Case Study
Platform Design Strategy
Task 1: Standardize the process of connecting another account
Our users were busy. Managing a small business is a lot of work. They often relied on many different services and accounts to get things done. It was clear that QuickBooks needed a safe and easy way to seamlessly integrate with all their accounts. There were already several one-off integrations, but they were modest first attempts, done separately by different teams across the organization.

My first task was to partner with a Product Manager and another Interaction Designer to provide a single connection experience that supported all the existing integrations, and would be flexible enough to continue to support new integrations as well. We reached out to all the designers who had worked on one of the integrations and reviewed all the requirements and design approaches.
Getting the Business logic approved
I crafted a flowchart to demonstrate how we could support all the existing connections with a single back end framework, and reviewed and iterated on it with my two teammates.

I presented this flowchart to managers and design leaders and iterated again to incorporate their feedback.
Brainstorming a branded "connected" moment
For the final moment, when the user has successfully connected one account to another and data is flowing, we had to give the users something special, both to encourage future connections and to make sure users would instantly understand what had happened, so they were prepared to move on into their first time use.

I organized and led a brainstorming session with over a dozen Product Managers, Designers, and Engineers that resulted in a bunch of interesting conversations and inspiring ideas. I cataloged the options we uncovered and outlined the unique value of each idea. I pulled them together into a single, simple (but powerful) concept, that ultimately got us the best of all worlds.
A better first step to reduce fear
By testing our prototypes with customers, we learned why historically so many would abandon the process at the authorization page. They didn’t want to risk screwing up their finances for something that might not “work how they want.”

Our leaders were urging us to reduce the number of steps and clicks, and we did overall, but with this insight, I was confident we needed to add a step as well. One that could tell the user how this would work, in context of how they would benefit from it shortly. I got it approved and customers in the lab loved it. When launched, the authorization step conversion increase nearly 10x.
Adding animations to the final visual design
Since we wanted to do everything we could to make the authorization step less intimidating, I also prosposed contracting a motion graphics animator to help me turn an illustration I pieced together from other design system assets, into a friendly, three-phase animation to further illustrate to users what was happening behind the scenes, and help them feel safe sharing their data and credentials.

Utilizing much of the existing design system and patterns, I was able to quickly pull together an Axure prototype with final design, complete with early animations that we could test in the lab with customers. You can view the prototoype here
Crafting a consistent incoming-data experience
So we standardized the connection experience, but what about the experience of using the product afterwards? There were still discrepencies in how users would be able to view and manage the flow of incoming data. We were tasked with crafting a framework and design strategy to standardize the UX of using and managing data integrations within the broader product experience. We had lots of ideas and wanted to converge on a general direction. We devised, planned, and executed an extended design jam with a dozen designers, managers and design leaders.

We divided everyone into three groups, gave them each a unique concept for how things might work to analyze. We had each group pressure test their concept with the same set of examples, to evaluate whether their group’s framework would work for all cases.

After some time, we brought all groups together to discuss their conclusions. Through discussions, we aligned on some core principles for how data should come into QuickBooks, and how we could design the system for it.
Sharing the story, strategy, and requirements
Even though we had done the research, collaborated on the strategic directions, and understood the opportunity space, our work was not done. The entire department had to be caught up on our progress so they could provide their perspective and input.

I created several slide decks and process illustrations with dozens of custom charts and illustrations I crafted. I presented to leaders a vision of how our platform could work and the impact it could have on our business.
Task 3: Illustrate the ideal end-to-end experience
Once we had the general framework for how all kinds of integrations should work, we were ready to tell the story of a representative end-to-end experience, from the moment a user discovers the option to connect an account - to their very last use.

I provided two views. One: a six-slide comic-strip style transcript/chat between user and software (and accountant), and the other: a single slide that highlights the phases of the lifecycle and briefly describes the key value and design strategy for making each step a nice and easy transition to the next.

This enabled leaders to better plan, staff, and negotiate the various opportunities for our engagements with strategic partners like Google, PayPal, Amex, TSheets, etc.
Task 4: Apply strategy to a redesign of the key experiences
It was time to use our integration strategy (and other strategies evolving across the product) for a specific redesign, the most important data integration in QuickBooks: Connecting Banks and other Financial Institutions.

The existing bank connection experience as it existed was underperforming, and needed a change. I joined the QuickBooks Core design team, and along with two new designers, a new Product Manager, and a new Content Writer, was tasked with redesigning the Accounting and Banking experiences. I led brainstorms and whiteboarding sessions that led to us quickly illustrating UI concepts and workflows for desktop or mobile, before taking them to the computer.
Illustrating workflows with UI concept illustrations
I took my whiteboard sketches and turned them into UI concepts and prototypes that allowed stakeholders to visualize the new experience we were planning.

This was a Design-led project, and I was the leader of a highly dynamic process that included daily collaborative sessions with many talented writers and designer.

The engineering team was working on a huge, long-term enhancement to enable new experiences, and these designs were used to inform the requirements. This ensured the new data platform would power many years of great user experiences to come.
Task 5: Unlock Google partnership with a clear vision
There’s a much longer story to be told here, but ultimately my final integration project was leading an initiative with my PM to establish a strategy and vision for how Google and QuickBooks should work together. Through surveys and plenty of customer inerviews, we uncovered opportunities to give both QuickBooks and Google customers a new suite of features to help their business thrive (and help ensure long-term user retention for both platforms).

I created and presented both near and long-term concept prototypes to the GM of QuickBooks (now CEO of Intuit) Sasan Goodarzi and Google VP Diane Greene, which unlocked several initiatives that were then staffed (and are still executing this vision).