I work alongside my team through the entire process of our projects—reviewing and editing and ultimately signing off on the final deliverables—but I am not the person who wrote most of the words you'll see in our finished products these days. Instead, I am usually found removing obstacles, strategizing how to better position ourselves for the success of the project, reviewing UX with execs and senior management, leading brainstorming sessions on creative copy solutions, helping my team advocate for better user experiences, empowering them to push back when it's needed, coaching them to let go when it's best, mentoring them on career growth, and identifying ways to broaden our impact and add deeper value.
Over the years, that has meant growing our scope to include things like branding strategy, documenting project goals, articulating open issues, developing personas, creating design annotations, and generating nomenclature options. It can also include addressing the results of user studies and working side by side with our colleagues in legal, marketing, business, localization, HI, and the executive team to iterate on the UX until it shines.
Below are a few examples of the kind of projects and challenges I've led my team through over the years. Tap or click on each image to see a larger version.
With the introduction of Apple Music, my team had the opportunity to tackle an entirely new kind of service with a broad feature set that required new types of instructions and explanations. We handled everything from turning a potentially complicated onboarding experience into something that engaged and excited users, to concisely presenting a large number of actions in a very small space with our mobile contextual menus. This project is an example of our mobile-first work, and it was also our first opportunity to adapt one of our products for Android.
We also freshened up our UX voice a bit, making it even more casual and conversational than the traditional iTunes voice. I worked collaboratively with peers and execs to come up with a new style for our UX copy, and then worked with my team to implement it thoughtfully in Apple Music. Specific examples of that include our "first love" dialog and the headers in the onboarding process.
My team's work in this area started out with simple UX copy for iTunes on Apple TV, and has grown to full ownership of all copy for the entire Apple TV UX. This includes the new tvOS and the upcoming TV app on both Apple TV and iOS. This growth was the result of years of close partnerships with engineers, designers, executives, and business managers. Working collaboratively, we were able to build top-notch user experiences and establish trust that ultimately led to ownership of the entire platform's UX copy.
Siri can identify what music is playing around you, and your iOS device keeps a list of songs that you've identified and tagged as something you like. When this feature came out, we needed empty-state copy for that list—and it also needed to inform users about how it all worked, all in very limited space on a mobile platform. This was our first time writing for any kind of Siri interaction, and we took the opportunity to present a fresh, conversational voice for something that could have come across as very technical.
This flow was one of the more complicated ones my team has tackled in the last few years. There were many factors to consider that we had not dealt with before, including a flow that starts on one user's device, picks up on a second user's device, and finishes up on the first user's device. It involved explaining this complex flow in a way that could be understood by children as well as adults, and which was short enough to work across multiple platforms of various sizes. The kinds of copy required for this project included dialogs, banners, and push notifications.
This partnership with Disney allows iTunes and Disney Movies Anywhere customers to access their Disney movies in iTunes so they can find all of their stuff in one place. While that sounds fairly simple in theory, in practice it created the potential for a lot of confusion. My team had to clearly explain the proposition and process from end to end, and we had a very short flow in which to do it. Leading my team on this project required skillful collaboration with teams and stakeholders in a different company, and making sure execs on both teams were pleased with the results.
Mastered for iTunes required a broader set of communication concerns than our standard features. Not only did we have to do our usual job of clearly articulating something new to our users, we also had to explain a complex concept, in detail, to the artists and sound engineers who provide our music. Our primary tool for doing this was a technology brief authored entirely by my team. Leading this task meant making sure my team had access to the right subject matter experts, facilitating and providing structure to ongoing informational sessions with those experts, and keeping the discussion on track so that my team could get what they needed in time for launch.
The first screen below shows what the iTunes gifting screen looked like when it was developed without my team. The rest of the screens show what the UI and flow looked like after my team collaborated with the design team on an update. This project is a good illustration of how carefully my team works to pare down unnecessary copy and drive towards a clean, clear, and simple UX.