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Title: Design System Research
Category: UX & Research
Client: Capital One Messaging.XD Design System Committee
Role: Team Lead

This was an exciting project for me to lead, as it was my first foray into conducting my own User Research. The team I was working for has contact with many outside agencies and other internal design teams that must come through them for all Digital Messaging campaigns. There seemed to be some disconnect in achieving an adherence to the brand standards and technical functionality when clients would start projects and the goal was to find out how our standards and tools were working (or not) for the creative partners, whether they knew the tools were available, and how we could better help them in the future.

The project began Spring 2020 by creating a research plan. The first step was to increase my knowledge on research plans, their purpose, and how to present them. I then created a plan that fit the needs of the team, detailing our objective, what needed to be researched, how the project would be conducted, and information regarding our audience. Through discussions with the design system committee lead, we landed on the fact that we needed to learn more about how our creative partners use design systems and, more specifically, the systems we already have in place in order to make our partnership with them smoother, easier, and more collaborative. It was decided to use a combination of surveys and empathy interviews to gather this information.

Once that was detailed and presented to the larger Design System committee in early summer, I began setting up the actual project based on the plan and feedback I received. I gathered a smaller team from the committee who volunteered to help with conducting the interviews and to collaborate on what came out of them. We would go on to have bi-weekly meetings to keep on top of the project, bounce ideas off each other, and have weekly shareouts discussing the interviews we had each week.

Next, I reached out to a sample of the creative partners via email based on those who would often connect with the team from the various agencies and internal design teams. We received 16 volunteers, overall. The copywriter on our research team then helped us create and draft a pre-interview survey in google forms that was sent out to all the volunteers. This helped us gather basic information to start our conversations with them such as their role and experience level designing and/or writing for messaging.

Over the next couple months we conducted up to 3 empathy interviews per week with the members of my research team taking turns serving as the facilitators, notetakers, and meeting schedulers. In addition to the surveys and notes, we also recorded each session via Zoom.

Once the interviews were created, we had the task of sifting through the information and creating solutions. I aggregated the information we went through onto a spreadsheet— first organizing the full data by week and then summarizing them at the end. We also had a final shareout session to discuss the full information, thoughts, and possible solutions/next-steps. This was used to create a final presentation which included information, quotes, and graphs detailing who our partners were, how they were using the tools and systems already in place, what would make their job smoother, things that worked well, roadblocks they had, and any additional feedback they had to offer us.

I presented the final deck to the larger Design System Committee that October, with a revised version being presented to department leadership at the end of November. 3 new projects came out of this research project and created clear action that would be taken to improve the design systems.