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May 2022 - October 2022

My Role: UX Design Intern

Utilizing and implementing UX Research methods to gather data from new-hires, I pinpointed user needs and designed 4 cohesive and on-brand courses centered around enabling new hires to be successful and increase knowledge and satisfaction. These courses are currently being used for a product department of 70+ people.


Can Better Onboarding Create a Better Employee Experience?

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Starting a new job can be scary. It feels like there is so much to learn and so many people to get to know. There are processes that are unfamiliar to you, and workflows you aren’t used to yet. Onboarding is a key part of the experience as it sets the tone for the rest of your time at a company. If done purposefully, it can provide the right context needed to be successful and help you thrive in any position.

Awardco is an Employee Recognition platform that was started in 2012 and has amassed over 2.8 million users since then. They strive to  provide a platform to help employees “Recognize the Good” in each other and feel appreciated and valued in a more personalized way. As a company, they have grown in number of employees by over 500% since 2020. 

I had the unique challenge to address the problems that had come out of scaling the company from 70 employees to over 400 in such a short amount of time.


I sat down with Dillon Winspear, who is the head of product, we talked about the current roadblocks, and wondered what could be done to ease these growing pains for new employees.

What is the issue here?

I decided to start by gathering some more context. I sent out a survey to recent new hires within the product department that had started in the last 6 months, as well as leader who worked with new hires. I asked questions such as:


"What is something you learned about the product department during your first month here?"


"What is something you wish you already knew before starting at Awardco? For example, this could be a skill you wish you knew how to do, the way the teams work, or anything not necessarily related to the Product department". 


Here's what I found out:

50% of recent new hires had never worked in a cross-functional team before. 

Workflows and processes were unfamiliar.

There was a huge learning curve with learning about discovery and delivery and how the department operated.

What did I do about it?

After gathering feedback from new hires and their leaders, I got to work on creating 4 courses within Rise, a online employee training system platform, to address those specific concerns and aim to eliminate those stressors and provide resources and helpful information that could be accessed outside of Rise.

Design Process + Deliverables

Empathy Map

I was able to identify with the thoughts and feelings of being a new hire, because I was one. I mapped out my thoughts and concerns, pain points, and what I was wanting to gain in this process.

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Custom Doodles and Icons

I reached out to marketing in order to utilize existing design assets and create a cohesive and familiar look for the courses. Adding these visuals improved the look and added some fun elements to break up the amount text and information. 

Interactive Elements

Rise offers interactive elements that you can use within courses you create. I had to get creative and figure out ways to keep users engaged while also learning. Here is one example of a way that I utilized that feature:

The Bad and the Ugly....

Of course not everything works out 100% how you had intended. I had hopes of creating at least 6 courses that would go more into depth about things like conducting user research, prototyping, etc. 

A big lesson I learned was that things take time, especially when you are waiting on other people for information. I had sat in on plenty of meetings with stakeholders, engineers, and every single cross-functional team. I was constantly reaching and out to leaders and stakeholders and waiting for information that I needed I could continue building my courses. 

It taught me a lot about patience, and knowing the right context to provide and questions to ask. 

Imapact + Results

To summarize:

  •  I was able to successfully create 4 courses that aided in providing context and information to new hires.

  • I learned how to communicate effectively with stakeholders, engineers, and other departments.

  • I utilized my time management skills and was able to work independently, and collaborate when necessary.

After a few months of the courses being used, I discovered (based on follow-up surveys) that they were successful! Here is what some recent hires had to say:

"I feel like the courses helped me get a lot better grip on the organizational structure of the product department for the first bit that I was there!"

"I thought the onboarding courses were great! Knowing more about how the org functions gave me great context and allowed me to work with other teams in stride. I gained a better understanding of what the different roles on a team are responsible for. This was my first time working on a cross-functional team so it was great to learn more about the discovery and development process as a whole."

"I’d say two things that I learned quickly at Awardco, and definitely in part due to your courses, were the importance of cross-functional teams, and what that means. Second would be the scrum based schedule approach to working, i.e. stand ups and sprints."

I am so grateful for my time at Awardco, I was able to learn from those around me and sharpen my skills as a UX Designer. I am hopeful these courses will continue to help those who are just starting on their journey at Awardco, and enable them to feel empowered and see success. 

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