Shuang Liu

Dell Internship

Team Size
UX Design Intern
May - Aug 2017
60~ (3 UX designers)
To protect confidential information, I removed and edited information in this case study.

My Internship

Enter password to view the full project

My Role

During my internship, I was in a close-knit UX team with 3 UX designers (including myself) and 1 UX researcher. I also worked closely with the engineers, the product owners and the product manager on defining project scope, reviewing designs, and checking technical feasibility. I was trained to be a T-shaped designer. My job responsbilities ranged from user research, brainstorming, wireframing, creating high-fidelity mocks, to conducting usability studies.


The product CloudIQ I worked on is a newly released SaaS analytics tool for midrange storage systems. CloudIQ makes it simple and fast for IT generalists to gain access to storage system information and to make informed decisions about performance, capacity, data protection, and configurations.

My Projects

My Work Overview

1. End-to-end Feature Design

Out of my 15-week long internship, I spent 4 weeks collaborating with an engineer to design and implement the "What's New" feature end-to-end. Since CloudIQ is a new product released in early 2017, we are continously developing new features and we want our customers to be aware of the value of the new features.

Process Overview

For this project, the engineer and I conducted expert interviews and mapped out personas and use cases. We defined the Minimum Viable Product and designed the back-end schema. I created wireframes, high-fidelity mocks and built prototypes using WebFlow and InVision. We presented our final work to the stakeholders and the MVP was scheduled to be pushed to production in the following release.

2. Button Component Inventory

Rapid development accumulates design debt. For example, in my button style study, I found 9 different styles for icons. I developed a button style guide, with descriptive usage guidelines and examples and coded an interactive prototype.

3. Interaction Design

There are some features of CloudIQ that had been implemented by engineers without the help of a UX designer. I improved the task flow, designed for edge cases, designed the zero data scenario and enhanced the mobile view interaction for the metrics feature.


My Process

User Research

I worked closely with our UX researchers, some of whom have worked in the company for over 10 years and have extensive knowledge about our users, use cases and history of our products. I made use of persona data developed by the Midrange UX team. The team consists of UX designers and researchers from all Midrange projects over the years, including CloudIQ. I interviewed our UX researchers, read through research reports from previous studies and attended user interview sessions.

For my "What's New" feature design project, I conducted 7 expert interviews to understand the vision of CloudIQ, our users and technical stack. I invited the engineer who I collaborated with to get involved in the research phase.

Iterative Design

Our team follows the lean UX methodology. For each feature we design, we first define the MVP, test the feature and iterate based on user feedback. For the What's New feature design, I created over 50 wireframes and went through 4 rounds of iteration.

Start with lots of sketches

I always started my projects with sketches. I used freehand sketching to experiment with ideas. I almost used up an entire sketchbook during my internship.

Sample sketches

Design for the empty state

When there is no data on the page, give users guidance on what to do.

Empty state of the Metrics feature

Design for all conditions

Feature design is not just for creating a series of mockups for the main flows. The designer needs to take all conditions (including edge cases) into consideration.

Sample condition mapping

Design for scalability

I worked closely with engineers to understand the technical constraints. Even though the MVP is always the first step, I communicate my design vision with engineers to make sure that the back-end implementation will be able to handle the full-fledged design.

Usability Evaluation

During my internship, I worked with our UX researcher to create protocols, write scripts and define tasks to test my "What's New" feature. We conducted 2 internal dry-runs and 6 usability study sessions with external participants. I faciliated 5 sessions, combed through the notes and summarized the final report to present to our team.

I conducted 6 usability tests for my feature design

My Learning Experience



Win stakeholders buy-in

Working on an engineering driven team means designers have to win buy-in from product owners and engineers. It's important for designers to communicate in a clear manner without referencing any design jargon. For each design project, I created a slide deck laying out design options and detailing the reasoning behind the design.

Use annotation to explain design reasoning

Overcome the domain knowledge gap

CloudIQ and other midrange storage products were designed for IT professionals, such as IT generalists and system administrators. I had no knowledge about the system troubleshooting process, different kinds of servers and systems, and all the IT jargon. There was indeed an learning curve, but I enjoyed nerding out, gaining new IT knowledge and learning about our users. By the end of my internship, I mastered how to talk about system troubleshooting as a IT generalist imposter.

Go Big, Win Big

This internship opened a door for me to experience building business-facing applications at a large corporation. I came in without knowing anything about storage systems and left knowing enough jargon to talk about system performance troubleshooting.