My Role

This was the first project I was involved with at Disney. I collaborated with one other designer on the post-booking email series, prototypes and presentations. She was already a few rounds of designs in when I started.

I spearheaded the flexible, scaleable design system approach, developed the reusable parts, and lay foundations to roll out across all Disney Parks & Resorts brands for Guest facing, Travel Agents and Internal Communications.

We partnered with Product Managers both locally and on on the West Coast, Disney’s in-house creative shop and a Neuromarketing Research Agency in San Francisco.

The Challenge

This was my first project at Disney. When I started, the scope was to redesign a series of post-booking emails for Disneyland Resort. A few rounds of designs had already been completed. The emails had varied content but needed to look like a series. The team were modifying existing email templates, focusing on the one-off designs needed for this particular Guest experience.

The Bigger Challenge

Disney’s in-house creative shop had created email templates to achieve a better sense of brand across the business. Many took the design system as single templates. They were seeing a lot of the exact same designs and things went from simple to messy. How could we develop a system that really was used as a system? A system that was easy to use. How could we educate, encourage adoption and challenge the existing process.

Email Key Goals

  • Quickly drive traffic to the website.
  • Short and simple – the average time spent looking at an email is only 15 seconds.
  • Keep it visual and aesthetically pleasing, while keeping a consistent style.
  • Email should feel like the same family as the website and brand.
  • Make it fun to receive. After all… we are Disney and our brand message is happiness.
  • Go back to the core. Beginning. Main purpose. Start fresh.

Back to Basics

I saw a need to shift gears. Instead of one-off designs, I focused on building a flexible, scaleable design system that had reusable parts that met the needs of the post-booking project. I spearheaded this approach, developed the system, and lay the foundations to roll out the new approach across all Disney Parks & Resorts brands for Guest facing, Travel Agents and Internal Communications.

One Primary Message

The existing emails often had multi-messages screaming for the Guest’s attention. Part of the new system was a set of rules. I created a Style Guide which encouraged the use of Primary Content Blocks to concisely express the main message. For bigger stories, there was the flexibility to add Secondary Content Blocks. The guide communicated the rules through use of diagrams, dos and don’ts, specs and examples.

Flexible Content Blocks

It was important not to limit creativity. Content Blocks were designed so they could be used for any email. I avoided predetermining the content each block should be used for to ensure reusability. It was evident that this wasn’t a design-and-done. I would need to extend Content Block library as new needs surfaced. For now, however, we had enough to get started.

Shareable Specs

As part of my process I considered how the designs would translate between Mobile and Desktop. I also defined character counts and gave each module a simple name for reference.


By adhering to the rules, all emails could maintain a similar look. Since there was no specific content assigned to the content blocks, they could be themed to use with any brand. I showed in my documentation how we could do this.

The Johnson Family Reservation

Dec 20, 2016 – Dec 24, 2016
Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa
Downtown Disney View Room
2 Adults, 2 Children
3-Day Park Hopper Tickets

Post-Booking Countdown

Considering Content

Design System + Content

We worked with Content Strategy to create an example communication strategy. With the foundations of an Email Design System in place, it was a smooth process creating high-fidelity emails. The system eliminated a lot of visual design back and forth that we usually find with other projects.

Expanding the Design System

This process of creating the post-booking email series put the Design System to the test. We found that we needed to add additional Content Blocks to meaningfully display important primary information.

Neuromarketing Research Study

Two studies were conducted; in Los Angeles and San Francisco, with a total of 25 Guests participating. I collaborated with another designer to create responsive HTML prototypes. Blue Kite conducted the study while Disney Design and Product teams observed.

Study Goals

  • Observe real Disneyland Guest responses to new creative for post-booking communications
  • Emotional engagement with the materials
  • Motivation to take the intended actions
  • Compare results between SoCal and NoCal, intenders and repeaters
  • Observations and insights

Research Methods

  • Task Observation: how long, which links
  • Eye Tracking: visual attention, gaze and fixation data
  • Facial Action Coding System: emotional responses
  • Pre- and Post- test interviews, probing questions

Findings & How We Iterated

  • Guests responded favorably to clear, consistent links
  • Not all Guests knew that text was clickable.
  • Include more breadth of examples in the Dining email
  • Identify opportunities to provide more information about Resort Hotel details
  • Recent repeaters are looking for what’s new or novel
  • Intenders like more grounding and direction

After testing, we refined our CTA strategy so that it was more consistent and obvious. Outlined buttons were changed to solid, and buttons were added to all clickable modules as the images did not provide sufficient affordance.

We defined different strategies for repeaters and intenders, and we stopped being shy about including more content (as long as it was relevant and helpful for the Guest).

Drag-and-Drop with LiveCanvas

I provided spec documents so the new content blocks and rules could be implemented with the drag-and-drop platform, LiveCanvas. This tool would allow Marketing to create their own emails with minimal help from design.

Development Process

I worked closely with developers to ensure the design was implemented as intended.

Encouraging Adoption

Since this project had involved multiple business sectors from the get-go, we were off to a good start. In addition to our Creative Campus in Glendale; we shared the Design System with teams in Anaheim, Seattle and Florida. A Roadshow Deck was perfected throughout the course of the project and we jumped at opportunities to present to teams embarking on new email projects.

It’s Got Legs

Since this project, I’ve had oversight to the majority of email projects which have touched our team. Through doing so I’ve kept a close eye on standards and have actively updated the modules as required. Teams external to us have needed little hand holding and due to the nature of the tools and reference material.

From Park Tickets, to Resort Confirmations, to Internal Emails; today this Email System is helping to save time and drive consistency across the brand.

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