Notifications Platform

Leadership, UX, Strategy

Accountable for the UX effort across our notifications platform which includes e-mail, desktop notifications, push notifications and SMS. The platform handles the delivery of hundreds of millions of notifications monthly.

Notifications and their impact on the experience

Notifications played a pivotal role in enabling seamless communication across the product suite. Internally, our teams relied on our platform to be scalable and efficient to leverage within their respective products. Externally, our notifications systems send a huge volume of notifications across products every month which enable tasks and delivery of important information our users need daily.

My role

As the UX Manager, my role involved overseeing design execution across Notifications Platform projects across all channels (SMS, Email, Push, Desktop). This case study highlights how I steered the team towards positive and impactful results as we worked through multiple concurrent projects.

My role was to understand the product roadmap, prioritize project, provide continual guidance to designers, ensure the integration of research where feasible, and collaborate cross-functionally with product and engineering teams to align our efforts with business needs. Some of the key initiatives I oversaw was redesigning our notifications center and modernizing our e-mail templates.

Going beyond our roadmap commitments, I aimed to drive our team towards a more comprehensive, long-term vision for the platform. My objective was to refine our understanding of platform goals, and build confidence for future design work. I had an amazingly supportive design team that made moving the project forward a breeze. My goal as a leader is always to find a balance between empowerment and direction, giving feedback where necessary, but leaning on the talent on the team to do their best work.

UX Team

Caleb McGuire

UX Manager

Lead Designer (Phase 1)

Product Design / Research

Lead Designer (Phase 2)

Product Design / Visual Design

Continuous improvement of e-mail notifications

Focused on enhancing user experience, our talented designers refined our e-mail notification system by researching industry standards and gathering user insights. This approach, rooted in best practices and user preferences, guided our design decisions, ensuring a seamless and user-centric notifications experience across the platform.

Leading the creation of design briefs

Design briefs were a relatively new tool we implemented as a UX organization, and my team was the first to adopt them. I led the creation of multiple briefs during the course of our project. Here are some examples from our e-mail notifications brief:

How I engaged with my team during the design process

I collaborated with our lead designer to begin documenting questions, use cases etc. During that process, I work as a leader to set up check ins and provide feedback on areas we could improve the brief and bring more clarity. Once we have a good first draft of what we want to accomplish within design, we can bring in our product managers in to collaborate and provide additional clarity and feedback. Ideally, our product partners will understand and drive the areas around business. Once we’re aligned on timeline and activities, we’re able to move into design.

Examples of feedback and direction

E-mail best practices

We decided it would be valuable to research best practices across the industry within e-mail delivery to give us a strong foundation and insights into how to tackle the problem for our platform. Quickly we realized that given all the work going on, the research might be a little more involved, so I had two additional designers on my team support our lead designer with specific areas of the best practices research. Below is a zoomed out view of the research the team did which informed how we should tackle our e-mail templates throughout the project.

Collaboration and pushing our understanding

Something I like to do is set up figjams, or whiteboards that are central places for our team to collaborate and just get ideas out. We knew we needed to continue to define how we approach the notifications platform, so I set up a board with some initial questions and things we needed to work through as a team.

Quantitative and qualitative research

The team conducted multiple surveys with our clients around general notifications preferences. Our goals were to try and understand pain points and look for opportunities where we could improve our overall notifications experience. Once we had conducted the surveys, we reached out to users that said they would be willing to have in person discussions to provide more feedback. I had our lead designer create a summary presentation of all our findings that we could share and reference across our projects.

Design ideation

We had done an initial MVP approach for e-mail templates early in the year (on the right). The first phase was centered around the research and aligning our main template to the current design system standard which was constantly evolving and setting the foundation for future iteration. The second phase was really about pushing where we could go. I gave my lead designer the direction to branch out and push the visual direction based on what we had seen in the competitive landscape while also considering feedback we had received from our stakeholders.

MVP Design

New explorations

Overall, the new directions not only brought a lot of life into the e-mails, but they also took into consideration the best practices and ongoing changes that were going on in our design language.

Presenting to stakeholders

Our project was high visibility, so once we had a start on our explorations, I wanted us to get in front of our key stakeholders very early. The conversations were fruitful, but one challenge we hit was that our stakeholders were interested in the broader platform thinking for Notifications in addition to the designs we had been working through. The main takeaways was that the direction was good, and we needed to regroup to dive deeper into the platform questions our stakeholders raised. One of our senior designers, Michael Szczepanski, made a awesome figma template that I used for the presentation. Here are some screens I put together to get alignment on direction.

Additional notifications projects

As I said earlier, e-mail wasn’t the only project I had to manage. Additional projects like re-designing our notifications center and preferences configuration were also critical projects for our team.


  1. We did a lot of upfront research in the project, but I think we could have done a better job as a group looking critically at the measurements for success in the project. The team was great at getting quantitative data, but we needed to make sure that we were continually using it to make informed decisions and adjust our design approaches.
  2. Bring in product and engineering even earlier and collaborate even more. The times where we were able to bring product and engineering early into brainstorming discussions were the most successful.
  3. Our design team grew immensely in both our design execution, but also in working to drive with research. We continually leveraged user insights, and had ongoing conversations with them which really helped us feel aligned on our objectives.
  4. UX Briefs were successful in the project, but their value goes down if you leave them as a point of time artifact. I would liked for us to find ways to continue to update our documentation in a meaningful way which is not always easy in faster moving projects.
Caleb McGuire

I'm a father, husband and musician living just a little east of the Twin Cities. I've been designing awesome experiences professionally for over 15 years.

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