Catherine Hicks
User Experience and Product Design Professional

AOL Interview exercise

Both an in person and take home interview exercise for a contract role At AOL

Business Problem

Let's imagine that we want to release a companion mobile app that has a single purpose: to help the user shopping for a consumer electronics product make an educated buying decision. We should harness the rich product data from and

So imagine this scenario: a smartphone-­‐owning mom or dad walks into Best Buy and has no idea which router to buy, but there are 50 in the store to choose from. It's confusing and intimidating. How can we help?




I sketched a couple of ideas with this task in mind. Initially I had the idea of clicking through each individual product by search, but then decided that was too cumbersome and came up with the ideas presented here

  • The main purpose of the sketches was to present my idea to the hiring manager for this particular role.
  • I made lots of assumptions on this exercise because I wasn't given much information or given access to ask follow up questions when given the exercise. So a lot of things I would normally ask for (user details, research etc) were unavailable to me.I made the assumptions that I made in completing this exercise clear to the hiring manager at time of exercise submittal
  • I went through a few different ideas and ended up choosing this one because I felt it best answered the question at hand in the most succinct way since this site was geared towards non technical users


The biggest design challenge was making some concrete decisions on what was basically a very vague question, and not having any ability to ask for the details I normally would since this was a design exercise. I made assumptions based on the knowledge I had of both e-commerce, having worked on an e-commerce website launch previously, and my general knowledge of people who are not technically savvy users from previous projects

What did I learn?

At this point in my career, I probably would not do a design exercise in order to obtain a job because I have much more experience in the field than I did at this time that speaks to my expertise, but if I did I learned to make sure I had the ability to ask follow up questions and to get clarity before I begin a design exercise for a potential client.