This is my story about how I designed the MVP for Imperative, a startup in Seattle with aspirations to change the way we work.

My Role

Product designer
& user advocate

As the product designer I was responsible for the experience and design of several web apps and reporting tools between July 2016 and September 2016. I led the design work, producing all major deliverables, and kept the team focused on a user-centric MVP.

The Challenges

Designing for validation

Imperative approached me with one objective — quickly design an MVP using UX best practices  to empower Certified Purpose Leaders (people to trained by Imperative in a 4 day workshop) to coach their colleagues to work more effectively and with a greater sense of purpose.

The MVP needed to emphasise function over pixel perfect designs. I knew that with zero user feedback there would be many iterations and unforeseen design considerations.

Therefore, the goal for MVP was to create a working prototype to gather feedback and easily update in future iterations.

Design for users
that don’t exist (yet)

We knew that users could have diverse needs and expectations. They would come from all types of organizations, have different job functions and could have varying levels of comfort with computers and interfaces. Without any way to create a reliable persona, the design needed to err on the side of uber simple and straightforward until we knew more. 

To guide designs I made several assumptions about the people who were going to be using our apps.

I have another job and don’t have a lot of extra time on my hands

I’ll use the product a few times a month to coach colleagues and teams

I think the product should easily integrate into my existing work life

I won’t have mastery of the content and tools at the end of training

I am passionate about helping others work with a sense of purpose

I can use most websites without getting frustrated or confused

Narrowing Scope

Defining the MVP

I led conversations focused on identifying and prioritizing features and flows centered around helping users achieve their goals.

Product is more than software

I collaborated with Maggie Shelton, Head of Programs, to define the priority objectives for the product, both offline and on.

This process gave us a shared vision for how each of our initiatives would come together and create a consistent holistic experience.

Breaking down use cases

I used Trello to break down use cases into smaller chunks. This gave developers projects they could finish in each sprint without losing sight of how each feature fit into the bigger picture.

Designing the MVP

Balancing thinking and action 

I used visual thinking and sketching to quickly share and generate ideas with the team. With a bias towards action I used timeboxing to help focus brainstorming sessions and move quickly from concepts to high-fidelity designs.

Visual Thinking

Exploring concepts on paper allowed me to quickly generate a ton of design ideas. sketching

Sketching Interfaces

Sketching helped the team form a broader
view of the MVP, ensuring a cohesive design.interface


Wireframes helped ensure the team had
a shared understanding of designs.

Hi-Fidelity Mockups

I used Sketch and InDesign to create detailed
mockups to be handed off to developers.hi-fi-500width

There will always be unknowns

Halfway through the project a pivot in the business model affected a large percentage of the work that had already been completed.

Due to mindfulness up front about the potential for change mid-project, I was able to modify the existing designs and get back on schedule without much delay.


Version 1


Version 2


Version 3

Detailed Designs


Below are a few of the high-fidelity designs that I created.

Straightforward flows

When possible the designs emphasised simple UI elements and thoughtful system feedback to keep people on track.





Minimize learning

Designing for busy people with little extra time to learn a new system, I used existing design conventions and took a liberal approach to labeling and system feedback to ensure high usability from day 1.

Design for impact

To help people feel inspired to work with a greater sense of purpose, I balanced compelling copy with supportive visuals and space that wouldn’t overwhelm.

Designed for simplicity

I opted for clear, readable type and used high contrast and uncluttered, clean and well spaced UI elements.

Designed around use case

Designing to specific use cases helped me visualize the places and situations in which people would be using these products. 

Getting Feedback

The Launch

 In September 2016 the first cohort of CPLs came to Seattle for a 4-day workshop. This was the first time users would interact with the products.

Introducing the Team Report to Cohort 1

From the hundreds of data points gathered from talking with users, we were able to validate assumptions as well as identify additional use cases and issues with the product.