Getting a home loan can feel opaque and intimidating to the average person. With pages and pages of legal jargon to navigate (not to mention large sums of money on the line!), it can feel overwhelming to understand what is happening, why, what questions to ask, and how to protect yourself.

I became a first-time homeowner several years ago and refinanced my mortgage twice since then. I’ve worked with two different lenders: one operating primarily through phone and email, the other (Sofi) operating largely through their software. …

During my tenure at Stack Overflow, one of my team’s major goals was to increase job applications submitted through our product. We knew that search was the primary path through which people found and applied to jobs, yet we hadn’t invested in improvements in years. I was tasked with researching and designing areas that would improve the job search experience by helping users quickly and easily find jobs that they’d want to apply to.

Current state

Current state for job search

I started by analyzing the current state of job search, digging into usage analytics, and reviewing existing qualitative feedback. I identified a few key problem areas:

Problem #1: Easy-to-use, desirable filter options were either not available or accessible only through advanced syntax search, which saw very low usage and required users to enter complex queries to run even the most basic searches. …

A question and answer site for students and enthusiasts of the Japanese language.

During my tenure at Stack Overflow, I was tasked with designing an identity and visual design for Japanese Language Stack Exchange, a question and answer site for students and enthusiasts of the Japanese language.

Research and concept development

When developing early concepts, I drew inspiration from user feedback, Japanese art and writing, and Japanese aesthetic philosophy.

First, I scoured existing ideas from the community for the site’s design aesthetic. I was interested in learning about their design ideas as well as the metaphors and experiences that inspired their ideas.

One thing that resonated with me was the nuanced, challenging experience of learning a new language. As a semi-fluent Korean speaker, I’ve often found myself communicating in basic vocabulary, removed of the embellishments and nuances that intuitively came to me in English. While frustrating at times, I experienced depth and beauty in this simplicity. I could say to my relatives, “thank you for your kindness.” I could not easily embellish that with jokes or comments that I might otherwise deploy to fill space or deflect from the weight of that sentiment. …


Donna Choi

I write about user experience, leadership, and research. Product design @ RStudio. http://donnachoi.com

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