 

PROTOTYPE VIDEO

 
 

 

 

EARLY ITERATION

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

IDEATION + WIREFRAMING

 
 

 

 

RESEARCH

CONTEXT

By 2025, millennials will make 46 percent of all income in the U.S.  Because of their sheer magnitude and subsequent buying + savings power, there’s a big financial benefit for banks in wooing this demographic and paying attention to their behaviors.  We researched, surveyed and interviewed numerous millennials and gained valuable insights. 

  • 86 percent of the millennial generation are dependent on their smartphones according to a 2017 goEBT report. Their generation relies on phone apps and mobile tools to pay bills, view statements and set up recurring payments. They want the convenience of real-time updates on their finances instead of waiting for a monthly bank statement in the mail.

  • A 2017 sproutsocial blog post reported that Instagram usage is particularly strong among millennials. 48 million millennials rely on Instagram, skyrocketing to 2/3 by next year. Instagram currently has over 700 million total monthly active users. To put this into perspective, that’s over double the monthly active users of Twitter and 3Xs as much for monthly active users on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

  • According to a 2017 GoBankingRates survey, respondents aged 25 to 34 who have:

 
 
  • $0 saved: 41 percent

  • Less than $1,000 saved: 20 percent

  • $1,000 to $4,999 saved: 13 percent

  • $5,000 to $9,999 saved: 6 percent

  • $10,000 or more saved: 20 percent

 
  • The numbers above have increased since the prior year 2016 suggesting that young Americans are beginning to realize the importance of having money saved, specifically in a savings account.

  • According to a 2016 CNBC report, "millennials are prioritizing their cars and homes less and less, and assigning greater importance to personal experiences — and showing off pictures of them."

We eventually came to the realization that the term under-banked was misleading.  The majority of folks we spoke with were more under-engaged than simply under-banked.  

 

 

PERSONAS

 
 

 

INTERVIEW EXCERPTS

 
 

 

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS

 
 
 

 
 

“Millennials need to lead their lives with confidence. They need the financial foundations of their lives to be transparent and easy, on autopilot. But since it’s not; because it’s hard and scary and complex and confusing, they think they are just dumb. They don’t speak the language. Hint: fix the process. Simplify the decision. Make the finance an inherent and ideally invisible part of the process.”

-Roger Mader (Ampersand)

 
 
 
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MELTING POT

Local excursions to faraway flavors

 

Advisors: Joshua Musick (United Technologies), John Leonard (frog)  

Team: Rachel Balma, Kinza Kasher, Johny Vino

Roles: research, interviews, synthesis, prototype ideation/concept, user personas, UX/UI, video

Categories: UX research/strategy, product design, UX / UI, video, prototyping

 
 

 
 

 

 
 

PROBLEM

In a world with constant social 'connections' that can often times feel superficial or fleeting, cross-cultural interactions can create new understanding and provide honest insights. However, there aren’t always ample opportunities for them to occur naturally.

CHALLENGE

How might we create meaningful, shared experiences by connecting people from different backgrounds around something they love?

 
 
 

 

SOLUTION

Melting Pot is an app dedicated to forging new bonds across cultures, with food as the ultimate connector. Users are paired with unexpected culinary experiences that are informal, personal and fun.

AUDIENCE

Anyone craving rich memorable experiences involving disparate culinary cultures as well as meeting new people with similar passions.

 
 
 

 
 
 

PROCESS

 

 

 
 
 
 

PROTOTYPE

 

 

 
 
 
 

HOME SCREEN + BOOKING

 
 

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

GIF BROWSING

During our user testing, we found that while the home page layout was clear, it didn’t tell the story of a rich experience. We wanted to bring people into the homes of the chefs and the true feel of cooking and sharing. To bring those pictures to life, we utilized GIFs, allowing the chef to personalize their offering further, taking some of the pressure off of having the perfect food photo.

GIF browsing creates dynamic content for the user that focuses on the experience of cooking and sharing rather than just the end result.

 
 

FOLLOWING

Users can follow chefs whose recipes they especially admire. They’ll see recipes from these chefs in “Spotlight” and know first when seats are open at their tables.

 

 
 
 

JOURNEY POINTS

Provides subtle incentive for the user to engage in cooking experiences that are different from their current cultural knowledge or background.

