VacationCandy is a luxury timeshare rental marketplace.

I was the sole designer and first hire at VacationCandy.  In addition to building the product, we also had to struggle through building a company as first time founders. I contributed to the development as well as to my regular responsibilities as a designer.

I have continued to help VacationCandy with design as recently as 2016.

Role:
Designer
Time:
2011-2014
Website:
vacationcandy.com

Responsibilities:

Strategy, UX Design, Visual Design, Development, Branding, Email Design
Find luxury vacations at deeply discounted prices. VacationCandy is a two-sided marketplace that matches timeshare owners looking to rent out their allocated week to people looking for a nice vacation. Timeshare owners get money from their rental and guests get a great vacation deal.
Evolution of the resort page 2011-2015

Case studies typically go through the thought process of building products, but my thought process at the beginning of my career was different than it is now. I do not want to sell myself on that. However, I think the story is interesting. 

VacationCandy is the origin of my product design career. Prior to it, I had mostly worked with small companies setting up what I call brochure-style websites. There were no interactive elements and they were mostly marketing websites. It was spring 2011 and I was in graduate school for Urban Design when a good friend contacted me about the beginnings of what would be VacationCandy.

They brought me on at an extremely cheap, but welcomed price. VacationCandy was, and still is, a bootstrapped company so half of my allure was that I wasn't expensive. The second half was that I was the closest thing to technologist the founders knew.

Personal growth is company growth

We started as three 20-somethings who wanted to start a travel company with little experience building products or running companies. We hired inexperienced CS students (a mistake), then interns (more mistakes), then cheap devs (continued mistakes). Eventually we launched an MVP that was not scalable as soon as we launched. But it worked. We built a product that a few people trusted enough to actually add their credit card information with thousands of dollars on the line. 3 months after launching, and 6 months after starting work, we were profitable.

The better we got at building products, the better the company did. We brought on more staff, mostly customer service who helped bridged the gap of the product and the business. It's not a stretch to say that this early team is family. 

The Trough of Disillusionment

After we realized the MVP didn't work going forward, we set on the path of rebuilding the site. Both design and development started anew. This still remains the hardest thing I've done in my career. It was delayed months and there was a lot of frustration. But it was immensely impactful on both the product and how I think about building products. But we got through it, launched it (including a lot of backend code I wrote). And it was successful. We significantly increased revenue and took the company into a new gear. 

I have never learned so much in such a concentrated period of time. It was this second launch where I became product designer.

New Things

Not unlike that desire to leave your hometown, I started to feel compelled to learn what else was out there, to see what more was to be learned. I convinced a startup in the Bay Area that I was a good enough designer. So after nearly three years at VacationCandy, I jumped shipped and moved to the Bay Area. I still work with VacationCandy occasionally for periodical design help. I can still say that the designs of their current website is still what I've designed. I'm proud see the company doing well and the designs serving them well for all this time.

Other Projects
Writing