Building up a human-centered design process with PingPong

Brett Polonsky, Director of UX/UI @ A Place for Mom

Problem: Building a human-centered design process and growing a UX team

In the past, APFM outsourced the UX and design but this wasn’t optimal for them. The leadership team was keen to change this and get the design work done in-house.

This is a big structural and operational challenge which takes time but pays off quickly. The in-house UX and design team can work much closer with the entire organization, advocate design thinking and embrace human-centered design.


Brett was hired as the Director of UX/UI to take on this challenge and help bring the UX design in-house. With his expertise in building digital design teams, Brett played a major role in growing APFM’s UX team from zero to three (and growing) UX designers; all of whom knew how important user research is in order to best create user-friendly designs. Together as a team, they thought strategically on how to best tackle usability testing and how to get the wider team involved. That’s when they decided to facilitate and run user tests through PingPong.

Using PingPong became especially helpful considering the scope of APFM’s audience. It’s tough to access their target market — of which is scattered across the US and Canada — for qualitative research. But with PingPong’s remote usability testing, they can cast a wider net to get the qualitative data needed to iterate on design prototypes rapidly.

“We really like having PingPong. It gives us a nice reach so we can go across the whole country easily and target our audience in a specific way.”

They used the insights that they collected from testing participants to iterate on their prototypes and get the design and messaging right.

“We wanted to make sure that we get the messaging correct, so when people come to a page, they understand who we are, what we do, why they should care, and what they should do next.”

Upon reviewing the thorough user feedback from PingPong, the company’s key stakeholders were impressed. Ever since then, PingPong helps the design team bring the user and their feedback closer to the entire company.

“With PingPong we can create a better experience by having spoken to users and understanding exactly what they’re looking for.”


Since APFM’s UX team has been putting in the work to make the overall user experience better upon landing on the website, they managed to increase their conversion rates. And ultimately, helping their customers to find a new home for their loved ones.

“We evangelize what we’re doing with PingPong.”

The UX team does regular check-ins with leadership, as well as all-hands meetings with the company at large. Through these sessions, they walk through their most recent tests performed with and results of PingPong.

Having the whole company excited about user testing really brings the company together around the user. The design team also encourages other teams to observe user tests live (with PingPong’s Observer feature) and provide feedback over a Slack channel to help the research facilitator in the moment.

“Whether you’re in Finance or Product, you can learn a lot by seeing how people use your tools.”

The UX team also organises regular sharing sessions to inform everyone on the product usability tests. They also post the user testing schedule over Slack, giving all those interested the ability to participate. They also help the company at large understand the purpose of the research and how the results will help improve the product.

“It's a work in progress. We're continuously growing the UX tests and trying to find more ways to get more of the company involved.”

About Brett Polonsky

Brett is the UX/UI Director at A Place For Mom. He helped introduce a human-centered design focus and design-thinking methodologies to the company while evangelizing User Experience across internal and external teams. Prior to APFM, he’s been a Creative Director in multiple verticles, written four books for Microsoft, taught web design and traveled the US and the UK as a public speaker on web design and usability.

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