Mihai Ionut MARIN

UX / UI Designer

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Mihai Marin

About Me

Mihai Ionut MARIN

Creative problem solving UX Designer with 10+ years’ experience, working in highly dynamic environments with reputable international brands known for their commitment for high quality design principles and customer focused strategies.

As a person who isn’t afraid of the ”pen and paper” approach, I take part in the end-to-end UX process, from research to design and testing, utilising user centered design principles aimed at developing multi-platform experiences.

Two of my preferred design approaches revolve around data driven and user driven design. The reason for this is that critical design decisions should always be founded either on data analytics results or on personas characteristics and behavioural specifics. By combining the two approaches, the output becomes not only pragmatic but also user friendly.

My key strengths are my active listening skills that help me understand and define problems while creating the right solutions. These are doubled by my “doer” attitude and seamless team spirit developed through working in Agile environments.

Skills & Tools

  • UX skills: user research, user observations, usability testing, prototyping;
  • UX tools: Invision, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, Sketch, Axure, Fireworks, Adobe XD, Brackets;
  • Front-end skills: CSS, HTML, SASS, jQuery, JavaScript;
  • Design skills: typography, color matching, compositional arrangement;
  • Motion graphics tools: Premiere, After Effects, Flash;
  • Project Management tools: JIRA, Base Camp, Trello.

Experience

UX Designer (Full time): Nov 2016 - present

Company, location: Axa Insurance, Cobham - Surrey
Domain: Insurance - part of the AXA Group, the number one global insurance brand and a worldwide leader in financial services.

Manage design, delivery and maintenance of Axa Personal Lines engaging end-to-end user experience across all channels.

UX Designer (Full time): Apr 2015 - Nov 2016

Company, location: Rentalcars.com, Manchester
Domain: Car Rental - the largest online car rental reservation agency in the world, part of Priceline Group that also includes Booking.com, Priceline.com, Kayak.com, OpenTable and Agoda.com

Starting with the initial phase of product definition, my role is to craft ideas and to develop experiences. User research and quantitative data analysis are the foundation of my work. These feed into the mockups and scenarios that I create. The next step is to deliver wireframes, prototypes and also html files, as I have a background in Web Design as well. Using A/B testing results, I continuously improve the delivered design. I collaborate with back-end developers, sharing insights and approaches through all the phases of product development. My back-end knowledge helps me better understand their requirements while contributing to a tailored communication.

The work delivery style is based on Agile Methodology. As such, I work in an Agile environment with 2-week Sprints. Based on Scrum methodology, tasks are added after checking previous experiments and analytics or as a result of ideas meetings, where I contribute with feedback for existing ideas or with alternative new design ideas to the current backlog.

Being a data driven company, there is a high emphasis on optimization, where every design iteration is A/B tested (or multi variate testing) with users. The result is an iterative design process that does not imply blindly replacing interface elements with alternative new design ideas, but in basing design decisions on experiential justification and quantifiable results.

Freelancer (Project-based): Jul 2000 - present

Company: Freelancer
Domain: Telecommunications, Retail, Project Management, Financial Services

Lead and delivered various freelance projects that required design and development of websites, short movies, presentations, catalogues, banners for reputable international brands.

Some of the companies I collaborated with are: Asirom, Bancpost, Cartoon Network, Dr. Oetker, Garanti, Generali, Kraft, Nestle, Radisson, Romtelecom, Say, Skoda, Sprider Stores, Tchibo, Ursus Breweries, Vodafone, Western Union, Wind.

Web / UX / UI Designer (Full time): Jul 2012 - Apr 2015

Company, location: ORANGE Romania, Bucharest
Domain: Telecommunications - Orange is a leading network operator for mobile, broadband internet and fixed line in 32 countries.

My contribution was to design and develop sections of Orange.ro website while using tools such as Invison, Photoshop, Illustrator, Brackets. I collaborated closely with stakeholders from the Marketing Department.

The sections I was responsible for were:

  • Orange TV Go, a television multiscreen platform which can be viewed on smartphones and tablets with either Android or iOS operating systems. I developed the interaction design and UI for the platform. I collaborated with product managers, engineers, executive leaders and countless teams within Orange Group to deploy the TV experience on Orange TV;
  • Orange 4G section where I redesigned the section from concept to wireframe and design;
  • Orange e-Shop updates.

Web Designer (Full time): Sep 2014 - Jan 2015

Company, location: ORANGE Group, London
Domain: Telecommunications - Orange is a leading network operator for mobile, broadband internet and fixed line in 32 countries.

As a result of positive feedback received, I took part in a 5 month secondment at Orange Group. I was involved in the design and development of multi-screen e-Shop modules for Orange Group websites.

