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
Thoughts in progress on design, discovery and life
Get in touch
I grow up in one of China's biggest riverside port city, Chongqing. It is a mega industrial, hardy, blue-collar town that is known for spicy food, hot summers, fierce people.
In the past 11 years, I've been living in a tiiiny New Zealand city called Wellington, it is the cutest capital city with diverse culture, warm people, creative resourcefulness, eccentric fashion sense.
These two worlds have taught me a lot about diversity in human lives, differences in our mental models, how to not take our own version of "the world" for granted. The contrasting life styles and access to nature have also taught me about engaging with our land, living with scarcity/abundance, and finding citizenship and kinship in humanity.
This experience has shaped who I am as a person and what I do to enable and influence in the world as a designer.
Although most of the time I design systems and experiences to solve problems, I also make things that doesn't have a purpose but simply for an aesthetic experience or conceptual speculation.
I like to think computer programs are organisms, and I enjoy exploring the emotional qualities in human-computer interaction. I've built a few digital creatures across various medium, i.e. electronics, robotics, animation, wearable technology.
Sewing and mending clothes
Coffee and conversation
Writing & reading poetry
I'm always down to meet another human and hear your stories :)
Product design, user research, design leadership, discovery coach
For me a fulfilling career is one that enables continuous growth, learning, perspective-shifting and new connections -- not only for myself, but also the people I'm designing for, as well as the people that I work with, and the community we are all part of.
In my practice, UX design & research is never done for its own sake, but to benefit the goals of the team. I help product teams explore solutions that are valuable and strategic, but also enable the team to deliver it in a way that is nimble, feasible and responsive to learning.
My role is all about understanding humans, and designing for humans. This means practicing human-centred approach to problem solving, design with psychological drivers in mind, adopting anthropological methods to user research, all within a keen awareness of social cultural context we operate in.
I love building and growing highly effective teams, where we enrich each other's experiences and boost our mana as individuals and as a team. Work is better (and more fun) when we are empowered and feel safe to be ourselves, claim ownership, communicate effectively, and build on each others ideas.
Optimal Workshop 2018 - Current
Product design, user research, workshop facilitation, mentoring and coaching, design system, agile & scrum
ThunderMaps / SaferMe 2017 - 2018
Product management, user research, product strategy & design, brand & marketing design
Kope Studio 2015 - 2017
Client relations management, business ownership, product design, web design, brand design
Salted Herring 2014 - 2015
Web design, brand design, collateral design
Alphero 2013 - 2014
Mobile application design
Gecko Press 2012 - 2013
Interactive children's book design
Victoria University of Wellington 2010 - 2013
Bachelor of Design Innovation
Colleagues, collaborators, managers & clients on demand