It is hard work turning words into valuable knowledge and insights at the pace needed: UX practitioners simply don't have the time to fully unpack the learnings from all the conversations with their customers, and this wasted empathy is a shame!
My team at Optimal Workshop is on a mission to build tools that help people who do qualitative research easily make sense of their data, and quickly derive insights that matter.
How exciting to be tackling a problem like this!
As a product designer, I was primarily responsible for designing -- websites, apps, solutions -- in my current role, I focus on enabling my cross-functional team to explore solutions together. We discover opportunities, understand people's needs, figuring out the best solutions, crafting the experiences as a team.
The hardest thing about innovation is to be comfortable with the unknown, and accept that our assumptions could be wrong and our ideas may not work. An open-hearted curiosity towards the unknown is an essential quality, if we want to get anywhere that is interesting or new.
As a team, we are constantly practicing skills to get comfortable with refuting our own assumptions through experimentations, celebrating critical constructive feedback, as well reframing ideas that are "not working" as markers of learning and growth.
At Optimal Workshop, I'm lucky to work among a group of talented and empathetic humans that knows how to enjoy life. It is a workplace where we celebrate our full-selves as people, care for each other deeply, and talk honestly and openly.
It is enjoyable, humbling and inspiring to be working among these great humans that I love!
+ Talking to customers
+ Getting "brutal" feedback from customers
+ Learning our hypothesis or assumptions are wrong
+ Jamming ideas around a whiteboard
+ Bouncing off from a brilliant idea someone just shared
+ Getting honest critique and feedback from team members
+ Seeing my team grow new skills
+ Seeing developers conduct their own user interviews
+ Sharing lunch, playlist, gifs with my colleagues
I've been working on
Enterprise tier services
Sitewide brand & UI refresh
Insights management tool
Qualitative analysis tool
Generative user research
Uncover user insights
Feed into product strategy
Champion design thinking and discovery mindset
What I do
As my design practice grew, it becomes apparent that clients don't hire designers for the "design", they hire us to help their businesses grow. I decided to run a design business so that I can empathise with my clients on what really matters to them as business owners.
As the design studio of one, I had to try on some new roles i.e. business owner, marketing manager, salesforce, account manager, project manager, accountant. This "undercover mission" gave me valuable insight into how design can fit into the world of other roles.
I primarily worked with startups and small businesses, which are usually lead by people who deeply intimate with the work they do: they are not only passionate about products they build, many of whom also treat their staff and customers as if they are families. They have inspired me to embrace the same intimacy with my work and people that I work with.
Putting this intimacy in practice meant caring for my clients as my friends, seeing the world from their eyes, delving into their domain, and providing recommendations with their best interests in mind. Work was most rewarding when I saw my client happy and their businesses grow.
Resource was a constant constraint, since my clientele was mainly small businesses, startups and social enterprises. This meant everything I worked (which my clients paid for) had to deliver value and impact. It also meant that we had to work iteratively, efficiently, with flexibility. Most importantly, it was a constant negotiation to strive for the optimal outcome for all parties involved.
I can't think of a better training for effectiveness.
Although I positioned myself as a freelancer, I regularly teamed up with other collaborators to tackle bigger projects. I've also embedded myself in a few dev teams as the additional UX resource. There's power in numbers, especially when tackling a larger prize. This experience was a great experiment to try out all sorts of team structures and work relationships.
As the my client base grew, I partnered with Ian Loh to establish a small design agency under the name of Kope Studio. We embraced the same humanist values, and focused on delivering most impact to our wonderful clients, through every interaction we've had with them.
+ Launching a website that the client is proud of
+ Watching lit-up faces when I pitch a design or concept
+ Seeing website, apps, logos that I've worked on out in the wild
Clients I worked with
My key responsibilities are
Define user flow, IA, UX
Craft visual language & UI
Visualise user journey
Consultation for UX strategy
What I did
Hi-fi visual mockup
Brand identity design
Design system & UI kit
Provide developer UI support
1. design education: I want to share my skills in design, research and discovery with more people. I'd like to see what happens if the skills of problem solving, optimising, communication, intuition, collaboration, exploration is widely applied to other corners of life.
2. teach English or Chinese: I'm happy to teach anyone who wants to learn these two languages, or curious about what is life like China and New Zealand.
3. visit places I've not been, and see how humans from around the world live their lives. If you live outside of China, NZ, I'd like to visit you!
4. apply my skills in discovery, research, design, prototyping to solve meaningful problems, and explore opportunities that can contribute to human flourishing.
5. cross-pollinate social science discoveries with design thinking: using economics, psychology and anthropology knowledge to reframe challenges and create new solutions
Topics to be explored
Participatory design methods
Design for behavioural economics
Design for community living
Design for eco-living and sustainability
Design and tech ethics
Get in touch
Sewing and mending clothes
Coffee and conversation
Writing & reading poetry
I'm always down to meet another human and hear your stories :)