In a fast-paced automotive startup, how might we develop an innovative design management workflow from a user experience perspective to help product development teams work more collaboratively and smoothly?

My Role / 

In this large-scale creative project, I led UX research, design thinking course training, design operations and design management. Fully collaborated with engineers, product owners, and product planners for design vision and iterative versions from a user experience perspective.


Client / 



Project Deliverables/ 

Research insight report

Ecosystem and stakeholder map

Blueprint map and user flow

Bluebook and design guideline

UX Toolkit and playbook

NIO Persona


Year / 


Milestone / 


In just one and a half years, the Experience Manager system has reviewed over 390 design decisions in 7 design reviews, and more than 85% of employees have started to follow the Experience Manager and maintain a positive opinion of how the design mindset is transforming their work. It's also a redesign of internal organizational management.

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As the IoT continues to evolve, the focus of future cars has shifted from purely functional purposes to cross-touch point, multi-sensory experiences. The automotive industry is on the cusp of profound change. We believe that it is not just the products and technologies that must change, but the way people interact with those products and the whole human experience of ownership. 


At present, most of the new energy vehicle manufactures in the market still have a relatively large proportion of technology research and development. However, the other way of thinking is different, and NIO believes that in the near future, cars will go a step further, freeing people from driving and giving them the freedom of time. Not just a car company, but an IoT company that sees itself as providing an experience that offers four different touch points. Car, APP, power service and sharing physical space. Users can get a better driving experience after each FOTA (Firmware Over-The-Air). At the same time, NIO is the first EV company in the world to allow EV owners to order valet charging van directly on the NIO APP. This demonstrates the company's commitment to service design as a valuable way to build a sustainable EV ecosystem for end users and all stakeholders. This has spawned NIO as a "user enterprise".


To do this, the key task is to stimulate creative thinking between designers, engineers and product managers, improve teamwork capabilities, and allow cross-functional teams to interface around real end users, the biggest challenge in the process of adopting an end-to-end new product development ecosystem is to open up communication between different departments and interface with people with a design thinking mindset. All experts in the business need to break out of their old working inertia and translate market and consumer understanding into new products. This needs to be done in terms of decision-making mechanisms, cultural introduction, design thinking training, etc. The management of a range of design strategies and design activities to influence and change product development in a more rational and scientific way to maximise profits for the business. This groundbreaking design process is more than a simple roadmap; it is implemented as an industry milestone.













Design Process

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Key Insights and Highlights


In order to figure out the problems that have arisen in the current vehicle development process, we have identified the main ones through forwarded feedback from our staff: The existing workflow is traditional and doesn't have a fast iterative pace, however, efficiency is critical for any startup to scale and survive. 


In addition, the lack of communication channels makes it more difficult for everyone to work together with other stakeholders within the company. How do we bring all employees of a company together for the same goal? This is the biggest challenge we face in large scale collaborative work. Through several rounds of interviews, we've unearthed design opportunities in future automotive industry R&D. Among other things, there is an urgent need to improve the design process and communication across departments.


As user expectations grow, they tie the sustainability of a business to the voice of the user, and we understand that selling cars is not the end of our interaction with users. We need to resonate with the daily lives of our users to help us improve our products. The user needs to be at the center of our service and product development process. We need to ensure that users have a voice in making critical business decisions. One step we have taken is to incorporate the performance of the user experience into the overall performance of the product department. To do this, we need to work across teams to integrate design and development efforts, starting with re-planning the product development process.







The traditional product mindset leads to a lack of integration experience. Through the user experience perspective, we can fully consider the cognitive psychology of all users in order to uncover the pain points and expectations encountered in the user experience, so that the team can optimize the product.
Through in-depth interviews to help with pain point discovery in various departments, finding pinning design opportunities to optimize the experience
NIO has rich and diverse digital and tangible products, such as car, APP, AI assistance system, attempting to build a complete product experience ecosystem

Problem Statement

In a fast-paced automotive startup, how might we develop an innovative design management workflow from a user experience perspective to help product development teams work more collaboratively and smoothly?

