I Led a multidisciplinary team of UX designers, developers and marketers to build a website to host D4SD, a civic innovation competition held in the larger San Diego area in 2020. The website supports participants in the collaborative design process where they come up with innovative solutions for the major city problems in San Diego, such as homelessness and public transportation issues.

2018.09 - 2019.12
UX Researcher &
Project Manager   
Figma, PS, Trello
The Design Lab

Check out the live website @d4sd.org

Identify & Immerse

      User Research + Literature review

We conducted in person interviews with business leaders in healthcare and transportation, educators in high school and middle school, college students and professors to extensively empathize with San Diego residents on how they would like to advance civic changes. We also did literature reviews to study the best practices in initiating collaborative civic innovations. With all the research, we gained the insights that people from different fields hardly get to sit together to discuss the problems existing in the city that they live in and thus we decided to push forward a civic innovation competition to achieve the goal of bringing people together to collaboratively design for San Diego. The image on the right is the user personas that we generated based on our interviews and it covers how different groups of people can fit into the competition and make an impact in advancing civic innovations.


      Style Guide + Prototypes on Figma

It took us two months to finish the prototypes on Figma. We created the information architecture first and we designed the main page in a storytelling way: Starting from the broadest question on “How can we make San Diego a better city“, we guide the audience to the 4 subfields of this question, including mobility, housing, public health and environment. We are hoping that audience can recognize the importance of these civic issues through these questions. At the end, we bring up D4SD 2020 as an approach for them to engage in solving these problems, answering the last question of “How can we work together to address these challenges?”

Build & Test

      User Test - Front-End Development - Usability Test

We created testing protocols and tested the Figma prototypes with 10+ undergrad and grad students in a lab setting. After the user tests, we gathered all the insights, discussed in team and iterated the prototype multiple times  to meet our targeted users’ needs and wants. For example, through the user testing, we learnt that people would like to find a button to join the competition while they were browsing the website and thus we decided to add a “Get Involved” section in the nav bar and thus users are able to see this option no matter which page they are on the website. Following the user testing, programmers in our team have developed a pilot version of the website. Right now we are constantly testing and iterating this version with a hope to make it public in the winter 2020. You can check out the current website @ https://d4sd.org

Lessons Learnt

      Project Management Skills

I took over the project manager for D4SD 2020 in summer 2019 and I gained valuable skills in leading a multidisciplinary team:

  • Before I took this position, every decision was made by the project manager, from what color to use for icons to what content to include in each page. This mechanism is not effective as the project manager is the only feedback provider whose opinions determine the direction of the product. Therefore I decentralized decision-making by holding feedback sessions to gather feedback from all phd students and post-docs in the lab. The UI designer and visual designer are able to make changes on their design based on these scholars’ feedback without consulting me for every detail. In this way, the team can get diverse opinions on people’s thoughts and feelings on the product and the products are designed based on actual user testing instead of the project manager’s preference.
  • I also innovated the way tasks are managed in the team. Before the team used the physical white boards to write down weekly tasks. However, information is easy to get lost and it always happened that people were not aware of what other team members were doing. So I decided to let the team use Trello, a Kanban style team management application, where team members can categorize the tasks, make immediate updates and see the progress of other team members’ tasks. This new working style made progress-tracking more organized and efficient.