Design Chats

A Look Inside Design at PayPal

4 min read
Aaron Beashel
  •  Apr 3, 2014
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We’re tracking down InVision users inside the world’s most amazing companies to discover their favorite tools, inspirations, workspace must-haves, and the philosophy behind what makes them so awesome. This week we interviewed Chooake Wongwattanasilpa, Head of User Experience Design at PayPal, Asia-Pacific.

Tell us about your role and responsibilities at PayPal.

Leading the design team here, my responsibility is to make sure me and my team are always shipping something amazing. At the end of the day, the product has to go out the door no matter what.Twitter Logo It has to matter for the user and it has to save time for merchants.

About 60 percent of my time is spent coaching and mentoring my team based on my experience. 30 percent is spent spent collaborating with other teams including project teams and the legal department for compliance, and then 10 percent is admin and management tasks.

Wireframing is dying – Prototyping is the way forward.

How did you get into design and what was your path into your current role?

I got a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. When I graduated in 2000, the online movement was gaining momentum so I started to learn how to code and how to design web products.

I landed my first job at a financial research company called Morningstar and after that moved onto Motorola as a mobile designer, helping carriers adopt user interfaces.

Relocating to Silicon Valley in 2006, I joined PayPal working on the checkout product. After about three and a half years we realized in order to grow the Asia-Pacific business, we needed a design team in the region, so I moved to Singapore four years ago and have built up a team from 1 person to about 18 people.

What are the three critical elements of an effective workspace?

There are definitely a few things I couldn’t live without:

  • Wacom tablet – I have it on my work desk and use it all the time (even in a coffee shop).
  • Noise-Cancelling headphones – They help me focus when I’m designing.
  • iPad Mini – I do lots of note-taking in Evernote.

What are some of the tools you use in the design process?

There’s a definitely a few:

  • Whiteboard – I usually start with a whiteboard and invite the key people on a project in. I use a whiteboard to understand the key problems we are trying to solve.
  • Omnigraffle – I do some quick wireframing in Omnigraffle and before moving on to prototyping.
  • Photoshop – I do the full visual design in Photoshop as per our brand and UI guidelines.
  • InVision – For turning those designs into clickable prototypes, building the interaction, and then collecting feedback.

Designers, more so than ever, need to keep up with changing expectations.

What equipment are you using and how does it help you do your job effectively?

I use a MacBook Pro with Retina Display hooked up to a 27-inch Cinema Display. I know this a pretty standard setup for designers but it just works.

What design blogs, news sites or magazines are you loving at the moment?

I read a few blogs and online sources to keep up to date, including:

I also follow a few people on Dribbble and Béhance, including:

Who do you follow on Twitter who you think is awesome?

Where do you look for inspiration for your designs?

I look to a lot of different sources for inspiration, particularly architecture, aquascape and paper art & culture.

I read a lot of magazines and books on product design as well as a number of Japanese architecture books so I can understand human evolution and design principles.

To be a great designer you not only need to be good at design, but you need to know how to sell your ideas.

What do you think are the wider industry trends that are changing the nature of your role?

The web is speeding up, transitioning from low bandwidth with static images to become a more interactive place.

The internet is now handling more multimedia content including video, parallax scrolling, and interaction. That’s a good thing for products but the drawback is that, as designers, we need to learn faster.Twitter Logo

Previously we were able to design and hand over wireframes, but now with heightened interactivity in the mix, that’s no longer effective. Wireframing is dying – Prototyping is the way forward.Twitter Logo Handing off design specs as a wireframe just isn’t enough anymore.

Designers, more so than ever, need to keep up with changing expectationsTwitter Logo – they need to know how to optimize pages and find a balance between rich interactivity and speed.

What, in your opinion, separates a good designer from a great one?

I think to be a great designer you not only need to be good at design, but you need to know how to sell your ideas.Twitter Logo There are so many designers who produce good work but they fall short because they can’t sell their ideas. Steve Jobs is a great example of someone who knew how to weave a story around the benefits of a product. It always comes back to communication.Twitter Logo

Whats one piece of advice you’d give other designers who want to eventually get a position at somewhere as awesome as Paypal?

Always be designing – That way, you’ll keep learning and improving.Twitter Logo

PayPal Gallery

  • They’re finally making a movie about clocks. It’s about time.

Collaborate in real time on a digital whiteboard