Full Sail University

Margaret Haag: Product Design Manager for Capital One’s CreditWise App

We spoke to the 2009 Digital Arts and Design grad about embracing what's good in product design to help people monitor their credit, and making time to recharge with fun side projects.

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The life of a product designer isn’t always simple — especially when you’re designing a product centered around the leading cause of stress among Americans. As Product Design Manager for Capital One’s CreditWise credit tracking app, Digital Art & Design grad Margaret Haag uses clever design choices to try to alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding credit scores.

“Design makes everything possible,” says Margaret. “Without good design, our lives would be a lot messier and more difficult. Designing for UX isn’t always glamorous, but it does give people tools to solve real problems. The product is a vehicle for people to get what they need, so how can I make that easier for them?”

The app is available for iOS and Android users regardless of whether they’re a Capital One customer. It contextualizes a person’s credit history using infographics — a graph shows users how their score has changed over time, while a score summary breaks down the number in relation to key factors like late or missed payments, amount of available credit, etc. It also features a handy simulator that helps users understand how different financial decisions might impact their score. This data is presented in an easy-to-use interface that’s easier to understand than a traditional credit report.

In this video excerpt, Margaret describes why she and her team made certain design choices when building the CreditWise app.

After high school, Margaret studied journalism. She landed a job copywriting, and while working there, she heard about Full Sail. After doing a bit of research she decided to leave her life in rural Pennsylvania and head to Florida to study design.

“I’ve never really been fearful of change,” she recalls. “At that time in my life, I was working at a place with gray walls. There was no color in my professional life. So within six months, I packed up and moved 900 miles away to start the journey.”

It wasn’t an easy transition. At 26, Margaret was a little older than most of her peers. She also didn’t have an extensive background knowledge of industry-standard design tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. She was keeping up, but she was also psyching herself out by comparing her work to that of her classmates.

In this video excerpt, Margaret describes a breakthrough she had during her time as a student.

The lesson Margaret learned during her time at Full Sail — to embrace what’s good over trying to be the best — has carried through her work as a product designer, as well as into her independent creative endeavors.

“I love what I do,” she says. “I love making pretty things. I get some of that satisfaction from my job, but in interface design, you never truly own the work. So when I’m feeling burnt out, I’ll design concept projects for fun, just as a form of escape.”

The projects she tackles in her free time serve two purposes: They keep her sharp and allow her to focus on subjects that mean a lot to her. One of her recent concept projects is a music lyric poster series, which feature lines from her favorite songs juxtaposed against design-forward backgrounds.

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As for advice to burgeoning product designers, Margaret suggests being open whatever makes you uncomfortable, whether it's new technology, creative discipline, or the possibility of growth through failure. In this video excerpt, she talks more about possibility of failing fast and failing often.

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