Flash Designer (Full time): Jul 2009 - Jun 2012

Company, location: Frank Communication, Bucharest
Domain: Advertising

Working for an advertising agency, gave me the opportunity to experience a wide range of tasks and to have a broad exposure to clients from various industries, with diverse design strategies. Among my deliverables were: animations, websites, banner campaigns, flash mini-games, layouts, Facebook applications.

Web / Print / UI Designer (Full time): May 2001 - Jul 2009

Company, location: The Institute for Computerised Technology, Bucharest
Domain: Internet, Government and Public Sector

The core part of my first design role were to develop multimedia applications, develop multimedia CDs, presentations, websites. Some of the deliverables were made in collaboration with The Ministry of Education and Research and The Ministry of Culture (e.g. "TRANSILVANIA", "ROMANIA", "BRANCUSI", "Sparks for the new millennium", etc.).

Education

University (graduate)
Bucharest Academy for Economic Studies (1997 - 2001), Major: Management, Sub-Major: Marketing.

Learning & Development

  • Adobe Authorized training courses: Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver;
  • Photography courses;
  • Project Management Professional (in progress);
  • Google Online Marketing Academy - Google AdWords certification training.

Foreign Languages

  • Romanian - Native;
  • English - Advanced;
  • French - Beginner.

download my CV [ ]

download my UX Portfolio [ ]

Work

UX / UI Design


The Brief

On search results the car categories filter is displayed as a carousel. From analytics it resulted that a good part of the users did not realise that they have to vertically scroll in order to see the rest of the car categories. This meant that the users did not have access to tailored information, could not find the right car and, as a consequence, could leave the website without making any bookings.

The agreed approach was to reduce the number of car categories from 12 to 7. The criteria for identifying the 7 new categories was: price, number of seats, number of luggage, special features. In addition to these, analytics played an important role in defining the new categories, selecting the ones with the highest results to be kept while incorporating the low performers into top performers.

By doing this I presumed that we eliminate an unnecessary step in the booking process. As such, users will see all categories at a glance and will not have to spend time struggling to find a specific category that can bring them closer to their desired car.


What I Did

  • Problem definition. The first step of my process is to identify the underlying problem and to reduce it to something that addresses a critical human need. The core issue is that users are required to analyse a large set of content and exclude any results that don’t meet their criteria. If the users can’t interact properly with the tool and don't have sufficient visibility and ease of browsing, then they will get frustrated and confused and will abandon their activity.
  • Observation. Next, my process continues with observing and identifying the users who will use the filter. I get input from multiple stakeholders including the Product Owner. The next step is to synthetize the ideas for new categories and come up with a list of "finalists". However I have to never lose sight that the user need is at the center of the problem.
    At this step I look in analytics and verify if there have been any other similar experiments to identify possible outcomes that can impact the current task. Additionally, I performed a competitors analysis to identify how they are labelling and grouping their categories.
    I get input from multiple stakeholders including the Product Owner and incorporate the relevant ideas to find the appropriate solutions. What I have to always keep in mind is that the user need is at the center of the problem and that is what needs to be addressed in an efficient matter.
  • Ideation. The last step is brainstorming. This is done based on what I found during the previous two steps: problem definition and observation.
    I collaborated with the Product Owner and the Copyrighter to uncover possible insights. This leads to transforming concepts into features that address customer behaviours. This means that the label categories have been designed to provide a high level of familiarity to the user and address the human need of orderliness and succinct yet relevant information. During this step I also produced mockups and wireframes to illustrate the ideas.
  • Prototyping. I developed a hi-fi prototype after receiving feedback on the draft versions. Additionally I also integrated HTML code.

Deliverables

  • Mockups, wireframes;
  • Hi-fi prototypes and HTML code. Please see bellow a deliverable example.

Results & Business Impact

Based on analytics, I concluded that users interact better now with the car category filter on search results. All categories are easily available and users don’t spend as much time as previously to find a specific car.

  • After being A/B tested with users it became a gold experiment and is fully on now, increasing conversion with approx. 10%;
  • Improved effectiveness as users interact more often with the filter;
  • This version of filters performed better than previous with users in terms of CTR (Clicks Through Rate) as the car categories which the user had to scroll for had an increase in bookings.

The Brief

On search results the cars are listed as list view. One reason for experimenting with this design is that a lot of the competitors have grid view integrated in their search results. This alternative to the standard list view helps users compare car prices faster as it is more easy for the eye to follow.

The second reason for experimenting with this is that when browsing via list view, users’ attention begins to drop as they browse down the page. When using grid view, the information is shortened to prevent too much text wrapping. This leads to a more even distribution of the users’ attention. 

By implementing grid view on search results I presumed that the booking process will be faster.


