Collaborative Platform

Product, UX/UI
A collaboration and video conferencing platform for education, weaving through the constraints of placing a creative education platform on a small laptop screen.
Pencil aims to provide digital tools for teaching future mathematicians, scientists, and creatives, bridging the 2020 pandemic gap and promoting their growth.

Our solution consolidates various digital tools for tutors, reducing clutter and time wasted by integrating them into a single app, ensuring seamless teaching experiences.
A team of 2 product designers, 1 product manager, and 1 design intern.
I was the primary designer behind the whiteboard desktop app, responsible for video calling, toolbar tools, and board management.
Collaborated with product managers & developers to strategize scalability and solutions.
Redesigned the platform and introduced mobile compatibility for users in our demographic.
Contributed to the design system and patterns for a growing product.
Whiteboard Desktop App:
UX Design, Prototyping, Visual, Research, Scalability, Design system

Management App: UI Design
10 months

Management App: 
3 months
Our design mission:
How do we improve collaboration across a digital medium, creating engagement and facilitating teaching?
Finding the problem:
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of education technology, but the difficult management of various different apps for tutors and students make it challenging to adapt. To address this, four key areas were identified to create a seamless tool for the target audience:
Board Management
Zoom and other tools provide breakout rooms to perform isolated tasks, but making copies of different documents on other programs cause friction and reduce ease-of-use.
Participant Management
With a combo like Miro and Zoom, the tutor spends a higher cognitive load managing one student in two different programs. This is further exacerbated in large classes.
Application & Plugin Tools
Tutors teach various subjects, and different whiteboards may not accommodate their needs. They must switch to different programs for each context, spending more time away from their main goal.
Video Calling
Miro, Google, and Zoom initially had workarounds for combining video calling and whiteboarding in one app. However, separate accounts for students and tutors complicated tracking.
Obstacles faced throughout my experience:
1. Developing within ambiguity + low-resource areas. Smaller screens, and even mobile had to be considered. Being space-efficient was a must.
2. Pairing all views ranging from engineering to design, and choosing the best path forwards.
In an agile workplace, these constraints stand as a barrier to an ideal design solution. However, constant conversation, experimentation, and progress ultimately allowed us to present our final result...
Application & Plugin Tools
Pencil provides diverse teacher tools through its "Apps" menu, offering scalability and consistency for applications like timers and calculators, with the flexibility to add more in the future.
Board Management
The new boards list offers a customizable, list-based approach to navigate pages and whiteboards, indicating user presence and ensuring familiarity with other systems.
Video Calling
An integrated calling system enhances convenience for scheduling teacher-student meetings anytime. Its visual design contrasts with the whiteboard's interface for easy differentiation.
Participant Management
A high-level set of controls for hosts allow management of participants at any given point. Mute everyone, turn off video, and ensure tutors have control of the entire class session.
Throughout my work in Pencil, I have worked cross-functionally with teams, solving our main design issue with many others. In reflection, I realize my growth as a designer through these three key lessons defined from the experience:
Honing the design’s value and intent:
Facilitating communication between teams, I developed effective strategies to explain design impact. This lesson drove positive progress aligning with the company's vision and benefiting users.
I grew to constantly communicate and put bias aside towards the user's goals.
Exploration of the ambitious environment to draw out unique insights:
Being ambitious and always finding new ways to solve the problem is one of the core aspects of a startup. Staying curious for different approaches means we can differentiate our business value from competitors. Combined with a holistic view into the design system, constantly refining unique results has also generated real value for users.
I grew to constantly question and seek to innovate solutions - generating improvements.
Developing complex platforms and systems:
The challenge lies in transforming a robust platform like Photoshop and Google Drive into a user-friendly tool for teachers. I've mastered simplifying complexity while retaining powerful features, crafting prototypes aligning with Pencil's branding. This balance honed my understanding of user interactions in our platform.I grew to process complexity and thrive in it to improve products.