Apple - An Overview
I'm currently a Senior UX/UI Designer at Apple on the Field Service Training team. While I am unable to share any designs of the projects I've worked on and shipped, I can share a high level overview of the projects, in addition to some whiteboard sketches and my roles/responsibilities at Apple.
My Role: Senior UX/UI Designer
I am a UX/UI Designer focusing on web applications and desktop/tablet website design. I work on designing internal tools for employees and consumer facing websites for both Apple employees and external workers. Further, I'm responsible for user research and user testing at various stages of the product design and development process.
To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I cannot share any visuals and have omitted confidential information. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Apple.
- Help to define the user interface for Apple products.
- User research, user testing, wireframes, mockups, prototypes and interaction design.
- Assist in defining business objectives and goals.
- Gauge the usability of new and existing products (through testing and heuristic evaluations) and making constructive suggestions for change.
- Storytell and frame problems for a diverse audience of stakeholders, helping them envision the opportunities (Presentations and BRDs).
- Collaborate with Product Management and Engineering counterparts and experience working with collaborators across time zones (UK for accessibility and India for engineering).
- Ensure that all designs are meeting accessibility standards and review coded designs through a usability and functionality lens.
The Team: Lines of Communication
Since Apple is a large company with many teams spanning multiple countries and continents, I interface with a number of individuals and teams throughout the world. Below is a summary of my main points of contact during a typical work week:
The Broader Team
18 individuals including Instructional Designers, Front-End Developers, Copy Editors, Project Managers and Executives.
4 front-end developers and 1 manager. I sit with all members of my team and work with the developers daily. Strong collaboration and communication has been key to the success of launched projects and ones currently in progress. I ensure that involve the developers early and often. We have weekly prioritization meetings where we review current work and discuss anything code or design related. I share my sketches, mockups, prototypes and general ideas with the team to gather feedback and understand any code based limitation. This is also important to ensure the design vision is aligned with execution of the development. Moreover, we have a process and set system for naming conventions, margins, grids, file types and sizes. We also think about edge cases often, which has an impact on design and development. Handoff includes all working files, prototypes, specs and a style guide. Throughout the development process, we meet daily to review the coded designs. I make notes on improvement as I review the coded designs, and we often work together on the spot to make fixes to the UI.
I interface with an accessibility team based in the UK multiple times a week. We discuss usability and accessibility concerns, looking at the UI and code. This team primarily consists of accessibility engineers, and I consistently iterate the UI based on their feedback. Our general workflow includes me sending static mockups and interactive prototypes to the accessibility team. Once they've had a chance to review my work, they'll send me "escalation tickets" if there are parts of my design that need iterating. We primarily focus on color accessibility, touch target sizing and positioning, hidden content, text size, how my design adapts when using a screen reader and state changes/visual cues to represent status and state changes.
Back-End Engineering Team
I interface with a back-end engineering team who are located in both Silicon Valley and India. This team focuses on much of the logic and mechanics of what I design. We primarily discuss functionality and localization of content for different languages. This team is very detail oriented, so I provide them with detailed specifications of my UI. This includes participating in several in depth UX and UI meetings, providing the team with 100+ slide Keynote presentations that outline every iteration of every screen and element for the priject(s) I'm working on, interactive prototypes and static high-fidelity mockups.
Project #1: Internal Tools
My first project was redesigning an internal publishing tool to improve usability, functionality and overall design.
Initially, employees were using 3 separate applications to complete the publishing process. From start to finish, employees expressed that it took anywhere from 10 minutes to several days to publish a single course. Employees also expressed a need for improved feedback from the application, ability to perform bulk actions and a UI that felt like "Apple."
I began the redesign process with a heuristic evaluation of the original tool and conducted usability studies and interviews to understand how employees use the publishing application. I completed a full redesign, including UAT testing and close collaboration with the development team and project managers. This included initial sketches and wireframes, low-high fidelity mockups, interactive prototypes and presentations to key stakeholders and executives. I was also closely involved with the development team throughout the build out phase, and worked with accessibility to ensure accessibilities standards were being included in the new UI.
My redesign combined the 3 applications into 1 and reduced the amount of time required to complete the publication process by 90%. A large focus was placed on the ability to perform one action on an unlimited number of courses at the same time, in addition to reducing the preceived wait time while actions are being performed and a full redesign of the UI. The new publishing tool has been live for 6 months and the feedback has been very positive.
Project Duration: 4 months | Status: Currently live and in use (7 months)
Project #2: Online Learning Website
My second project was redesigning an online learning platform where any Apple employee (and select non-Apple employees) can go to take online training on any Apple product.
Any genius at an Apple store must be able to handle unique requests from customers. For example, if a customer would like their iPhone assessed and repaired, a Genius or Technician will need to know exactly what to do and how. These employees take training that my team produces and provides on an online learning platform. While previous versions have provided necessary content for Apple employees, my team has received feedback over the years on major pain points. These included an outdated design, accessibility issues, non-responsive design, stale content, not intuitive, lacking functionality and a general feeling of being unmotivated to learn content because of a poor experience using the learning platform. In addition, since this website is viewed by Apple employees worldwide, localization of content has been overlooked over the years. Maintaining this as a focus throughout the design process was also key in producing a successful redesign.
Similar to the first project, I began the redesign process with a heuristic evaluation of the website and conducted usability studies and interviews to understand how employees have used the site in the past. My questions were focused on design and function and the usability studies were task centric. I completed a full redesign, including UAT testing and close collaboration with the development team and project managers. This included initial sketches and wireframes, low-high fidelity mockups, interactive prototypes and presentations to key stakeholders and executives. The first phase was a style guide design and buildout with the development team. From there, we moved on to page buildout. As pages were being developed, I reviewed each page for design and functional consistency, in addition to ensuring accessibility requirements were being implemented. Alongside this, I worked with my manager on a Business Requirements Document and a 150 slide Keynote presentation. Moreover, I was in contact with an accessibility team multiple times throughout the week. As they provided feedback on my designs from an accessibility perspective, I was constantly iterating them and updating the development team with the latest updates. Our general workflow includes me sending static mockups and interactive prototypes to the accessibility team. Once they've had a chance to review my work, they'll send me "escalation tickets" if there are parts of my design that need iterating. We primarily focus on color accessibility, touch target sizing and positioning, hidden content, text size, how my design adapts when using a screen reader and state changes/visual cues to represent status and state changes. Throughout the design and build phase, I was user testing with Apple employees to gather feedback, which led to quick updates.
The solution includes a redesigned UI, responsive layout for desktop, laptop and tablet, gamification elements for learning and many functionality updates to improve overall user experience. Further, the final site has one of the highest marks for accessibility amongst Apple sites (both in code and design). As users expressed in interviews and usability studies, previous versions of the website focused on providing all content at once without taking users unique needs into account. Right from the homepage, the new design understands each unique user and provides them with personalized content that increases the value and effectiveness of their learning experience.
Project Duration: 7 months | Status: Handed off to back-end development team