What I did

  • Problem definition. Users need to be able to find whatever they need in as little amount of time as possible. List view displays content in a single column list. It’s also text heavy. At most, list view can display small icons or thumbnails next to the text. Users rely on reading too much text to make their selection.
    On the other hand, grid view displays content in two or more columns with pricing dominating most of the space. Users rely on quick scanning to make their selection.
  • Observation. My process continues with observing and identifying the users who will use the grid view. I found out what car types and what suppliers are most used according to analytics, in order to determine their order in the grid view. This was doubled by a competitive analysis of the way Rentalcars competitors are displaying their grid views.
  • Ideation. I generated a broad set of ideas based on what I found during the previous two steps: observation and problem definition. Sketching out ideas to share in daily and weekly Scrum meetings and communicated them to the Product Owner.
  • Prototyping. I developed a hi-fi prototype after receiving feedback on the draft versions. Additionally I also integrated HTML code.

Deliverables

  • Mockups, wireframes;
  • Hi-fi prototypes.

Results & Business Impact

Based on analytics, I concluded that users don’t interact too much with grid view for displaying cars on search results. Grid view forces users to scroll horizontally which doesn’t come naturally to most users. The user needs an overview of the entire information in order to choose between cars. In this context the list view follows a more natural reading pattern, the “F-shaped”, which suits better this type of content.

  • After being A/B tested with users it became an unsuccessful experiment, clickthrough rates were half than on list views;
  • List view outperformed grid view also on conversion rate, which were less than 1%.

The Brief

The objective of the experiment was to add five-star ratings to the search results.

When customers give rating on certain items, it is generally recommended to simplify the process so that other users can intuitively know what the objective is. The users want to reward good content and punish bad content. They want to express their opinion and feel that their opinion is being taken into consideration.

The user is emotionally attached to the five-star rating system which is a simple way to capture the entire sentiment: very bad, bad, neutral, good, very good. Its simplicity will make the user observe better and set expectations about a specific supplier. Also it will make the act of rating fun/game-like, as such for a period of time the act of rating is inherently worthwhile.


What I Did

  • Problem definition. I identified the problem: the website doesn’t get enough engagement with the rating system. This is because users have a certain mental budget they will invest in rating suppliers. The more work they do for each decision, the fewer decisions they will make. Another consideration is that customers only give feedback if they are motivated to do so. With the previous rating system, the organisation only ranked suppliers without having any visual clues.
  • Observation. My process continues with observing analytics and identifying the users who will be using the solution. I found out how users interact with the ratings. From user testing insights I understood how users perceive five-star ratings.
    A five or close to five star rating, leads to a higher number of bookings. However, this must come correlated with multiple user reviews. Otherwise the high ratings do not have a significant booking impact on conversion rates. When the user has to make a decision between two cars with equal rates, users are more likely to book a car with slightly better reviews. Also, if the care has a higher rate, the users will still book the car with the better reviews than the one with the better rating.
  • Ideation. Brainstorming ideas based on what I found during the previous two steps: observation and problem definition. I made several possible visualisations of star ratings with rating accompanied by color change of the stars themselves - gold, silver and bronze are straight forward. 
  • Prototyping. I developed several prototype versions of the accepted ideas and also integrated HTML

Deliverables

  • Mockups, wireframes;
  • Hi-fi prototypes.

Results & Business Impact

The experiment is currently fully implemented. Next step is to add the five-star rating to all the pages in the funnel.

  • After being A/B tested with users become a successful experiment with a high clickthrough rate;
  • Star rating outperformed previous non-star version on conversion rate with more than 15%.

The Brief

Adding suppliers' logos to the search results filter in order to contribute to the user experience as a whole. This should give users more control over their filtering options. Also it would improve the experience of choosing a supplier by introducing a visual aid. The objective was to reduce friction and to have booking interactions without complications.


What I Did

  • Problem definition. The users didn't engage enough with the supplier filter and could not find quickly enough the specific supplier they are looking for.
  • Observation. My process continues with observing analytics and identifying the users who will be using the solution. I found out how users interact with the suppliers filter based on analytics results. Additionally, using user testing results, I have collected insights concerning usage of the supplier filter. Users have two options: "reading the text" or looking at the logos. The supplier logo is still the primary actor. It allows for much better brand recall. Also it reduces the time when customers are trying to find a specific supplier. As such, viewing the logos makes use of the users "scanning" through ability which is quicker than "reading” full texts.
  • Ideation. Brainstorming ideas based on what I found during the previous two steps: observation and problem definition. I made several possible visualisations of the supplier filter accompanied by their respective logos.
  • Prototyping. I developed several prototype versions of the accepted ideas and also integrated HTML.

Deliverables

  • Mockups, wireframes;
  • Hi-fi prototypes.

Results & Business Impact

The experiment is currently fully implemented. The next step is to add a number of available cars for each supplier.

  • Important business metrics: after being A/B tested with users, it became a successful experiment with higher click through rate;
  • The supplier filter with logos outperforms the previous non-logos version on conversion rate with more than 10%.

Animations


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Costelus

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Ceausescu

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Pamela

1. Costelus

2. Ceausescu

3. Pamela

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