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Jessica Karle is a designer and writer living and working in San Francisco. As the Head of Digital Design at Everlane she is responsible for the management and growth of the digital design team at Everlane, where they believe that all good design starts with understanding their users.

Previously, as a Lead Product Designer at Paperless Post, Jessica led the redesign and successful launch of their invitation product and created a new mobile-first experience for an audience of 65 million receivers a year. Her team focused heavily on user research to innovate rather than iterate on a six-year old product.

She is the co-founder and author of Kern and Burn: Conversations with Design Entrepreneurs. Kern and Burn is an online publication and kickstarted book that features candid conversations with 30 leading design entrepreneurs. Now in its second printing, the book inspires designers to find their own paths and is required reading in several design curricula.

Ask her about building communities, designing for both your users and the business, growth from a design perspective, or anything else!

You can follow Jessica on Twitter @jesskarle, where she shares her thoughts about design, and on Instagram @jessicakarle, where she posts all things art, plants, and interiors. 

Jessica studied Interior Architecture and Furniture Design at Miami University of Ohio and received her MFA in Graphic Design from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

She will be live on June 6th starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which she will answer as many questions as possible.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    4 months ago #

    Bonjour Jessica,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.
    Here are a few questions for you:

    1) If good design starts with understanding the users, what's next?
    2) Which design trends are you seeing in mobile?
    3) Have you started venturing into conversational UI design?

    Merci!

    • JK

      Jessica Karle

      4 months ago #

      Hello Arsene! Thanks for a great set of questions to kick-off the AMA.

      1) If good design starts with understanding the users, what's next?

      Understanding the business. It’s really important for designers to advocate for users’ needs and create a great experience to meet those needs, but they also need to understand and communicate how the experiences they design meet and drive business goals.

      When I coach designers on how to present design work, whether it’s a small feature tweak or a full-on redesign of an experience, I tell them not to lead with the design itself because at the end of the day it’s not necessarily what it looks like that matters (or even the nuances of how it works) but the *why* behind the work that’s important. Centering the conversation on the context of the business and our goals helps everyone stay focused on the big picture when reviewing work. Also, when you can keep the users and the business top of mind during the design process it helps you arrive at better solutions, faster.

      3 Share
    • JK

      Jessica Karle

      4 months ago #

      2. Which design trends are you seeing in mobile?

      Well this is less of a design trend, but it’s where my head’s at right now with mobile: browsing and shopping trends on mobile vs. desktop. As an online e-comm business we’re very focused on understanding our users’ behavior across platforms so that we can best create personalized and platform-specific experiences. We are thinking about experiences that tighten mobile discovery and browsing and create that bridge to desktop—which is the platform domestic customers tend to convert on. So we’re exploring new ways to browse our e-comm feed, easy ways to engage (favoriting, comparing), saving for later on mobile to complete a purchase on desktop, etc.

      Another trend, or technological advancement, that I’m personally interested in is visual recognition that leads to product discovery. Companies like Google and Pinterest have made really interesting innovations around identifying objects in photos and pointing you directly to where you can learn more and eventually shop. Connecting the shoppable moment directly to the moment of discovery is really exciting—but users still have to be in the right mindset and potentially the right platform the convert. Outside of visual recognition you also see this in ad → transactions on mobile (inspiration → conversion).

      Mary Meeker writes about many mobile trends in her 2017 Internet Trends Report, which is worth a read. http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

      3 Share
      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        4 months ago #

        Thanks for sharing, Jessica.

        Big fan of visual recognition. About 5 years ago I did an app that allowed women to shop purses off of each other when they meet in real life via image recognition. Too early at the time, interesting to see that trend now. It should only accelerate and accelerate new opportunities for growth.

        Merci!

    • JK

      Jessica Karle

      4 months ago #

      3. Have you started venturing into conversational UI design?

      Not really, but it’s on our radar. There are many areas where we could explore conversational interfaces, such as in an onboarding experience helping users choose what to browse for, assisting with style and fit questions, as well as within services like returns and exchanges. I'd love to be able to put some time into exploring conversational interactions in the future.

      • AL

        Arsene Lavaux

        4 months ago #

        Happy to take this offline, Jessica. I am also actively exploring that space looking to acquire new learning every day. Will share some hands-on experience with some early experiences I created if relevant. Looking forward to the day when speed to value will be much higher with value being delivered to the user not the user having to hook a platform before accessing it.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    4 months ago #

    Hey Jessica - so cool to finally have you on!

    What is the most appealing thing about Everlane to you? What gets you up in the morning about your role and why?

