Bank App Part II: Mock Ups and Lesson’s Learned


Since my last posting, I have taken my concept map created a mock-up of my new map. The designing, and creating process has been very fun. It was also very easy to get lost in the details of the visuals. Here are the results.

Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 5.35.28 PM Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 5.35.32 PM Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 5.35.37 PM Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 5.35.46 PM Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 5.35.58 PM Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 5.36.11 PM


When I set out on planning how to execute I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and jump right into an app to start my mock-up. Creating digitally is so gratifying especially with smart and beautiful software such as Sketch and Invision, and have your ideas take form so cleanly and quickly. The learning curve was extremely small as well. But if I had the chance to do this again, I would execute the planning MUCH differently.  This is what I’ve learned.

On the topic of planning. 

1. For the speed, cohesiveness, and complete ideas start with pen and paper!  When working with software, it is very easy to go down rabbit holes and spend hours fussing over details. I lost so much time tweaking, and am left with a less thoughtfully laid outflow.  While software makes it easy to tweak the details, pen an paper is easier for tweaking ideas and concepts. Additionally, the drawings would function as a checklist of what to do next, and give direction every time you walk away from the project and come back to it.

2. Ask for feedback early. Because I did not have a complete sketch, I didn’t start getting feedback until I finished a few mockups digitally. 

3. Stop fussing about the details. That can come later.

4. Don’t use your first time doing a project as a time to learn tools. 

Systems of Support and Demand on a Post Traditional Student

In early December 2018, my classmates and I delivered a presentation on our research findings about the post-traditional student experience, seen in this Facebook video.  My teammates and I studied this topic through the lens of “how does working impact the post-traditional student’s educational experience?”

Having gone through the data, we came to the insight that, while many students encounter obstacles along their academic journey, the need to work and establish financial stability often stretches the working student so thin that any obstacle they encounter becomes a speed bump, interrupting even derailing their plans and motivations for education. From technical difficulties to family instability, all challenges they face were equally impactful.

Recently I have read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.  In his book, he eloquently lays out how habits an events in a person’s life may seem small and insignificant, but in the long run, will add up to have a grand effect in the long run. The reason being is that each habit or even sets an upward or downward trajectory. It is only over time that we can see the big picture effect of the positive or negative trajectory. Take for instances the way a plane ascends and descends. You must set an angle for the plan to tip upwards or downwards, and it is only after a few minutes that you can reach thousands of feet above the ground or land on the ground.

When following the stories of our participants, we heard a common thread which was exactly that, a series of negative events that would over time build up to create a massive obstacle that prevents students from succeeding in school.  We also heard from students that opposite where the people and events in their lives have had a net positive trajectory, and they are well on their way to graduating.  In the cases of student that seems to break from these negative events and challenges act as a system against them, what if there was a way to engineer a system to counteract the negative on that steers students of their educational course? What if we can identify the missing pieces or identify and priorities the challenges to help course correct?

In the following figure, I’ve mapped out a high level-understanding on the elements that play a role on a student and the educational institutions, support structures and employers impact the working student.


In doing so, I have noticed that there are a lot of loose ends that require the working students to analyze, process and connect the dots. Tragically, as a working student, your mental capacities have already been exhausted by school and an undesirable job.

In next week’s blog, I am to take a deeper dive into the elements that may be missing, as well as a step out to understand what human factors can work to overcome the system of challenges a working student faces.

MY (very own) UFCU : A Story of Redesigning an App

This week at AC4D, I took on the challenge of redesigning my banking app. Like most adults, I have a handful of banking options because no single bank offers all the services I want and need. For this project, I chose the University Federal Credit Union’s (UFCU) mobile banking app.

Setting out on this experiment, immediately I had some choices to make between a banking app that I no longer bank with but still keep around or the new banking app that I use only one or two features out of.  I opted to audit the app of my older bank, UFCU, a seemingly simpler one. I felt like an imposter because I haven’t actually banked (as in depositing my paychecks into and use a debit card) with them for years. As I earned more money over time, I found myself not getting what I needed from UFCU. I don’t even know if my debit card is still active since I last used it in 2013!  I mostly keep my membership because I know that my tenure with them will get me a low loan interest rate, and even better customer service. And that is about the only reason I use UFCU for, loans.

