Design process example

I want to demonstrate my design process using the internship project I did last summer at Mailchimp as a product designer. This was an end-to-end experimental project where I was given the task to design a brand management tool for small businesses.

I kicked off this project with a project plan. Then I conducted 9 stakeholder interviews to frame the problem. Later, competitive research and participatory workshop inspired me of new ideas. After mapping out user flow, I moved to the iterative process of prototyping and testing. In the end, I delivered design specs and presented the project to the executives.


Project Plan

Define the big questions to guide my design process: what elements make up a brand? Where and how can we capture them?

I kicked off this project with a project plan. Based on some previous research about brand styles, my manager and I came up with our problem & opportunity, goals & anti-goals, as well as success metrics. The first question for me to answer was why we choose to focus on brand?

Why brand?

1) Brand is at the center of Mailchimp's value proposition. When users create a campaign, they are confirming a template to align with their brand. 

2) Users complained that their branding was inconsistent across campaigns and made their business less professional.

3) Branding is very time-consuming for small business.

Stakeholder Interviews

The insights I gained helped me understand the project scope, priority, our primary users, and brand elements we want to focus.

Affinity Diagram

I talked to 9 folks including design managers, researchers, and users. After analyzing all the notes, I grouped them into 8 categories:

Goals, User Mentality, User Groups, Brand Component, Challenges, Suggestions, Business Goals, Replication Behaviors.

Brand elements?

Based on the interviews, we decided to focus on 4 primary representations of brand: logo, color, font, and button styles because: 1) They have the maximum impact on the final representation of the content. 2) They are easiest to capture and reproduce. 3) They represent the highest level of effort as defined by 60% of the creation time.


For this project, we want to focus on novice users.

For future research, we planned to exam the whole user spectrum: users with different sophistications, as well as in different sections: e-commerce, service provider, digital products and so on.

Competitor Teardown

Understanding what our competitors are doing and why they are doing this allowed me to dig deeper into the problem space.


We only saw partial executions of global styles feature in other products. Therefore, there is an opportunity to create a thoughtful and integrated approach to brand styles and let users access its benefits anywhere in the flow that makes sense to them. 


Competitors provide different levels of inline editing controls. This brought up two main design questions for us: How much editing freedom we want to provide and how much we can interfere with the current user flow.

Participatory workshop

I actively involved designers, researchers, and developers through the whole process to maximize the effectiveness of the design.

Why did we capture users brand in creation flow?

When users are editing the campaign, time-saving and task relevancy are immediate and obvious, compared to setting up a brand and applying it to the design during onboarding and post-publishing.

User flow (happy path)

Based on the ideas gathered, we first mapped out a whole user flow. Then, considering project time constraints, we decided to focus on the happy path because that is where the magic happens (especially the "brand setup" and "apply brand to templates" parts).


Thinking by doing: I had 6 versions of prototypes, more than 400 screens of design, and 11 design critique pods.

Design Guiding Principles

1) Prioritize efficiency over user control:
Since most users don't have time or experience, we want to create simple controls for complex decision sets.

2) Create the foundations for users to build brands:
Users are not designers and they might not even have a brand yet. We want to provide visual aids and packages to lower the starting friction.

Testing and iteration

I did internal heuristic evaluation when I had no access to user testing for this project.

an example of user test

I used speed-dating methods for testing when I worked on a game design project at IBM. We eventually did 2 rounds of speed-dating with 7 kids and 4 adults.