Leena Choi
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How might we help novice designers actualize their ideas while learning human-centered design process?

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This is our capstone project where we collaborated with Parlay, a Seattle startup that aims to bring the design thinking process online for novice practitioners. My team conducted user research to redesign their web app that helps teams craft stronger concepts with tools for all stages of the innovation process.


3 months

My Role

UX Designer


User Research, UX Design



Our motivation behind this project came from our own experience in the field of User Experience Design. We felt that when students learn and implement User-Centered Design (UCD) process, they often follow the steps in the process without fully understanding why they are doing what they do. As we've experienced the novice phase before, we wanted to help others improve their ability to develop their ideas. In this project, we focused on the early stage of the design process.



Subject Matter Experts

We recruited 10 designers from industries and academics and conducted semi-structured interviews aiming to come up with a ground metric, so we can later compare with data from interviews with Novice designers.

Novice Designers

We then recruited 10 Novices, mostly students at the UW who have taken UX related courses such as intro to Human Centered Design. We conducted semi-structured interviews hoping to learn their perspective to design.


Affinity analysis

After transcribing all of our interviews, we wrote down findings to affinity diagramming and combined similar findings together to see the thematic groupings.



Based on the theme we found from the affinity analysis, we came up with 14 metrics to find the gap between experienced designers and novice designers.


Design opportunity

We compared numbers of themes that we generated from SME interviews, NP interviews and Parlay. Then, we looked for characteristics that had big gaps between the numbers. Highlighted characteristics are the ones with big gaps between the numbers.



After transcribing all of our interviews, we wrote down findings to affinity diagramming and combined similar findings together in order to see the thematic groupings.

Team Participation

UX experts heavily discussed the importance of team dynamics. Team participation is a huge factor of success for a project because understanding a team isn't just understanding the flow of a team or the progression of a project, but to understand the importance of other roles, your specific role, and each persons' individual strengths and weakness within their role that better a project's flow, handoff, and overall base quality.

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Aware of Reason

Justifying your decisions creates validity and strength to any work done within the project. Being aware of reasons not only reinforces the UX practitioners knowledge and understanding of a particular work, process, or decision but also persuade others about why it was done in the way it was done. UX experts we interviewed exhibited the ability to talk about why they made a decision while many of our novices made decisions based on articles, books without fully understanding reasons.

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Aware of Direction

Being aware of direction helps the individuals and teams understand clear and coherent goals for the success of the project. By understanding clear and coherent goals, they are more clear on what they need to do to achieve their respective goals, which lead them to achieve overall success.


Design Goal

Based on our findings, we defined 3 main goals for the new features.

  1. Help users to get to know their team members better

  2. Encourage users to justify their design decisions

  3. Present project direction to keep them focus on the right direction



With the three key defined goals in mind, we brainstormed feature ideas.


Site Map

After our ideation, we created site maps to see where our ideas can fit into the existing product.



Based on our ideation, we created hi-fi mockups to visually present our ideas.

Visual presentation of team dynamic

  1. Team dynamic flow is to show the narrative of the project and corresponding team members. This feature is added so users can be more aware of direction as well as how each member plays a role in a project.

  2. Team and task breakdown are to show the contribution as well as handoff of work through different phases of the design process. This encourages users to have a deeper understanding of team participation.

Encourage better team participation

Knowing more about your team members such as their goals, values, interests, skills, and other projects they might be working on can improve team participation.

Overview of project foundation

Project information (goals, success metrics, users, etc.) are to help users discuss and focus on why the team is creating this project. These contents are for users to be always aware of their reasons and directions.

Encourage justifications

When users move from one step to the other in the process, there will be a pop up window that encourages users to input why they are moving to the next step.



We curated all of our findings into a poster and presented it to Parlay and general audience at the HCDE Open House. As a result, we received Excellence in Communication Award.