    • JK

      Jessica Karle

      4 months ago #

      Hi Anuj! Thank you for having me.

      I love working across mediums. At Everlane, I get to think about our customer journey online and offline. I partner with our amazing in-house Creative team to take our product stories from wild posters in NYC, to emails in your inbox and engaging landing pages, through to the part where I spend most of my time—helping users understand the shopping funnel and giving them a great shopping experience. We also bring our brand presence and product offline to in-store shopping moments. Whether those moments happen in our SF Lab or SoHo Studio, or concept shops like Cashmere Cabin or Shoe Park, I love that we’re able to really foster the connection with our community in many ways.

      Everlane has done an amazing job building a community so I’m grateful to get to design for such an awesome group of humans that already love our product and bring our product to people who haven’t yet discovered us.

      Also, I love the people I work with. They’re some of the most dedicated, smart, humble, and fun humans I’ve ever worked with. I’m super excited to come to work every day and build the product but also the company with them. We’re a fast-paced work environment so there’s always an adventure and team that’s willing to hit the ground running. It keeps me on my toes in a great way.

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    4 months ago #

    Hey Jessica

    What tools would you recommend for someone or a small team that doesn't have a person dedicated to creative/UX/UI/Design to allow them to learn, iterate, execute at some level vs flailing about?

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    4 months ago #

    Hi Jessica - thank you for being here!

    a. Leading from John's question on tool, what tools are you using for user research?
    b. What is your biggest challenge with conducting user research at Everlane?

  • TD

    Tim Dearlove

    4 months ago #

    Thanks for answering questions Jessica!

    Can you describe how Everlane created their checkout process? When it comes to creating a pleasant checkout experience Everlane always struck me as having the best experience. Some aspects of it just make sense, like spitting the process into a few different screens rather than asking the visitor to enter everything in on a single page. How often are you tweaking that feature of the site?

    • JK

      Jessica Karle

      4 months ago #

      Hi Tim,

      The checkout process was created before my time at Everlane (so credit goes to the team!) but I can share some thoughts on why a split-process works. There has been a bit of research done showing that multi-step forms out-perform single-step forms (a few links below). Seeing a single form on page load is less intimating, and feels easy to complete right away. The key with a longer or more complicated flow like checkout is to also tell users upfront how many steps there are in the total process (so their expectations are set) and then give them a progress bar so they can experience a sense of completion along the way leading to the final success state.

      I think Typeform does a really nice job of staging questions in the design of their surveys. They focus the users’ area on the single question, dim out the questions before and below, and make it really easy to complete and move back and forward in the flow. Their UI and interaction states add to this ease, with highlighted focus states, large type, enter to submit, and automatic cursor progression. They also have great success states, with large check marks which play into a users’ emotions and make them feel good about completing each step.

      For Everlane, we could make a few updates to our checkout process on both desktop and mobile by adding in some of a sense of progress and completion, specifically on mobile where the process is not as linear as it for first-time desktop users. Our desktop flow (and forms) could definitely use some love as the whole flow has not been updated in a while, but we actually made some usability tweaks this past week! We're also looking into other forms of quick payment (Amazon Pay, Apple Pay etc.).

      https://www.ventureharbour.com/form-design-best-practices/
      https://uxplanet.org/designing-more-efficient-forms-structure-inputs-labels-and-actions-e3a47007114f
      Typeform example - https://www.typeform.com/examples/#registration

      4 Share
  • GH

    Glen Harper

    4 months ago #

    Thank you for being here, Jessica

    a. What is the biggest UX challenge you've recently had to work on and what did you do/learn during that process?
    b. How do you balance having great user experience while solving for business goals, and have those two ever clashed?

    • JK

      Jessica Karle

      4 months ago #

      Hi Glen! Happy to be here.

      a. What is the biggest UX challenge you've recently had to work on and what did you do/learn during that process?

      One of the most challenging and rewarding user experiences I worked on recently was reimagining Paperless Post’s invitation product and creating a new mobile-first experience for an audience of 65 million receivers a year. We focused heavily on user research to innovate rather than iterate on a six-year old product. Here’s a medium post I wrote about what we learned and the process we took to get there:

      https://medium.com/design-paperless-post/you-re-invited-93c86d417ee5

      • JK

        Jessica Karle

        4 months ago #

        b. How do you balance having great user experience while solving for business goals, and have those two ever clashed?

        I’ll tell a classic growth story. The company says, “We need more sign up to grow the business.” The team eventually aligns on a solution that involves some type of page gate that blocks content and requires a user sign up to see the content they’re trying to see. Designers hate this. They say this is a terrible user experience, why would anyone ever sign up? This is terrible, it goes against all my principles, etc.