The sad balance of my old UFCU accounts.

This mobile app was entirely new to me. And I have to say that it was very lovely compared to the first time I enrolled in 2011-2012, on my old Motorola Razor flip phone, remember that one? Back then phones still fit in your back pocket, and we didn’t have touch screens and touch ID sign in. Everything, including UFCU’s mobile app, has changed so much. I was impressed with the new UFCU.

While auditing and mapping the feature of the mobile app I kept asking myself “Who are their customers now? Why did they prioritize the features that they did?” It certainly was not for me. Here is a look at the current state of the app.


So in my redesign, I imagined a blend of the customer I use to be, and the customer I am now.  Pretending as if this redesign was for the current project, and wanting to maintain architecture as to not alienate existing customer while surfacing the features that would have been handy when if I still had a loan with them.  Here are the results.


If only I can add ‘full ATM fee refund’ as a feature and ‘earning airline points with card purchases’, then I would be set to coming back to UFCU.

PeletonU & AC4D: Digging Deep into Education and the Workforce.

Another mystery to be solved

As the second quarter of the 2018-2019 Austin Center for Design kicks off, I am excited to share that the 2019 AC4D class will be working closely with PeletonU, a unique group of people who provide comprehensive support to help get post-traditional students through college.

In a team of three, Gerald Codina, Aaron Steinman, and I will be exploring one facet of a growing problem.

A Growing Problem

Growing up, we were often told that the path to a happy secure future is to go to school, work hard and the seeds you have sewn in your efforts will fruit. Sadly, this is not the system that about 44 million people experience. Collectively, student debt in the U.S. is over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. Year over year, we witness this number grows exponentially. Clearly, something is amiss. Were we lied to as children? Or did we not work nearly as hard as we thought? The answer is a bit of both, or neither depending on how you slice the pie.

The system that has been set is a dated and broken one given today’s standards. Over the last 15-years, the average college tuition has steadily increased. Where tuition in this statistic represents the cost of only 1-year of education + room and fees. Keep in mind that while an bachelor’s degree is expected to graduate in 4 years (tuition X 4), but in reality, the typical student will take 6-years to complete college (tuition X 6). Depending on where you went to school, if you were in- or out- of state, how long you attended, it’s not impossible to imagine a debt number in the 6 figures. Even with the staggering collective numbers, the law treats education debt differently than all other debt. Under the provisions of Chapter 13, student debt is effectively like a terminal illness, you can try to treat it with blunt tools, or lose everything to discharge yourself of it, more on the topic here.

Elephant in the Room

We all have debt, but we don’t often talk about how we get there. This is not an accident. Debt has a negative effect on one’s psychology, putting up in a ‘scarcity mindset’ that has real implications on our decision-making process.

At junctures of complex problems like this, it is important to recognize that this is a man-made problem. In the spirit of optimism and practicality, we MUST talk about the issues honestly, to understand them deeply, before we can begin to pick apart the messy pieces.

Our Intent

My team and I will be working closely with PeletonU, Advisors, students and several designers to understand the decision-making process that financially independent students face while considering their current state and employment. We aim to understand, map and help navigate this complex environment and consider all the possibilities for a brighter future for all those involved.

Creating Something from Nothing

Having free reign and autonomy on a task is simultaneously the most exhilarating and daunting experience. In our final Studio Foundations assignment, I teamed up with Kay Wyman, Gerald Codina, and Aaron Steinman to start with an empty slate and make something that fits the format of a digitized storyboard that showcasing all that we have learned in the last three months, give or take a week. We learned A LOT.

Initially, the entire team had doubts, and real concerns about the time constraints considering the fact that we have two other projects, presentations due, and service slices to prepare for. Effectively, we were chicken with our heads cut off for part of the time.

