TIAA

The client called this initiative the "Enterprise Customer Experience Program". Which turned out to just be a fancy way of saying, we want to improve all communications we are sending to our customers. Mostly: emails. Not the most exciting of UX challenges, but the project did bring its own form of obstacles and puzzles. And luckily I got the chance to have some fun creating some illustrations, which was a nice bonus. It's tough to describe in short what took about 6 months to accomplish, but in attempt: I was a part of a team that helped re-vamp the client's language and visual style into a more approchable tone and feel. Twice. (More on that below.)


THE PROCESS
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WHAT WE WERE STARTING WITH

This is what we were starting with. Bar low. To say the least. Before we dive in though, I should note that the bucket filled with emails we needed to design for was pretty heavy. For the sake of the story, I'll just be highlighting one of the emails here that ended up setting the stage for the rest of the emails we designed.


WIRES

I must have created a couple dozen wires for the first phase of this project. We wanted to generate as many ideas and possibilities as possible then whittle down from there. The long and exciting task of being inspired, creating quick wires, and thoughtful whittle-work, these are a few of the options we ended up presenting to the client. The focus was content strategy, and what would allow for the greatest flexibility in said content. This exercise set us up easy for the next phase in the process, visual design.


EARLY VISUALS

Breaking the content up into bite-size chunks seem to be a strategy that resonated with the client, so we ran with it! In the designs here, the content focuses on 4 main features of this customer's account, broken up into four sections, each with their own interesting visual. Ok, screenshots of lame UI, not such an interesting visual, you got me. And luckily we were able to convince the client of that as well. More on that in the next section...


FINAL STYLE(S)

This is where the project got really fun (for me). After I worked up some quick illustration concepts, we did some quick gorilla A/B testing which confirmed the illustrations resonated much more than screenshots. With that leverage I was able to convince our design team and client stakeholders that simple illustrations conveying the highlighted tool's function was much more intriguing that a static screenshot. Wouldn't you agree? Compare these screens with the ones before. So much more approachable, no!? The designs you see here are the final designs for this particular email (there were at least a couple dozen more that I designed for, illustrations and all).

But, why 2 styles you ask? The first one here (in shades of blue) was the "interim" style to be sent out while the new brand was still under wraps. Still, we had to be ready for when the new brand launched and had to design for that too. The layout of each email had to translate to both interim style AND new brand. A challenge. But I think we nailed it. The final design also translated very easily to mobile, as you can take a peek at in the featured images at the top of this page.


ANIMATED ILLUSTRATIONS

For the final cherry on top, I thought it might be even more dynamic to add a bit of motion to the illustrations. We were out of time for the project, but to convey the idea and inspire some consideration around it, I took an illustration from the email I've been highlighting here, and put some fun motion to it.