Can also be used to help bring new users into the community. Users who are new to MELTING POT or travel longer distances than average could earn more points. When a user hits a certain amount of points, they might receive rewards dollars towards another MELTING POT experience.  They can also garner extra points by introducing the app to friends.

 
 
 

KEEPSAKE

After a user completes an experience, the chef sends them a short thank you note and the recipe they cooked as a parting gift. This extends the experience and relationship beyond the dinner table. 

 

 
 
 
 

POST EXPERIENCE

 
 
 
 

 
 
 

KEY INSIGHTS

  • Users were more willing than we assumed to go to a stranger's home to learn how to cook something.

  • Users wanted an intimate experience, something that felt very DIY and impromptu. They were okay with initial awkwardness.

  • Users liked the idea of having some kind of keepsake after the experience.

  • The option to go with someone (a friend or partner) was important.

  • Ratings and images were especially important to build trust.

 

NEXT STEPS

  • Continue usability testing and iteration

  • Expand on how the journey points system would work

  • Working on the business case

  • Onboarding, reviewing and host side experiences

 
 
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TAAK

Build a well-balanced analog life for your kids.

 

Advisors: Gary Chou (Orbital), Christina Xu

Roles: research, interviews, synthesis, prototype ideation/concept, video, entrepreneur

Categories: entrepreneurial design, Kickstarter, research/strategy, product design, video, prototyping

Kickstarter: http://kck.st/2I1OLSb

 
 

 
 

“OMGGGGG

dude the kids LOVE their kit”

-Lana (TAAK supporter who donated her TAAK to her friend with two adopted kids, ages 7 & 9, who had a drug-addicted mom. Her friend is adamant about keeping them off screens but it’s not easy)

 
 

 
 

PROBLEM

The reliance on smart devices by young children (iGen) is directly correlated with skyrocketing rates of teen depression and suicide since 2011. It’s not hyperbolic to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.

CHALLENGE

How might we create a practical and easy solution to provide balance and fulfillment to young kids' (ages 3-10) lives so that they are not dependent on smart devices to pass time? How might we also help parents who, with their busy schedules may not even realize the extent to which tech addiction can affect their kids?

 
 

 

SOLUTION

An analog activity board that staves off boredom and overreliance on screen time for kids.

TAAK stands for 'Totally Awesome Activity Kit'. It's an interactive and collaborative way for kids and parents to plan out a day’s worth of activities with an analog emphasis so that kids' minds can develop properly.

AUDIENCE

Kids age 3-12 and parents of these children who may not realize how much technology has taken over their day-to-day existence.

 

 
 

 

KICKSTARTER VIDEO

 

PROCESS

 

ORIGINS

A few years ago, when I was busy at home working and needed to keep the kids occupied, I set up a dry erase board and asked them to write activities they could do so that they could feel like they accomplished something more than watch TV or look at a phone for hours on end.  This was TAAK 1.0.  To my delight, they did each activity and enthusiastically moved on to the next.  We have been doing this for years.  Balance has been key in their mental and physical well-being.

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COMMUNITY OFFERING

This Kickstarter campaign is infamously known in our graduate program as the $1000 Kickstarter project.  We were to think of a community and ideate an offering for them that could be beneficial.  I decided to focus on kids and tech addiction, which is a very real problem.  My research confirmed this assumption.  I wanted to extract the info I needed via a survey for the parents in my community that was more playful than the typical methods.  I decided to use a 'Mad-Lib' format that was meant to be serious.  All in all, I received over 30 responses which really gave me tremendous insight on my direction.

 

ANALOG ACTIVITIES

I had the benefit of a very real proven four year process of testing out analog activities with my own kids to know that most of them are very effective. Yes, even digital activities are part of this as it is all about BALANCE!

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IDEATION

Instead of the rudimentary (but effective) dry erase board, I wanted to refine the idea so that it could be an easy to use product for any family.  I realized that the activities themselves had to be front and center in order for the product to be effective.  Besides the ones we have used for years, I wanted to come up with many more as well as crowd-source ideas.  I did this via my Kickstarter community as well reaching out to parents directly.  Slowly TAAK started taking shape.  

 

USER TESTING

Conducting numerous user testing sessions with both kids and parents helped me hone my idea and make last minute tweaks prior to launch date

 
 
 

 
 

BLOGGING

Writing about the process throughout each turning point was both helpful and therapeutic. You can see some of my writings here: https://medium.com/@ahou1

 
 
 
 
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