Yoojin Song: fostering meaningful exchanges between people and digital products

Yoojin Song, a New York-based product designer, brings a creative approach to fostering meaningful exchanges between people and digital products. Her expertise lies in UX design, UI design, and interaction design. She views design as a problem-solving tool and a means to enhance the connection between digital and physical experiences. Her passion for research-driven and human-centered design is evident in her work, which aims to bring joy to people’s lives. She is always on the lookout for opportunities to expand her design knowledge and skills and to tackle interesting, real-world challenges.

Ever since Yoojin was little, she was full of curiosity. She was always asking, “Why?” until she got it and until making her family get sick of her. Now, questions are the fuel for her creative fire. She sees everything through the lens of possibilities and progress, problems and solutions. She feels the most herself when using her intellectual and creative powers to solve problems and dream up new and improved ways of doing things. Her attention is largely focused on the world around her, and she is constantly listening and observing to extract creative, beautiful, yet functional solutions and be a more empathetic designer. By uniquely combining strategic rigor with bold creativity, she confidently drives meaningful growth and creates dynamic, holistic experiences.

On her side, every day, she swims in tabs to read and learn deeper to upgrade her knowledge, and the practice is never enough for her. She is a natural risk-taker with an insatiable desire to expand boundaries and explore uncharted territories. She is not the one to do things the way they’ve always been done. She thrives when working in service of large-scale change and progress, and her talents equip me well for roles that allow her to experiment and play with ideas. She always kept an eye out for new challenges and places where learning and retooling are encouraged. So, it was not a smooth road, but she always tried to stay humble and learn from everyone and everything. Every single step she took in her career path, the challenges she faced, and all the feedback she got was a true gem that made her a better designer.

One of Yoojin’s notable projects as a lead product designer is “AccessibleNYC,” which won in many prestigious awards including Muse Creative Awards, ADC Awards by The One Club, Indigo Design Awards, Graphis Design Awards and Creative Conscience. Yoojin noticed navigating around New York City can be confusing and frustrating, especially for people with disabilities. Besides, train delays, emergency stops, malfunctioning elevators and even weather conditions are challenges for them. However, most of New York City’s public transit system is not disability-friendly, and only about a quarter of the subway and train stations are fully accessible. So, she passionately started a project to make New York City more inclusive and accessible, a testament to her dedication to social impact.

The AccessibleNYC app aims to create a personalized, seamless travel experience based on users’ disability type, interests, and needs. It is a digital product that allows New Yorkers with disabilities to explore the city at their best capacity and make them feel included in our community. The app works as an information hub as well as a useful navigation and communication tool for disabled users.
Yoojin says that as a product designer, her favorite part of the creative process is understanding the problem through empathy interviews and user research. This phase allows her to connect deeply with users, uncovering their needs, challenges, and aspirations firsthand. It combines analytical rigor with emotional intelligence, providing critical insights that guide the design process. By immersing herself in the user’s world and gathering data-driven evidence, this foundation of empathy and understanding ensures that her designs genuinely improve user experiences and address their core problems.

Another remarkable project is “BankMate by Barclays,” for which Yoojin received recognitions from the D&AD New Blood Awards, Indigo Design Awards, Graphis Design Awards, and Creative Conscience as a lead product designer. BankMate is designed to help neurodivergent people save money with less stress and gain financial confidence with their Mates by their side. The neurodiverse community often struggles with a wide range of unique conditions that can make it challenging to manage their finances. Yoojin’s team created BankMate, a platform where neurodivergent people can partner with a trusted loved one to help ease those symptoms and meet their financial goals. Users can invite their inner circle to manage their daily budgets and leave comments for support. BankMate allows users to share goals with their Mate. Pairs can track each other’s progress and send friendly reactions to upkeep motivation. Extending to ATMs, users are prompted to contribute their deposit to a shared goal, making it a holistic experience. Juries and industry experts spoke highly of her project:

“The idea was very different from any of the other entries, but it did trigger something for me. It provided more then just a solution for one group of people but could be expanded upon for a larger target audience. It creates a loop with real people and real consequences. It is super straightforward but has never been done before. A deserved Yellow Pencil.” – Evert Martin, Senior HMI/UX Designer, Inert & Toyota

“BankMate clearly communicated their idea and executed their solution really well.” – Mala Vadhia, Design Operations Manager, Barclays

“This entry was a great example of the entrant who was able to draw on a core insight, placing it firmly at the centre of the idea before focussing on the digital execution (which in itself was crafted well with obvious consideration to the overall user experience).” –  Akhil Morjaria, Experience Strategy Director, TPXimpact

Yoojin was also interested in and passionate about children’s education. One of her projects, “Bank of America Kids” and “10 UNDER 10” campaign, calls out young money masters and promotes an experiential platform to help kids form fun financial habits through various activities. Parents do their best to pass on all sorts of vital life lessons to set their kids up for a sound start in life. But what about one on being good with money? Teaching kids about money can be one of the most valuable and powerful lessons they can receive. But it’s not always the easiest to discuss, and there are various aspects to consider. So, Yoojin started to think about how we could shine a light on the world of money for kids and empower financially smart kids. This project won the Indigo Awards, Graphis Design Awards, and Creative Conscience.

She was also featured as a lead product designer for “BBC Pal,” which won the D&AD New Blood Awards and Creative Conscience. She newly introduced BBC PAL to connect younger children with learning experiences anywhere, anytime by asking questions to a virtual pal who can respond to every child’s curiosity in mind. Learning can happen anywhere but younger children with busy parents are less likely to be exposed to education than those staying with parents all the time. So, Yoojin’s team created an app that helps them enjoy an enormous amount of fun and learning. Industry experts applauded it as:

“We chose BBC Discover and BBC Pal as our Yellow Pencil winners. Both answered the brief with creative ideas and catered perfectly to their target audiences. BBC Pal’s simplicity would fit perfectly into the real world.” – Jayde-Olivia Sandy, Product Designer, Seera Group

“BBC Pal stood out due to its simplicity and the quality of the design and graphics. Whilst it was a much simpler execution than many other entries, it felt very well considered and was well targeted to the younger audience.” – Andrew Johnstone, Creative Lead, Canva

Yoojin says as a product designer, what makes a “creative” idea or design is the ability to combine innovation, functionality, and user-centric thinking in a way that solves problems and enhances user experience. A truly creative idea or design stands out because it brings something new to the table, addresses user needs effectively, and does so in a manner that is both aesthetically pleasing and practical. She is an innovator who loves generating new ideas and innovative solutions. She constantly probes its structures and systems to find ways to push things forward. She has an insatiable desire to expand boundaries and explore uncharted territories. She thrives when working in service of large-scale change and progress, and her talents equip her well for roles that allow her to experiment and play with ideas. She will keep her journey on creating meaningful and human-centered designs, solving problems, and aiming to bring joy to people’s lives.

Website: www.yoojin-s.com

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user160661029