In April, like many others this year, I found myself in a new and unexpected situation. I had been laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic and was suddenly searching for my next opportunity. Eager to land a new job, I started to spend all my time scouring listings, hunting for the right fit.

Enter Tegus, a Chicago-based fintech startup. I stumbled across their listing for a product designer position on LinkedIn and could tell right away it was a company to keep an eye on. From my first interview, I felt challenged. I was impressed not only by the…


A professor’s primary role is to teach, but like most jobs, professors often get stuck doing other repetitive tasks to administer their courses. For professors using Packback, one of these tasks was finalizing and uploading Packback assignment grades to their Learning Management System (LMS) gradebook. The Packback gradebook feature had opportunities for improvement to make the process of calculating and downloading grades much easier.

At the start of the project, the gradebook feature provided users with data that could be used to calculate a grade for a student, but required the use of outside software, such as Excel, to perform…


When I joined Packback in September 2019, the design team consisted of one person, Packback co-founder and CPO, Jessica Tenuta. My addition to the team signaled team growth and expansion. As we discussed my role in the growth of the team, it was decided that I would lay the foundation for a larger design team. This meant I would be scaling existing and founding new design processes for the team. The first of these was to create and implement a design system in Figma.

Why Figma?

I could’ve chosen to build a design system in any design software. I know some designers…


A Case Study: Progressive Leasing and Alpha

Image by Muhammad Ribkhan from Pixabay

Far too often, emails are unnecessary, uninteresting, and unhelpful. Marketing campaigns, newsletters, and spam messages clog user inboxes. How can we make emails a better experience for users?

Redesigning the Email User Experience for Consumers

We recently undertook a project to redesign the user experience of transactional emails at Progressive Leasing. Transactional emails are emails triggered by a user’s action. Some examples include:

· Welcome emails

· Payment receipts

· Application status notifications

Instead of viewing these as opportunities to market to customers, we looked at these emails as an extension of a user’s interaction with our other products and services. …


Designers don’t always get to craft delightful, happy user experiences. There are situations users fall into that can be difficult and uncomfortable. This is something I encountered recently as I redesigned Progressive Leasing’s collection emails. Many individuals and institutions have to send a collection email at some point. While these may not be fun to create or receive, a well designed email with a balance of the end user and business needs in mind can ease stress on both ends.

The opportunity

For a user, receiving a collection email is going to be a negative experience. However, receiving repeated phone calls to…


In June, Progressive Leasing held its first-ever company wide hack-a-thon event. Employees were encouraged to form teams that would produce something in 24 hours. My team consisted of a product manager, a product researcher, a software engineer, and a user experience designer (me).


How do you let users know about new features and updates to products? Tell them about it!

When the Customer Tools team updated MyAccount (the customer facing app at Progressive Leasing) we decided to do just that. We started by introducing users to the new features within the app, which you can read more about in my previous article. While pursuing that project, we realized an email campaign would be another opportunity to inform customers about product updates.

Select an audience

We met with marketing and user research analysts to determine an appropriate audience. A user’s email inbox is their personal space, so…


How does a business drive customers to return? This is a question all companies must ask themselves at some point. When I started my internship at Progressive Leasing, the Customer Tools team was concerned with this exact question.

A little background

Before I jump in, let me give you a little background to Progressive Leasing and the opportunity we were solving for. Progressive Leasing, LLC, provides credit-challenged consumers with affordable lease-to-own purchase options. In other words, we provide customers with less-than-perfect credit the opportunity to take home the items they wouldn’t otherwise be able to purchase.

The Customer Tools team within Progressive is…


The Problem

Roommates get a bad rap. Yet, with rising housing costs, climbing student loan rates, and marrying ages trending older, many young adults have turned to living with roommates. In fact, according to Zillow’s assessment of the most recent census, fifty-four percent of 23 to 29-year-olds live in a doubled-up household.

It’s clear the benefits of having roommates outweigh the frustrations. But can something be done to decrease all the pains to make living with others a positive experience? Is there a product that could improve the lives of people in shared households?

The Team

I collaborated with a talented team of individuals…


Why don’t millennials vote? Younger generations have historically had the lowest voter turnout rates in every election. According to the US Census Bureau, only 46.1% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2016 election. What can be done to increase voter turnout among younger generations? Can a product be created to solve this problem?

The Team

I worked with a team of talented designers during the beginning stages of this project. We were responsible for our own research, which we brought together to get a more complete picture of the problem at hand, and collaborated on persona…

Katie Stakland

Product Designer in Chicago, IL

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