Menlo Innovations


Menlo Innovations is a design and development agency based in Ann Arbor, MI. As a Product Designer, my role was largely focused on doing UX design work, accompanied by user research and product strategy. I cannot share the details of my work as it is under an NDA, but I can talk about the design process at Menlo.

As a designer at Menlo,

  • I was paired with a fellow designer throughout the day. To paint you a picture, that meant sharing a single computer, mouse, and keyboard between two people!
  • I co-designed wireframes for various B2B software. To enable effective collaboration, I practiced thinking out loud and asking for feedback often.
  • I worked in agile teams that operated on a weekly cadence. As designers, along with the actual design work, we estimated user stories, provided design support to front-end developers, and presented our work to clients.
  • I wrote user stories for every design I created, describing the intent and specs for the developers to work on.
  • I collaborated with the Project Manager for planning, prioritizing, and scheduling work based on business outcomes and user data.

Across different projects, I worked in these domains - furniture data management, church participation tracking, speaking bureaus, custom accounting systems, etc.

At Menlo, we followed a discovery and design process that used to be modified for different projects, based on client requirements, project outcomes, timelines, and budget. The process was aimed at helping clients think about the big picture and prioritize their business objectives.

Design process at Menlo Innovations

Reflections

  • My biggest takeaway was approaching the UX process as a risk mitigation tool! The user-centered design process helps you to test hypotheses, validate assumptions, and pivot when necessary. If done right, this can effectively help save on the development effort of a product. Helping clients think about the design and discovery work through this lens convinced them to invest in this process.
  • In diagnosing a problem, it is important to understand whether we're tackling the symptom or treating the actual problem.
  • All problems don't necessarily have a software-based solution. Sometimes, it's the process (workflow outside of using the software/tool) that needs to be modified to solve the problem.