Making your paperwork a piece of cake

Video sketch of how Papercake could exist in the context of someone's life.



We presented our concept at Microsoft's Design Expo in their headquarters in Redmond, Washington.



Our slides from the Design Expo presentation.

Presenting Papercake at Microsoft's Design Expo 2012. I happen to love public
speaking or any opportunity to have the microphone.


We were given the Best Product Concept Award
for Papercake.


Project: Studio II coursework sponsored by Microsoft and Motorola. Prompt "Information in my World" and "Information Overload".
Personal contributions: Market research, contextual interviews, expert interviews, participant recruiting, research on behavior change and motivation to motivating the unmotivated user, photo documentation, writing blog entries and presentation scripts, team logistics, photography for video sketch, crafted the pitch, public speaking coach, liaison with Microsoft, created quadrant quiz
Shared contributions: Research, interviews, ideation, storyboarding, speed dating, documentation, slide presentation, wireframes



For this project, sponsored by Microsoft, teams were asked to design around the prompt “Information in my World” and “Information Overload". At the end of the project, Microsoft picked a winning team to present their concept at the Design Expo in Redmond, Washington. My team’s concept won this honor.

What is Papercake?

Papercake is a website and mobile app which helps you achieve your life goals by giving you step-by-step action plans. The system gives you tools to learn about, organize and share your important documents securely in the cloud.

What's the big problem?

If you are like most people we talked to, you probably have these in a pile at home and just looking at it gives you some level of anxiety.

What's the fix?

To combat this problem, we did contextual interviews and generative research to understand how people currently deal with their important documents. After synthesizing our findings we created wireframes and a clickable prototype that we validated with user testing.

My personal contribution was to champion the unmotivated user who doesn’t care about staying on top of her documents. I integrated our findings with the current literature on motivation that leads to behavior change. The emphasis on the unmotivated user was, I think, what made us stand out above the competition.


Our team's process is explained in detail on our blog where I documented our initial brainstorming, territory mapping, contextual interviews, storyboards, wireframes, prototypes and diagrams.

Handout & quiz

Visitors to our booth at the Expo received this handout showing our final interface for web and mobile along with the key features of Papercake. On the back, I created a quiz to show what organizational style participants have and how that fits into Papercake's profile quadrants.

Quick and dirty process photo essay

For the full process, see our blog.


Exploratory research

life events

My early sketch of the major life milestones and transitions that involve important documents.


early personas

Early profile sketches of different types of users at different stages of a milestone.


consequences white board draft

I challenged my group members throughout the project to keep asking themselves, "So what?! Why should
the user care?" From this exercise we articulated the consequence continuum if you don't get your shit together.


consequences with Joey and Benjamin

The Consequence Continuum shown through our two personas, Joey (the responsible one who backed up
his hard drive) and Benjamin (the irresponsible one). The black figures on Benjamin's line represent the
other people Benjamin will have to inconvenience in order to get his files restored.


Generative Research


Participants were asked to collage their organizational systems as they stand now, and how they would
want them to be in the future.


Participants sorted cards onto a bullseye. The cards each had one type of important document listed on them
such as insurance documents or health records. The center of the bullseye represented the most important
documents to the participant and the outer most circle represented the least important or those documents
that are off their radar completely.


Research Findings

collage findings

game of life findings

research findings

These six elements became our design implications that grew into learn, organize, and share.


unexpected findings




We came up with three concepts as possible final deliverables. To hone in on one, we storyboarded
each idea and used speed dating to see what people would find useful.



We also looked at the potential in each to motive the user. The motivational features were borrowed from
BJ Fogg's research and Chip and Dan Heath's book "Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard".


matrix to decide

And because we like to be thorough, we made a matrix to judge each idea.


winner - comprehensive system

The winner was the comprehensive system which became Papercake.