Design Solution- Experience Manager

Experience Manager system allows automotive startups to put user-centered design thinking into the product planning process to increase the understanding of the real needs of the user, while introducing the voice of the customer into the development process in an organized and efficient way, EM system provides a set of perspectives, methods and tools to start with the following four aspects: Develop a user experience toolkit, establish a digital service design platform for product management, establish evaluation mechanisms and design thinking training.


To build creative capabilities, we believe that everyone who co-builds a product within the enterprise, whether an engineer, a vehicle and test technician, or a market analyst, should be an end user-centric designer. This means all the functional progress based on user needs and, more relevantly, identifying which experiences generate positive and deep cues for users to iterate product in the health close loop, For that, the system gives the organization a brand new role who works as a team, the internal product planner, we call the "Experience manager" (EM). Applied a service design approach such as a customer journey map to build the experience. Once the use case requires more cross-management, the EM team leader recommends pushing a coordinator as a vehicle journey level to manage the journey relatively holistically in the close loop, which includes:


1. Product Planning Phase - Benchmark research, target user interviews, product value proposition, etc.

2. DEMO Phase - Prototype testing, UXUI design, etc.

3. Pre-launch Phase -  Multivariate Testing, usability testing, user experience validation, eye movement testing, etc.

4. Post-launch Phase - User satisfaction score, KANO analysis and backstage data analysis, etc.

5. Product Version Iteration Phase - New feature research, brand research, lost user analysis, etc.

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End-to-end workflow design for EM, we encourage all experience managers start the product planning project from contextual inquiry  
Combined with online product management platform, the toolkit helps teams consider the customer journey from UCD perspective
Innovative Persona toolkit allows teams to access the latest key info about target users by scanning QR code
Ran Design thinking training course for all EMs regularly , coaching on design methodology, interview techniques, usability testing, etc.
Conducted internal product validation and pilot test with real user in
test vehicle before official launch

"Electric vehicle startup NIO ranks highest in J.D. Power’s inaugural China New Energy Vehicle Experience Index Study, which measures new-vehicle quality by monitoring problems reported by EV owners in the first two to six months of ownership. "

-- 2019, J.D. Power

How did we get to this achievement in just one year? The answer is EM system, through a combination of evaluation systems and tools, we successfully implemented this system in the highest product decision streams throughout the company to help R&D teams no longer work with the traditional one-way product manager thinking, but to re-engage the workflow horizontally with customer journey concept, enabling a good experience from the user's perspective.

We use mechanism design to help EMs master together:

1, Problem description and judgment.

2, Scenario description and experience principles.

3, Experience impact, problem impact on experience and improvement options.

4, Market impact and development resources.

5, Resolutions and plans 



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We designed new project management platforms that incorporate the concept of service blueprint to support remote collaboration tasks
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To solve complex problem, EM can conduct design sprint with experts in different fields through a complete team-up mechanism

Projects Completed


Experience Definition


Product Experience


Delivered FOTA

( Firmware Over-The-Air )

In 2019, through the EM mechanism, we have iterated the product and successfully delivered ...

Vehicle remote charging mode experience
NIO Power Service - Charging Navigation Map Upgrade
Independent R&D - NIO Polit User Scene Refinement


As a pioneer in the electric vehicle market, NIO has spared no effort to invest in design innovation. The team hired experts from different industries to create products that exceed users' expectations. In this way, NIO can effectively mobilize the creative thinking of designers to transform market and consumer understanding into new products, influence and change people's lives in a new and more rational and scientific way. and manage a series of design strategies and design activities. I found it's so key to maximize profits for enterprises at the same time. To do so, we need to trial and error again and again.


When I was leading the whole service design knowledge introduction, I found that as a real project to be landed, it needs to be integrated with the original product development system to ensure that the cost of learning of all the staff is reasonable and digestible, so that they are willing to work with the new working mode.

In the book ”Creative Confidence“ published by IDEO, the concept that everyone can be a designer no matter their original background and should have the confidence of being a designer to change the world. I hope I can spread this belief to all of my work partners as I work on this huge system design project. It's great to have many engineering background partners  were happy just like children during the co-creation workshop with me. Beyond improving the function design, they had positive praise for the benefits of design thinking for them, which is my most valuable asset in this project.