Re-imagining Zagat
In 2018 The Infatuation bought Zagat from Google. Ever since then, our product team has been hard at work on a brand new platform where passionate restaurant-goers can share their experiences at their favorite places and others can benefit from their recommendations and advice. The new Zagat is slated to drop later this year, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve built!
Role Lead Product Designer.
Responsibilities Market Research. Evaluative Research. Usability Research. Product Ideation & Strategy. User Experience Design. User Interface Design. Prototyping. Design Systems. Product Copywriting.
Collaborators Jane Park, Product Management Director. Matt Clifton, Product Designer. Jorge Davilla, Engineering Manager. Brett East, Senior Product Engineer. Henry Millison, Product Engineer. Steve Young, Platform Engineer.
Zagat Stories
2019 — 2020
While we have been working on the new Zagat product, we wanted to find a way of re-establishing the Zagat brand as well as build a deeper report with the restaurant community. Due to resource constraints and an ambitious timeline, I knew we would need some outside help. I tapped Kevin Zweerink of Currently.Studio to lend his expertise.
Role Design Director.
Responsibilities Design Direction. Project Planning & Scoping. Contractor Coordination.
Collaborators Kevin Zweerink, Designer. Jane Park, Product Management Director. Brett East, Senior Product Engineer. Henry Millison, Product Engineer.
Earlier that year, we worked with Franklyn to re-establish the visual branding, and this site would serve as its first major application. We created an editorial experience that honored the tradition of Zagat and thoughtfully structured our new content, all while providing high value opportunities for advertising and partnerships.
Our creative team was already hard at work producing these elegant and highly composed videos with chefs and restauranteurs. We needed to create an article page that would showcase our video content, but also flex to accommodate a range of written and pictorial editorial pieces as well.
Conceptualizing Drip
In 2017, I was tapped to lead design efforts for a brand new product at Kickstarter, our first since the initial platform launched in 2009. Under the name Drip, we would now offer our creators a flexible funding model that could support their lives more holistically, and foster a deeper engagement with their fanbase. It was our intention to launch as a standalone native app that would allow creators to share their process and lives in an easier, richer, and more continuous way.
Role Lead Product Designer.
Responsibilities User Experience Design. User Interface Design. Product Ideation & Strategy. Evaluative Research. Usability Research. Prototyping.
Collaborators Zack Sears, Design Director.
We started with the public-facing creator page. We wanted to create an enticing and expansive palate for a creator to show off every facet of their work, almost like a portfolio. We also wanted to design a format that would effectively pitch the project to interested backers and demonstrate the value of their support.
This product, like Kickstarter’s core product, is a two sided marketplace. We needed to create an engaging view that would actively update a backer on the latest from the creators that they support, reinforcing the value they were receiving from the exchange. We tried two versions: one that proudly presented each contribution on their own screen, and one that leveraged a traditional feed.
One of the biggest insights we learned from existing creators was that it took too much effort to put together a project update worth sharing with their backers. We wanted to ease this barrier and create a compelling experience that would motivate creators to share with their backers more casually and frequently.
Kickstarter Storytelling
2015 — 2017
A lot of my projects at Kickstarter involved telling the story of our brand, communicating our mission, and reframing us as cultural institution on par with any other. Our goal was to frame the diverse pool of projects on our site into a cohesive narrative that broadcasts our values and celebrate our creators, all while providing relevant pathways into our discovery and creation channels.
Role Product Designer & Front-end Developer.
Responsibilities Design Sprint Facilitation. Web Design. Front-end Development. Prototyping.
Collaborators Zack Sears, Design Director. Sarah Lim, Copywriter. Justin Kazmark, Copy Editor.
In 2017, in the midst of an exciting rebrand, we saw a prime opportunity to reframe our homepage as an outlet to educate new users about the platform and build rapport with the creative community. Our hypothesis was that a more opinionated, editorialized presentation of the material would elevate our content and reinforce our reputation as a home for creators. We tested these assumptions in a week-long Google Ventures style design sprint.
In 2016, following an independent study detailing the economic impact of Kickstarter, I was asked to put together a mini-site that would highlight that impact as well as creators who have benefited from our platform. We took the opportunity to pair the statistics with narratives about the people behind the projects and the communities that connected with them. Working closely with our copywriter Sarah Lim, we found a way to consolidate these stories into a framework that could scale easily, while emphasizing the unique qualities of each in an engaging experience.
Taking on the front-end development responsibilities myself allowed for a strong synthesis between the design and development phases, resulting in a comprehensively integrated experience. Interactions and animations were designed and then quickly prototyped to test for feasibility and performance. The continuity between the mobile and desktop experience was carefully addressed.
In 2016, after we officially reincorporated as a Public Benefit Company (PBC), I was asked to put together a page that would document the companies progress in meeting the goals of our new charter. Half branding exercise and half comprehensive legal document, this page would highlight some of our most exciting initiatives from the past year, bolster them with hard statistics and paint us as a philanthropic and socially conscious organization.
Discovering Kickstarter
2015 — 2016
In 2015, I worked with a small team of designers to conceptualize the future of Kickstarter, near and long-term. This project took us on a winding trail as we unraveled the product from conception to the present, analyzed everything, and synthesized our findings into a new iteration of the product that emphasized the power of the crowd. This nearly year-long process became an exhaustive reimagining of the entire platform. As a team we crafted new UX patterns, overhauled the UI to fit, and introduced new motion principles.
Role Product Designer.
Responsibilities User Experience Design. User Interface Design. Motion Design. Product Ideation. Usability Research. Prototyping.
Credits Nicole Yeo, Designer. Courtney Burton, Designer. Stefan Dufgran, Designer. Chris Wiggins, Creative Director. Zack Sears, Design Director. Olivier Gillaizeau, Design Director. Sarah Lim, Copywriter.
It all started with recirculation. Our analytics were telling us that a majority of the traffic was coming in to a project page and then bouncing. We started by investigating experience patterns that would frame an individual page as part of a larger lexicon of creativity on the site, and demonstrate the breadth of projects currently seeking funding. This lead us to “the stream.”
“The stream”, as opposed to a feed, would be a leisurely browsing experience, giving projects an individual moment to shine and providing opportunities for us to contextualize them. We investigated concepts like badging, tagging, endorsing, and social influence as a way to frame the relevance and timeliness of a project and boost engagement with it.
We looked for opportunities to artfully combine manually curated projects with algorithmically selected groupings and use them tell a cohesive story for our users. We sectioned our browsing experience into “Chapters”, subsets of projects contextualized around themes like “Trending” or “Recommended for you.” We learned fairly quickly in user testing that these distinctions weren’t obviously recognizable, so we explored solutions for how to better distinguish them.
Ultimately, due to a change in leadership and strategy as well as concerns with feasibility, the bulk of this project was shelved. We made an exercise of pulling out viable concepts and scoping them as discrete projects, but shifting priorities left those mostly unrealized as well. In the end, we learned a lot about conceptualizing the future of a product, but not a lot about actually getting it done.
About me
Photo by my bestest buddy Micah E. Wood.
I am a multi-disciplinary designer and design leader who specializes in starting things from scratch. I have a degree in graphic design and over 7 years of professional design experience, working on digital products, websites, branding and events. I was previously the Director of Product Design at The Infatuation & Zagat. Before that, I’ve spent time designing at Work & Co, Kickstarter, and Friends of The Web. I am proudly black, proudly queer, and I bring an expanded worldview to every team and every project I work on. I’m a happy New Yorker, avid podcast listener, great at 'naming that actor.' My favorite foods are of the dumpling variety: soup dumplings, pierogies, samosas; you know the type.
Skills that pay the bills