In an impressive display of collective strategizing, prioritization, respectful and responsive communication and team empathy, the four of us gathered what energy we can find and finished something lovely, granted to our own standards.

During these pressing times we, surprisingly, were able to draw from our past experiences from individual research projects, and theory class’s ideas to implement the problem-solving methodologies we’ve entertained, mostly abstractly.  We defined the element needed, all the moving pieces, time constraints, the problem to solve and desired end-state.  All the while, we actively project managed the tasks and built-in flexible and collaborative opportunities as much as possible to support the conflicting schedules we each had. The following video blog is each member’s reflection of the process.

Here is a link to our video blog.

Please note that while I named for four team members, including myself, the video blog consists of three. As mentioned before some of us has unavoidable obligations. None the less each person carried the weight of the responsibilities to their best abilities and contributed amazingly to the end result.

Behind the Story with Kim

 The Project & The Student

Today, I am thrilled to share a little story with you. Spoiler, the plot is simple, the problem is cheesy, and the solution is even less enticing. None the less I am still THRILLED to share this clumsy anecdote with you because of how the progress it represents in my brief journey as an AC4D student. IDSE102 Design, Society and the Public Sector, has hands down been my most challenging class.

In retrospect, the challenge was not what I imagined it to be, that is the volume of the reading itself. As someone who struggles with language and reading, I have always had a visceral reaction to reading, and hard to manage anxieties around it despite my love for learning the content. As it turns out, the biggest struggle with this course was the required pace and depth of comprehension, and how quickly I was asked to formalize an opinion on the new ideas, and synthesize the multiple ideas authors I’ve read about PLUS my personal opinion into a brief and concise narrative that can be explained in SIX minutes. SIX MINUTES! Most ideas in conversations about a single topic between friends will take longer than six minutes to convey. In keeping with the attitude of learning by failing hard and fast, the moment I felt a degree of competency around what was asked, the ask changes.

That said, I came into AC4D a terrible artist, imagine the illustrative equivalent of your singing in the shower when no one is around. I had no idea how and what tools to use to illustrate digitally. I couldn’t tell you a complete story without the listener getting bored or irritated from my ramblings. Moreover, I absolutely hated presenting and talking at people.

Analyzing isn’t easy, comprehensions are harder. Developing an opinion, synthesizing ideas into a compelling, cohesive and concise manner is a tremendous skill and task.  This story is the product of the coming together of the learned skill, my attempt at practicing the problem-solving skills while trying to synthsize a a cohessive concise idea. This quarter and course have proved rewardingly challenging. My sincerest appreciation to Scott Gerlach for crafting this experience and the challenges it came with.

In the story I’d like to share here with you,  I attempt to bring together in a hopefully clear, and concise manner the viewpoints of seven authors I have read from in the last two weeks, with my opinion laced into the direction, outcome of this little story.

The Opinions

In short, design as a verb has been around since the beginning of time when man first started creating. Yes, caveman tools count. Through the different ways and different things man has tried to create, the definition, process, and application of ‘design’ have been ever changing. The conversations have recently grown more intense around the meaning of what design is as a result of the intent that people have when designing. There is a bit of a race to the definition among the players in the design community through the act of doing, showing, telling and teaching. The seven authors I have read from all take a firm stance on what it means to be a designer, how to solve problems, and who should be designers.

Recognizing up front that my ideas and opinions on the topic need more time to develop its flavors properly, I’d still like to share the pieces that I’ve learned with you.

Design as a concept and process is a handy tool for problem-solving. Problem-solving is always great as long as the intent it is done with if for improvement of the society or group as a whole and not just for a single person. While everyone should have access to, and possess the skills of problem-solving, we should all be aware that there is no definitive right or wrong solution, and no permanent solution for that matter. Problems arise from human interaction, with each other, with the environment, with animals, with ideas. Problems are quite literally a human construct. As humans are ever changing, ever evolving, so are our ideas, needs, and problems. Thus, problem-solving is not a skill to fix, but rather a skill for maintaining balance in the world we interact with.

