Being a good design leader — Meet Amber & Nelly
What does it mean to be a good leader?
Many ponder about the role of a leader in the course of developing their career. This is because the team’s growth and the team members’ experience can vary depending on the leader.
In Coupang’s Design org, there are leaders who think of ways for designers to enjoy work and grow at the same time and strive to provide them with experiences and opportunities they can feel proud of.
We met with Amber, who designs the overall purchase experience in Coupang app, and Nelly, who leads E-commerce UX in Korea and globally, to learn more about Coupang’s Design team.
Thank you Amber and Nelly for your time for the interview. Please introduce yourself.
Amber: Hi, my name is Amber, I’m leading the team which resolves problems that customers experience and designs the overall purchase experience of the Coupang app one item at a time. Instead of limiting ourselves to a certain category or a specific target customer group, our main work is to identify and address all customer problems occurring in flows based on the conversion data of major domains, from home to payment.
Nelly: Hello, I’m Nelly leading the team which is responsible for the UX of the 15-minute grocery store delivery service called ‘Quick Commerce’ in Korea & Japan, and Coupang’s UX including e-commerce Rocket Delivery launched in Taiwan. Our team is responsible for improving and expanding the entire ecosystem, from service apps where customers make direct purchases to delivery and operation centers.
You two have made great successes, then could you introduce one of the projects you have worked on?
Nelly: What we have worked on is the launch of the e-commerce Rocket Delivery service, one of Coupang’s major services, in Taiwan. To successfully launch Coupang’s service for Taiwanese customers, so that they can use it well, we have conducted several hundred rounds of user research, benchmark, UT (User Testing) etc. Furthermore, to replicate Coupang Korea’s features in Taiwan, we worked on globalizing as well as localizing the service by starting from inspecting the detailed specs.
Amber: The project for bundling deliveries, which was the first attempt in Coupang, is most memorable to me. Fast shipping, offered by services like Rocket Wow and Rocket delivery, is one of the many strengths of Coupang. We worked on design to improve customer’s experience with giving them the opportunity to decide if they want to bundle multiple orders in order to receive the products all at once, instead of having them individually shipped.
We conducted surveys, interviews and live UTs with numerous customers and were able to identify that some customers wanted to receive all ordered items at once. Also, we learned how users perceived and understood the benefits of receiving all items at once.
Designing the UX was challenging as the design had to allow customers to easily select the option to bundle deliveries and deselect the option if they needed something urgently. We worked on multiple design types and content variations, and after multiple rounds of UTs and A/B tests, we were able to cover various bundling scenarios.
We are continuing to improve this option to bundle delivery schedules for better UX.
Since you have successfully launched important projects, please tell me any characteristics unique to Coupang that lead its projects to success?
Amber: We always research various domains of countless services, and design based on our finding data to improve customer experience in the process of purchasing items. We are freely pitching ideas for solutions to customer problems discovered through the above processes, no matter what they are.
It is important to ponder upon which solution, out of these many ideas, can be the best way that can maximize customer experience in every stage of the project.
From the planning stage until the design and development is completed, not only the product manager but also all the designers, content strategists and engineers freely pitch their ideas. Also, regardless of the junior/senior/leader level, everyone exchanges constructive feedback and develops the solution.
Solutions that go through such a process get validated by customers through A/B testing and get launched from a rational decision making process backed by data.
I believe all of these steps drive the success of the project.
Nelly: The biggest driving force behind Coupang becoming able to set the global expansion goal is that everyone at Coupang puts customers before anything. I believe the stage of conducting various research and validating hypotheses to find out what the user really wants is Coupang’s key process. As Amber mentioned, there are various tests, including A/B testing, user testing, QA(Quality Assurance) and localized contents testing. Launching our business overseas seemed to be free of major issues thanks to these tests.
What is unique to Coupang’s working style compared to others?
Nelly: I think the best part about Coupang would be the rational and proactive working style. Instead of spending more time on reporting to and receiving approval from higher-level organization heads and leadership, at Coupang I am spending more time on discussing the common goals with all the stakeholders I work with and on the process of creating the product by developing small and big features to achieve the goal. I think this allows us to individually define why we do our work and to have a more proactive attitude towards our work. Such an attitude also allows us to express our thoughts more too.
Amber: The designers of Coupang’s Product UX are not GUI designers, but product designers, so they should know how to interpret data and create designs while keeping data impact in mind. Our team has to resolve customer problems throughout the purchase funnel, so we are designing while considering what the success metrics are, as well as how to achieve the metrics. I think this process will allow us to improve our understanding in business and enable designers to feel that they are able to contribute to the growth of the company.
In addition, the culture of freely debating and giving feedback to each other was what surprised me the most after I joined Coupang. Our team holds an ‘Office Hour’ every day. Coupang’s product designers really enjoy the time they receive feedback on their own designs. Constructive and realistic feedback is given on their colleagues’ designs and that is helping us grow. Sometimes there is a difference in opinions, but it was really surprising because it wasn’t the decision making leader’s opinion that mattered in such cases. Instead, I was able to see them voluntarily reach an agreement through debate and reflect it into the solution.
What is the goal you really want to achieve at Coupang?
Nelly: I am particularly interested in the payment and commerce industry, so I have been working in finance and commerce. With the experience and know-hows I have accumulated so far, I would like to develop products in a way unique to Coupang. Global expansion seems to be a good example and I would like to develop Coupang Korea even more. Coupang is a product that has so significant growth potential. To give an analogy, it feels like a freshman that just entered university. We have achieved so much already, but there are still many opportunities and business growth ahead. I would like to make Coupang even better so that it can have a leading and unrivaled market growth not only in Korea but also in the global market. That is why I like to pitch not just UX ideas but also strategic ideas from the product perspective.
Amber: I would like to make a team where designers can enjoy their work and grow. Instead of simply giving guidelines and feedback so that the designers can carry out their given projects well, I would like to help them grow into talented designers that can do logical reasoning and debate, as well as proactively participate in the decision-making process.
I have 1:1s with team members on a bi-weekly basis. During the 1:1s, we set simple goals that can be accomplished within 2 weeks. Then later, we talk about how it went, whether there were any difficulties, and so on. Likewise, I am offering designers opportunities to experience establishing their own goals and growing into a design leader in the process of achieving them.
As a manager, I try to play the role of leading and giving opportunities to team members so that they can broaden their impact as their seniority and capacity grows. Through this, I want Coupang’s designers to be recognized for their capabilities and leadership skills within the industry.
Lastly, do you have a word for those who are interested in joining Coupang’s design team?
Amber: Coupang is a place where designers can enjoy working, where they can continuously learn through data and find the most optimal solution with the best colleagues.
I hope to see a lot of interest and please feel free to ask me any questions at any time through the recruiting team.
Nelly: These days I frequently discuss with other managers, ‘How can we help our designers grow even more?’ The goal of the design team is to create opportunities so that Coupang’s designers can grow more and feel more pride working for Coupang than any other company. To create such opportunities and work closely with engineering teams, we are establishing a lot of fundamental work from the communication standpoint as well. It would be great to work side by side with anyone who wants to gain experience at a company that has many growth opportunities & new experiences, and help one another to resolve any project issues that arise.
At Coupang, you will find good leaders, a variety of products, data-based culture and leadership, and awesome colleagues. Coupang is actively hiring designers. Apply now.