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5% Cash-back on Prepaid Cards

Saving a revolutionary and potentially profitable project with a simple UX interface design and API update.

This case study is not one where I will show fantastic earth-shattering UX. Or even a "see-what-I-can-do" UI design showcase. So why is it in my portfolio? Honestly, it's because I am proud that I was the architect of the solution and, at first, the lone voice advocating to save what I knew could become a highly profitable program that was hours away from being scuttled. It is also here because it highlights the courage of a junior UX designer to speak up for what is right and who listened to his instinct to know when it was prudent to do so. However, the most important reason is to highlight the collaboration between UX/UI and engineering that made it all come together.   

I started my UX career with American Express Incentive Services (AEIS), taking on my first role as a UX designer. Later AEIS became InteliSpend, LLC, then was acquired by the Blackhawk Network in 2013. The market differentiator for AEIS had always been DirectSpend™, a patented technology capable of isolating spend on prepaid networks filtered to specific merchants. It was the engine behind the company's successful reward and incentive programs that powered employee recognition to customer loyalty. It was perfect for those programs because it limited the use of prepaid cards to select merchants making the experience of their use much more meaningful. Meaningful in that the chosen merchants were usually high-end or highly desired.

Evolution of American Express into Blackhawk

DirectSpend was also great for the Merchants because it drove securely funded, ready-to-buy now traffic to their brand. As such, merchants were always eager to participate in AEIS programs

List of filter merchants

The Solution

A comprehensive solution for the first problem, tech debt, wouldn't happen because of limited resources, dollars, and headcount, and explains the mandate of UX only changes. Also, without being able to tackle the real culprit, the backend code, it felt like we had hit a brick wall until I, a couple of dev leads, and the product owner asked this question of the project.

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