In this short story where Scooby-Doo fakes his own dog-napping for some desperately wanted Scooby snacks. I have positions each author as a character in the story where they are detectives who are trying to solve the case, aka the problem, that Scooby has fabricated for his appetite and desires. The take away is that in isolation, not one perspective is ‘right,’ though looking at every individual element and gaining an intimate understanding each clue and element to the problem is essential to get to a place where you can find a solution. It is only after taking a step back and synthesizing the elements of the problem with some degree or your personal experience and intuition that you can begin to find a viable solution.

The Story

Kim IDSE102 A4, Slides 1

Kim IDSE102 A4, Slides 2

Kim IDSE102 A4, Slides 3

Kim IDSE102 A4, Slides 4

Kim IDSE102 A4, Slides 5

Kim IDSE102 A4, Slides 6

List of Readings and The Authors.

  • The Structure of Ill-structured Problems by  Herb A. Simon
  • Evolution of the Mind: A Case for Design Literacy by  Chris Pacione
  • Discovering Design Ability by Nigel Cross
  • Serious Creativity by Edward DeBono
  • Design Thinking for Social Innovation by Tim Brown, Jocelyn Wyatt
  • Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning by Horst Rittel, Melvin Webber
  • Wicked Problems in Design Thinking by Richard Buchanan


Stories from Inside We Are Blood.

Last week, my teammates, Zev Powell and Catherine Woodiwiss, and I wrote a blog about a project we are working on with the local non-profit We Are Blood. We have spoken with a number of people at all touchpoints involved in making each pop-up mobile blood donation event happen. Setting up, servicing your community, and packing up requires an immense amount of coordination, organization, skill, and commitment on the part of all individuals involved. Impressively, this is done on a daily basis throughout the Central Texas area.

This week, we have taken on the task of breaking down all of the conversations we’ve had into bite-sized pieces in order to begin our team’s next task—to identify themes across the various conversations we’ve had and synthesize potential areas of opportunity.

Here’s a glimpse of the space we will be living in, literally and mentally, over the next few days:

Our Office

our office


While this is happening, we’d like to leave you with a few of the voices that make the incredible act of donating possible on a daily basis, and a few of the thoughts they’ve left us with.


Meet Jane.

Jane is a loving grandmother, mother, sister, daughter, and neighbor. She’s been a blood donor for the majority of her adult life. After her recent donation, she told us her origin blood donor story: In college, a friend had insisted that Jane go with to a blood drive that was on their campus. With persisting anxieties, Jane obliged and went along. It was when she was on the drawing table as she was actively donating that her anxieties reappeared. She witnessed a sizeable athlete on the table next to her complete his donation, get off the table, then collapse to the ground. Convinced that she would follow suit, Jane apprehensively completed her donation, hopped off the table, and was positively surprised to find that she is perfectly fine! It was from this day that she realized that this very special process of donating a piece of herself to save a life of someone in her community is very much something she can do; and is so special in part because not everyone can donate. While Jane has donated for a long time, the feelings of anxiety have recently cropped up once again, due to her age. Today, Jane struggles with balancing her identity as a blood donor with the reality that she may not be able to do this much longer. Not being able to give because she might not meet the health requirements as a donor is very much something she thinks about every time she makes plans to go donate again.


Meet Pat.

Pat is a long-time staff member of the mobile blood donation efforts. He’s worked at every touch point of the process, making mobile blood drives happen, from packing the equipment, unloading, to working directly with community organizers and donors. Naturally, Pat has developed a keen sense of empathy for the donors and staff alike. The staff that makes up We Are Blood’s mobile team, Pat says, are “the backbone of the company. That they’re the ones that are bringing in the blood, they’re the ones that are doing all the work to make sure that we meet our community’s goals. So having that understanding makes me know how to, take care of them a little bit better.” Treating others with care is key in all parts of the process. When speaking about donors visit, whether it is the first or the 100th visit, Pat says it’s an “important interaction when they walk into the room and see the blood drive for the first time. The first interaction with anybody is going to be when somebody greets them. That sometimes will determine their mood for the rest of the day.”

