Packaging Design

Below are some of the steps I take to research and design packaging solutions.


The full expression of packaging

I believe a packaging design, to be successful, must cohesively meet five objectives, ranging from the concrete to the aesthetic. Protect is non-negotiable. Without protection, the package is a failure. The middle three - Support the brand, Draw attention and Inform - play very important supporting roles in the selling motion of the product. If absent or incongruous, confusion, brand dissatisfaction, claims of hypocrisy and a degradation of the product's value can occur. Lastly, Connect Emotionally, has the greatest influence on purchase validation, quality and brand perceptions, and the repurchase decision.

With all packaging I design, I aim to deliver on this full expression of packaging, optimizing on every layer of the hierarchy.


UX strategy

Typically, to build a UX strategy for use within a known consumer space, I work with:

  • Corporate - to understand overarching brand and strategies

  • GBU - to understand financial goals

  • Marketing - to understand product, price, placement and promotion strategies

  • Design - to understand design languages and product personalities in play in the existing and future portfolios

Then, I can build out a packaging strategy that maps up to these pillars. This is another method I practice to strengthen and justify my designs.


As Hewlett-Packard's sole packaging strategist sitting in the IWS Design team, responsible for the packaging strategy and design for $12B worth of ink, printer and paper products per year, I was charged by corporate with creating the 2010 packaging strategy for developed and emerging markets.

In order to develop an eco-strategy, I wanted to first know how "green" was defined by our consumers. I wanted to understand the motivators/incentives and infrastructure driving environmental practices in developed and emerging markets. I decided to create research that would unveil what I believe are the factors that contribute to human behavior:

  • instilled culture

  • physiological demands

  • macro and micro economics, such as government and business decisions and incentives

For several preceding months, I worked with an external India-based research team to coordinate in-home, in-store, and infrastructure i.e. garbage dumps and recycling facilities research in India, China and Singapore.

I asked individuals, families, retailers and city workers to define - verbally and by show-and-tell - environmental practices.

Here I am in a living room in India, asking the family about their environmental practices, if any. Faces intentionally masked.

The making of a UX strategy

2009 Case Study



User-centered Frameworks

After spending two weeks in India, China, and Singapore, I observed three key factors that intersect and significantly influence environmental behaviors in these countries: consumer needs and preferences, governmental environmental maturity, and business environmental policies.

I discovered that in the emerging markets, many individuals were not familiar with terms like environmental, eco, green, or sustainable. They admitted to not actively practicing environmental consciousness, but upon further investigation, I found that the majority of them were actually engaging in recycling activities to either save or make money. Since their motivation was primarily financial gain, these participants did not perceive their actions as being done "for the environment". This insight highlights the complex relationship between economic incentives and environmental practices in these regions.

In part to drive empathy, I built out these frameworks explaining our consumers' current environment and beliefs. This led to a country-based environmental packaging strategy that the teams could understand and relate to.

To foster empathy, I developed comprehensive frameworks that delve into our consumers' present circumstances and beliefs. I also formulated a country-specific environmental packaging strategy. Through an in-depth understanding of the local context, we tailored our packaging solutions to address relevant environmental issues and cater to the specific mindset of each country. This strategy not only facilitates comprehension but also cultivates a sense of shared purpose among our teams, who can now genuinely relate to the packaging initiatives we undertake.


Saved $8M/year in printing process

From my weekly check-ins with Foxconn, HP's printer manufacturer, I learned that a high-end (HE) flexographic printing press was now available in China. HP had used lithographic printing due to availability of lithographic presses throughout China. Lithography was also believed to be higher quality than flexography.

I decided to assess the technical and financial feasibility of changing HP's print process to flexography.

First, to understand differences in print quality, I went to Best Buy and looked for high end products printed in flexo. They did exist. I next asked Foxconn for a pallet of product printed in both print processes. Thirdly, I requested specs for both types of presses. What were the strengths and weaknesses of each press?

From these 3 assessments, I learned that Flexo does not do shadows or gradations well. Litho was the gold standard for packaging print, albeit more expensive than litho. I found a graphic designer who would help create box designs that were true to the current design language, but played to flexo's strength.


HP's branding and marketing departments deemed the new design language adequate for the DeskJet (lower-end) line. The switch to HE flexo print was estimated to save the ICS GBU $8million per year and is still in use today.

Litho printed box on top; HE flexo with poor prints of gradations on bottom.

A printer box design optimized for HE flexography.

2012 Case Study


Improved printer purchase UX

Printer aisles were confusing. Shoppers often left the aisle empty-handed and confused. In 2010, HP printers were black and sold in black boxes. UX issues with this packaging design were:

  1. Low contrast between printer image and background - difficult to understand the on-box communication

  2. No relatable or scenario context - is this printer for an office? For scrapbooking? Is it for me?

  3. No easy to understand feature set - shoppers could not easily discern specs


Working with a graphic designer, we prototyped new printable solutions. I hand-sketched my solutions and the graphic designer made it look realistic:

  1. Increased contrast between printer and background

  2. Increased lighting highlights on printer image to reveal hardware details

  3. Added human images in scenarios to communicate the printer's use case

  4. Added "feature ring" on front of box and on the side of box so that the infographic would be visible regardless of shelving positioning

  5. The infographic is positioned in the same relative area on every printer box to make printer-to-printer comparing easier

  6. The infographic worked as a binary communicator. If the icon color was lightly tinted, the feature was not present. If the icon color was at full opacity, the feature was present.

A black printer sold in a black box


Premium packaging

As part of Dexcom's UX strategy, we wanted this Class III medical device to NOT look or feel like a medical device. My goal was to make this OOBE (out of box experience) to feel like one was opening a high-end gift from a close friend.

My tactics to elevate the packaging experience:

  1. Build anticipation by slowly unveiling product

  2. Place product on symbolic pedestal

  3. Careful placement of each component

  4. Removal of "ugly" inbox paperwork that screams medical device (install instructions printed on box, also saving $$)

I drew this sketch in able to better communicate with my external packaging vendor, MeadWestVaco.

Results of my technical assessment with my vendor. They could produce this design at a higher than desired cost. Also, there was concern of a "too-high" suction force caused by the outer sleeve.

Final design with tested and approved printed IFU. Reorientation of design was done to reduce suction force caused by vertical sleeve.


Tempo Handkerchief

By balancing a diverse set of international criteria, I set the adhesive specification, tab size, and shape for Tempo Handkerchief packages around the world. Criteria I researched and considered:

  • finger anthropomorphics

  • environmental use conditions (dry & dusty)

  • shipping conditions (humid, high tropical temperatures)

  • contextual constraints (holding baby with one hand makes opening a one-handed operation)

  • manufacturing processes

Additionally, I invented and developed the Tempo Car Visor Handkerchief package by designing market research program and interpreting all research data, developing manufacturing line specifications, and instructional package artwork. This package was used in a national launch in a co-sponsored promotion with General Motors.


Out of Box Experience (OOBE)

To align the organization on an a step-by-step experience, storyboards like these are my go-to. They communicate the issues or solutions in 1-slide and do well even without a presenter present (they're self-explanatory) and are wonderful for driving empathy.


CD-Rom packaging + applicator combo

HP developed printable adhesive labels for CDs/DVDs. As the project’s packaging engineer, I could have placed the contents in a paperboard box and add a plastic part used to center the label on the CD - this is what the competition did. However, I wanted to eliminate the need for an extra part as well as shipping excessive air per unit. I invented a concept that combined the primary packaging + centering tool into one, reducing BOM and shipping costs.

Other Reasons to Hire Me