Building IDEO a new home for social innovation

In brief

OpenIDEO—IDEO’s open innovation practice—was struggling to scale with a confusing web and dysfunctional mobile experience. In partnership with Shane Zhao and a small but mighty team, I led a complete redesign of OpenIDEO’s brand and digital presence. Managing diverse collaborators and constraints, we addressed some tricky usability issues, refreshed OpenIDEO's core product design, and completely revamped the brand to help people worldwide design better, together.

UX/UI design, management, UX writing, research, strategy, brand design

How might we solve the world's toughest problems?


In partnership with impact-driven organizations, OpenIDEO brought people together on a digital platform to collaboratively share ideas and design solutions to today’s toughest problems—from refugee education to global health to food waste.

The problem: the digital experience at the core of OpenIDEO’s platform was outdated, confusing, and tough to navigate.
OpenIDEO had engaged 250k+ people around the globe, partnered with orgs from Nike to the UN, and helped distribute millions to fund promising orgs and ideas.
Our challenge was to design better ways for people worldwide to engage with OpenIDEO—and to design better together.
OpenIDEO was pushing the limits of open innovation, but its digital platform was falling short. It was time to create some change.

To clarify our core usability issues, we conducted a research sprint—gathering insights from users, IDEO stakeholders, competitors, and analytics to inform an evidence-based design approach.

After an extensive site audit, competitive analysis, and series of user and stakeholder interviews, we could finally understand our design challenges in context:
By our launch day, we’d have some great memories (and metrics) to celebrate.

Let's help people design better, together

Storytelling solutions

Our research made clear that walls of text weren’t effectively communicating how to engage with OpenIDEO. We replaced them with clean UI, punchy copy, and visuals that reflected the vibrancy of OpenIDEO’s global community.

I worked with our visual designer Erika to create animations that rapidly conveyed the scale, benefits, and modes of participation on OpenIDEO.
We had struggled to concisely introduce new users to OpenIDEO, the global community, and the open innovation Challenge process. Our solution: tell the story visually.
User solutions

Addressing issues with wayfinding and discovery, I focused on streamlining OpenIDEO's information architecture and core user experience—efficiently guiding diverse audiences to what they needed and where they were needed most.

We created tailored flows to guide new users, reengage the existing community, and inspire world-class orgs to partner with OpenIDEO.
Product solutions

Anticipating OpenIDEO's growth, our revamped design approach prioritized a more flexible CMS and component library, smarter search and navigation, and an improved onboarding experience.

Balancing business goals and product requirements, I worked to upgrade the Challenge Brief and create an effective central hub for the open innovation Challenge experience.
Our updated UI could flex to fit the many happenings and increasing scale of the OpenIDEO community.

Going global: building on a strong foundation

Developing, branding & marketing

Alongside our digital redesign, I coordinated a comprehensive refresh of the OpenIDEO brand—rethinking everything from foundational brand strategy to visual/verbal guidelines to assets and illustrations. By the time we began our development work on Webflow, the new face of OpenIDEO better reflected its bold aspirations, creative approach, and global community.

To get the word out about the new OpenIDEO, I executed a multichannel marketing campaign aligned with our updated brand strategy.
Email also needed an upgrade. After a research sprint, I prototyped fast, flexible options that worked with Mailchimp's constraints.
Refining the design, I launched Open Letter—a strategic asset to showcase OpenIDEO’s content while driving user engagement.
Product management

After launch, I focused on creating efficient processes to maintain and develop OpenIDEO's digital presence. This meant coordinating with engineers to build new product features, drafting accessible documentation, and onboarding the broader OpenIDEO team to continue building on this new digital foundation.

As a great bookend to this project, the Webflow team extended an invite to speak about our process. This was a meaningful opportunity to reflect and share what we’d learned in our efforts to help OpenIDEO's growing community design for good.
Key results

In the months after launch, it was exciting to see positive trends across our KPIs and hear this affirmed in user feedback—with some thoughtful UX/UI/brand interventions, we were making it easier for people worldwide to come together and design change.

“Elana is a delightful person to work with and always finds a way to push a project forward. She has a keen understanding of design and is multi-disciplinary in her approach. Elana empowers others to do their best work, is a fantastic collaborator, and is never shy to do the hard work needed to make a project successful.”
Kaye Han
Project collaborator, now VP Marketing, Parity Technologies