It does not escape him that there are limits outside of We Are Blood’s direct control. Not everyone can give blood, a sentiment echoed by Jane. While Jane spoke about individual physical limitations, Pat brought to our attention the regulative limitation. Prior to 2010, the FDA has placed a permanent deferral on men who have had sex with other men (MSM) who wanted to donate blood. The permanent deferral was revisited as the demands and need for donated blood supplies increased. In 2014, the FDA has updated their policy on MSM. “Based on the evidence now available, FDA has changed its recommendation from the indefinite deferral for MSM to a 12 month blood donor deferral since last MSM contact.”, While changes are happening, there are still regulatory reason that the size of potential blood donors is limited.


People Just Want to Give a Little Piece Of Themselves.

Throughout our conversations, everyone we spoke to expressed a similar sentiment, from donors to We Are Blood staff members alike.

Joseph, a long time educator says, It makes you feel elite, almost because not everybody can. I’ll ask students if it’s their first time. ‘How did it go?’ I’ll tell them it’s really cool, and I’m proud of them, and stuff.

Greta, who works in the tech industry and has been deferred several times says about donating blood, says I think it’s a good thing to do and it doesn’t cost you anything. There are lots of people who would like to donate and can’t. If I can, I should, because it’s one thing I can do. It’s community—everyone helps in the way they can.”

At the end of the day, a shortage for donor blood supply is a real issue that We Are Blood works tirelessly to address. The cost of not contributing to those needs is the life of a patient, a child, someone about to have surgery, a stranger, a neighbor, or a family member. If the thoughts we’ve shared with you feels very open-ended and full of complex human issues then perfect! This is the space and stage my teammates and I are at as we continue on our journey and work with We Are Blood, and immersing ourselves in these ideas over the coming days. Stay tuned.

A Designer’s Role

An Opportunity to Define.

Over the last decade, the role of Design has grown leaps and bound. The design has branched into many areas and taken on various names including service and system design, interaction design, human factors, human-computer interaction and more, where each one has a unique approach and focus.

Despite the variations and nuances between each field of design, at the core is a unique opportunity. As the methods or design and the value it can provide gains recognition and acceptance, designers have a unique opportunity to define their role in the world of building things.

With the guidance and prominent voices of various authors at the forefront of this designer’s role discussion, I have attempted to define the designer’s role relative to the topic the purpose of the design, and the quality of the result of it.

Designing With or Designing For.

To design with a group,  individuals, or with a purpose is to be empathetic to the user of the system. Successfully designing with requires that the designer attempts to understand the underlying the nature of the situation and try to create a thing that with the focus of addressing the multi-faceted issues, and not just one isolated factor of the system. Additionally, the designer must include the user response and feedback throughout the development lifecycle.

To design for is to collect data and utilize system users as an inspiration for a new idea. The user’s input and response to that design are not necessary.  The newly created thing does not need to solve a problem, but when it does the issue addressed does not capture a complex nature or element of the entire system.


Making something Holistic or Sterile.

Holistic designs are things that are made with the focus of addressing a more complex issue or for a more complex purpose. Some examples are addressing culture, identity, or environmental and sustainability goals. These are all topics are complex in nature and difficult to analyze.  In designing with a holistic purview, the result will often feel more manmade, organic, and have a degree of emotional understanding.

Whereas sterile designs are things that are made with little or no focus on an issue. Designs in this category can be done beautifully for purpose of pleasure or to solve an issue inspired by users but ultimately is defined mostly by the researcher.  In designing with a sterile purview, the result will often feel more simple in nature, fact-based and lacking deep value.


Author’s Position On the Role of a Designer.

The position held and arguments made by each author has landed them a spot on the follow 2×2 Figure.

