My name is Ian Sagabaen,
a product designer for
Bay Area tech companies.

(My first name rhymes with lion.)

Most of my work is in the corporate space, primarily creating internal tools for mid-size to large Internet companies. Notable work created at Facebook, now currently at Google in Sunnyvale.
Oh, & for fun, I supplement my passion for design by  mixing it up with my baseball fandom. Learn more about the Greatest Sign Maker of the MLB »

Tools of the trade

Building: Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Balsamiq

Prototyping: InVision, HTML/CSS, Framer, paper prototyping, Google/Facebook internal tools

Project management: Google Sheets, JIRA, Trello, other internal tools

Communication: Google Hangouts, Gmail, Facebook Messenger, Facebook groups, Google internal tools

The process

Projects are different, issues faced are similar. I have a project management process that:
1. Helps me be efficient with my time
2. Provides buy-in from all invested parties
3. Assures that the end user will use what I’ve designed…and be delighted with the experience!
Immersion. To understand what needs to be solved, I immerse myself with the team and those using the product. I can undersand the problem space & the ecosystem so I can match mental models with our end users. I talk to the end users to see off-the-bat their pain points.
Requirements gathering. Being the new guy on the team gives me the license to ask the naive, oh-so-basic questions to understand all the restrictions, needs, & assumptions.
Stakeholder buy-in. I shop around my requirements document with the stakeholders — business partners, project managers, engineering — to check if I’m off base. Doing this helps me gain buy-in because all parties feel invested in the design process.
Ideas to paper. Or whiteboards. I sketch. I transform thoughts into crude drawings, then check with my stakeholders to see if we all align.
Medium fidelity. With everyone on board, I can flesh out the design more robustly. If I have researcher resources, I’ll design enough to create a click-prototype to validate our ideas with real users.
Building from research findings. If in the perfect world the tested concept works well with our real-world users, I’ll share the results with the stakeholder team & begin collaborating with engineering to make my design dreams come true by implemention of my designs.
Ship! Then monitor the numbers to make sure that the product is performing well.

The checklist

I've developed a system to reduce the amount of cycles & helps me release a product that makes both the stakeholders & end users happy.

Design workshops. Or as Google calls them, design sprints. Early on in the design process, I gather engineering, product managers, business, & design & we collectively come up with a design solution. This helps me gain buy-in from all teams. The business side will make sure their needs are met. Engineers are happy because they're exposed to the nuances of the design so they can anticipate any issues in implementation.

Humanize the design. No matter the target audience — internal users, general consumers — all of them are humans using the product. When conceptualizing an idea, I draft a user story but written in script format, pretending that the end user is communicating with a human version of the app. In creating the dialog, it helps me find gaps in the experience & it helps me draft the microcopy needed for the UI.

Streamlined review sessions. When gathering the party to review designs, the conversation can become derailed with many subjective opinions. In these design sessions, I have two rules:
1. Provide feedback only if it answers the needs of the previously-created & vetted personas.
2. Write your feedback on Post-Its & post them on the printed designs posted on the wall.

Thorough documentation. This one appeals to my engineers as it provides clarity to what exactly needs to be built. In the past, they love seeing detailed specifications, wireframe redlines, & even a UI kit that compiles all the UI elements needed for the design. Daily check-ins are needed for progress checks.

Accessibility. Google has stringent accessibility guidelines, so I’ve become sensitive to creating accessible solutions for inclusivity. There are contrast ratings for text to be considered, as well as providing specs to engineers for screen reader needs.

Clean-up sessions. After a product has been released, I make sure to monitor its health via analytics & follow-up user testing sessions. This is an opportunity to comb through the whole product suite & make sure there's cohesion with all UI elements.

Case studies

Adding a desktop app feature in SugarSync. An existing desktop app wanted to add a new product feature, so after listening to user feedback, I conducted a design workshop & came up with a solution that appealed to the team & the end users.

Design exercise: Wait staff reviews. I illustrate the process coming up with a product solution from scratch with a very broad design prompt. I describe my concepting process on the whiteboard, the importance of personas, & the tools needed to draft up a solution.

Locale Maps. I designed & actively maintain a Google Maps mashup site that maps more than a thousand different chapels worldwide.

Visual design samples. My bread-&-butter early on in my career was in visual design; I still apply my user experience processes in visual design tasks.
View all case studies
Because of some legal mumbo-jumbo, I can’t share details about my work at Facebook & Google, though if you're read this far, you've gotten a sample of how I generally conduct business. Now imagine that process supporting at a larger scale for thousands of Facebookers & Googlers!

Thanks for reading!

Let's work together. Contact me anytime.