        Yes, for the most part these page gates are gross. But if you can take the time to test the edges of the experience and design an experience that provides value to people and the company then everyone wins. Our sign up experience speaks to the value that a user will receive if they choose to join our community. If they sign up they get early access to products and if they’re not interested, they’re still able to opt-out and close the modal. By integrating a sign-up opportunity on-page within the product experience we were able to increase sign-ups (our business goal) and provide value to our users at the same time.

  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    4 months ago #

    What companies do you admire from a design/ux perspective?
    What specifically are they doing that makes them stand out to you?

  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    4 months ago #

    Hey Jessica

    A few questions on your user research process:

    a. How often do you do User Research at Everlane?
    b. How do you ensure that this research is being conducted in a timely manner? What are the triggers for this?
    c. How do the results of this research get brought into the product?

    • JK

      Jessica Karle

      4 months ago #

      Hi Tri,

      I spoke to your questions a little bit in Dani’s question above ^

      a. How often do you do User Research at Everlane?

      As often as possible, but it’s really hard with a lean team (without dedicated researchers at the moment) to get a few weeks ahead of the work. We try to prioritize research for the bigger opportunities and site experiences we’re designing and developing.

      • JK

        Jessica Karle

        4 months ago #

        b. How do you ensure that this research is being conducted in a timely manner? What are the triggers for this?

        We try to plan research workback schedules 2-3 weeks ahead of when we want to be designing and building prototypes (then we try to run a round of usability testing) before building and shipping products. So really, that looks like a 4-8 week timeline ahead of launch dates which can seem super tough to fit in with everything else that is going on. The triggers for deciding when we do research are rooted in our biggest opportunities for the company, net new product launches, or a feature that touches a lot of customers and we want to make sure we get it right.

        Ideally, we’d build research into the design and development process for almost everything we build. Goals.

    • JK

      Jessica Karle

      4 months ago #

      c. How do the results of this research get brought into the product?

      We’re a nimble team doing all of the research ourselves, so we end up making the call about what to integrate. After we run a user testing session we regroup and align on the most important insights to integrate into the next version, build it, test again, learn, etc. But we still need to share the research more broadly.

      Communicating your findings and recommendations is one of the hardest but most important parts of the research process. Sharing your insights in a meaningful way to the team and stakeholders validates the importance of research and gives your stakeholders something to hold onto when you talk about the need to redesign something or make a big product change.

      I went to a design talk recently where Coe Leta Stafford, the Senior Design Director at IDEO U said, “Data helps you know, stories help you feel.” I loved that. How can you help your company feel the things your customers feel?

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    4 months ago #

    Hi Jessica,

    What (qualitative and/or quantitative) data do you look at that tells you you might have a UX issue?

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    4 months ago #

    Hey Jessica!
    What are the most valuable aspects of psychology that you apply to your work when crafting UX with a growth mindset?
    Thanks!

  • MR

    Monu Rohila

    4 months ago #

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    What design trends are you seeing in web & mobile that you think are particularly exciting?
    How do you stay on top of emerging trends? What resources do you refer to?

  • JD

    James Dunn

    4 months ago #

    Hi,
    What did you learn from your time at Paperless Post that you've now been able to apply at Everlane?

  • SK

    S Kodial

    4 months ago #

    What is the right stage to start considering "UX" for a startup?
    It's also likely that an MVP is delivering on the core proposition and still be quite "embarrassing" from a UX/usability point of view.
    So is there a signal, qualitative or quantitative, that says you should specifically start paying attention to UX more from there on out?
    Is this also the point to consider getting a dedicated UX person on board or can that wait till later (and if later, what's the signal to hire that person)?

  • AO

    Amanda Olson

    4 months ago #

    Hi Jessica! What would you say is one of the biggest discoveries you've made through user research? Whether it be a pattern that's surfaced over multiple projects, or something unique to one individual project.

  • JK

    Jessica Karle

    4 months ago #

    Hi friends! I'm out of time for this AMA today but I'll come back tomorrow and throughout this week to answer the remaining questions. Thanks for sending these questions my way, I really enjoyed this and you can feel free to reach out on Twitter as well. Thanks!

    https://twitter.com/jesskarle

  • FK

    Farasat Khan

    4 months ago #

    Hey Jessica how are you doing?
    I am looking forward to know how does a brand identifies its niche when entering the market. And secondly when a market is not much tech savvy what is the way about to reach the market in the most cheap manner. (Any idea on campaigns for e.g for a T shirt brand)?

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