Designer's Role 2x2

The articles used for this evaluation are:

  • Designs on Dignity: Perceptions of Technology Among the Homeless – Christopher A. Le Dantec, W. Keith Edwards
  • A Tale of Two Publics: Democratizing Design at the Margins – Christopher A. Le Dantec, et al
  • The Product Ecology: Understanding Social Product Use and Supporting Design Culture – Jodi Forlizzi
  • What we talk about when we talk about context – Paul Dourish
  • Cultural Probes and the Value of Uncertainty – William Gaver, et al
  • A Social Vision for Value Co-creation in Design – Liz Sanders & George Simons
  • Going Deeper, Seeing Further: Enhancing Ethnographic Interpretations to Reveal More Meaningful Opportunities for Design – Jane Fulton Suri & Suzanne Gibbs Howard
  • Experience Prototyping – Marion Buchenau & Jane Fulton Suri
  • Technology First, Needs Last: The Research-Product Gulf – Don Norman
  • The Value of Synthesis in Driving Innovation – Jon Kolko

Just Do It, Now.

Today is the first day of the 4th week at AC4D. Time and space have lost all meaning and sense. In the past, when I would reach this mentality and physical state of exhaustion, it would always feel bad everywhere and about everything. Losing track of things, tasks I need to have done, people I owe things to was the worst feeling and would take a toll emotionally, mentally and physically. The circumstance and rigorous demand of the coursework have put me in a similar state of sleep deprivation, failing to meet expectation, deliver, and grasp concepts. What is strange is that I this time, is that I don’t share the same sense of self-loathing and guilt that I would use to feel. I don’t know why this is the case but I would definitely have to put my money on the sense of hope this program has provided me.

I don’t love the things I am doing and producing. As a matter of fact, I am incredibly embarrassed at the quality of what I have been putting together and turning. At the same rate, my entire goal was to complete a many of the tasks as possible while still creating something with some context, beautiful, and as complete as I can make the idea (especially when Time is not in my favor). I am surprised at the rate that I can produce something decently meaningful, and that gives me a sense of pride.

In the process of failing so much, so fast, and having to get creative about how to build systems and processes around my weakness has made the event of a ‘failure’ still feel like a win. At the end of the evenings when I like to spend my time reflecting on the ways what I’m learning will change my future lifestyle, this is something that excites me. Failing hard, fast and learning quickly is the ‘instant gratification’ form of learning, with practical actionable items on which I can iterate, modify, improve, test and quickly learn if it works.

This week, I’m learning that if I don’t do the ‘thing’ that I say I will do at the moment, life will find it’s way to make it harder for me to get back to that thing/idea/feeling/task. Even in writing this entry, I realized that I am posting late because I needed to make the time to sit down and do the work regardless of other pressing deadline. If I don’t make myself do the thing, I will never get it started.

Learning Styles

This past week was a first of many things.

In Interaction Design Research and Synthesis, where we are learning about contextual inquiry, research and are in the early stages of research, Matt Franks identify the parts that do and do not work with my team’s research plan. Seeing the live assessments and getting to ask “Why?” showed me the strange balance of specific yet none specific place my team and I need to be in when starting a research plan. Coming from a world of product development, hard deliverable this was something would have trouble learning without seeing and experiencing first hand.

This same “mind blown” experience occurred again in my last Studio Foundation class with Pat Marsh, when we studied the very technical foundation of two-point-perspective illustrations. I had spent a good 30-minutes of class time trying to understand which imaginary lines to follow when trying to draw a ‘perfect’ eclipse that follows the rules of perspective. When the light finally turned on, I can feel my brain ready for a nap. In contrast, I witness Pat and fellow classmates confidently put together these shapes in the right place and with the correct angles to quickly create the illusion of 3-dimensional figures.

It’s a strange feeling how to know that even after so many years of being a so-called adult, I still have so much room to learn by seeing. Learning by seeing and doing is a method that I typically see in my nieces and nephews. While I am aware that in many cases learning is something that must be done by experience. I am just still surprised at how, in my last work, it was easy for me to be oblivious of that style of education and of how some content requires that you learn by doing and seeing. This motivates me to keep a wider eye open to see what more I am missing the environment around me.