Lessons from Hong Kong

A piece I wrote based on my experience living in my hometown, Hong Kong, for a month after being away in America for years.


I grew up in Hong Kong and have since moved to America during my last year of high school. After spending half of my life in America, I’ve realized it has made me very US-centric when it comes to designing for our customers.

But after spending a month in Hong Kong, where I grew up, it has reminded me to always think about our customers at a global level especially when our product serves customers from many countries other than the U.S..

Below are a few main lessons and insights that I learned from my recent trip:

Websites are not a standard

When I search for businesses in Hong Kong, I find that most places don’t have a website. They rely heavily on local listing sites like OpenRice (Yelp equivalent) and Google Map listings. They also don’t have the most updated or correct information. I see this as a HUGE…

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What’s Your Freedom?

I wrote about how freedom is embedded within Automattic, where I work. Would love you to share what freedom is to you.


“We don’t make software for free, we make it for freedom.”

The idea of freedom rings true to Automattic’s roots. Our CEO, Matt Mullenweg, blogged about the four software freedoms back in 2014. In fact, this concept of freedom is so important you’ve probably spotted it on our homepage.

We’ve been exploring how the concept of freedom can connect our product with customers through marketing. So you can say, I have freedom on my mind!

In the process of researching the concept, we have found freedom as an universal idea that has transpired in many forms of expressions – books, poems, and songs:

Freedom by George Michael:

Redemption Song (Songs for Freedom) by Bob Marley:

Freedom by Pharrell Williams:

This is all very relevant to Automattic’s mission of democratizing publishing. Everyone is free to communicate and express themselves using our software. But as we evolve, what other…

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Creative Campaign for Detroit Small Businesses

Wrote a piece on my experience working on the WordPress.com Detroit small businesses campaign. Enjoy!


WordPress.com has recently launched our very first TV commercials – telling the stories of small businesses in Detroit. The spots document our journey during the Detroit Hackathon we’ve held with Rebrand Cities to partner with local small businesses to work on their websites. It was an invaluable opportunity for the Automattic team to learn about their daily challenges and successes.

We had the opportunity to collaborate with our filmmaking partners, Culture of Creativity (C8), and produce a series of videos for broadcast and digital mediums. You can read more about them in our recent interview on design.blog.

Watch Kay’s story (:30)

With a condensed timeline, an all remote team and an external partner, communication was key. Both parties kept in close contact via our P2-themed blog, and the occasional Zoom calls, which made the whole creative development process transparent and easily searchable. It also allowed our global team…

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First time in London

I had the special opportunity to visit London for the first time for an Automattic European designer meetup. I had such a great time meeting most of them in person for the very first time. It was three full days of intense workshop sessions after another but it was well worth it.

Much appreciation to John Maeda + A8C crew for the great time.

I also had the chance to walk around London a bit to experience the city. The Tate Modern was a highlight for me. It’s hard to believe a museum of this scale and quality would run a freemium model. (Obviously you have to pay for the special exhibitions.)

I must go back to London with the family soon!

First blog post as an Automattician

This is my first blog post since joining Automattic Inc., the maker of WordPress. It’s been about 2 months since I joined the company, and it’s been a very fun ride indeed. It’s pretty meta blogging using WordPress.com, working at WordPress.com. 😉

Everybody who got hired works 3 weeks as customer support (Happiness Engineer, in Automattic speak). What an eye-opening experience it was! The first week I worked on email tickets, answering our users’ questions via email.

Then the second week got a bit more interesting. I was trained and started Live Chat with our users. This was my preferred method as you can real-time responses from them. I love that real-time connection as we worked to resolve issues together.

The experience has really taught me a lot about using our products, and more importantly, our users. It has helped me quite a lot thus far in my work as an marketing designer. I would recommend this practice for any product focused company. It definitely closes the gap between the product and its users.

Next Gen TV Viewing

I was reading about the new boxee tv box on the Verge and it really got me thinking. I think the boxee is a cool idea with the “Free TV” antenna and cloud DVR features. However, with the emergence of broadband, there is still yet a technological breakthrough in the TV viewing experience:

Sure, there are newer “smart TV’s” that are Internet connected with apps like Pandora and Netflix. There are second-screen experiences like IntoNow which uses your tablet or smartphones to check-in and connect with others. There’s the Apple tv which serves as an Apple ecosystem hub for your iTunes and iOS content. There’s Google TV and Roku that streams content with apps and connect the tv to the Internet. But doesn’t it all feel so clunky and not integrated?

I am a Time Warner Cable subscriber and certainly feel that things could be much improved. The DVR software that comes with it makes me feel like I’m still in the 90’s. The controls are clunky and irresponsive. The guide is nonintuitive and the typefaces are horrid. It looks like there are more updated software for TWC but it has yet to be available in my area.

I feel stuck because there are better options out there like the Tivo and DirecTv but then it’ll cost some additional premium.

With all that said, I think we’re still living in a world where the TV viewing experience is still in a old school era and that things could be much easier.

I understand that there are many complications involved in the hardware/software/cable companies/media content providers equation. But at the end, wouldn’t a better product and experience equal to more customers equal to more profits?

I dream that one day watching TV would be as easy as telling Siri “show me the latest episode of Parks and Rec”, or when I see a funny clip on YouTube, or got a good recommendation from a friend, I could watch the whole episode on whatever device I have with my existing cable subscription.

Sorry for the little rant… 😉 I just had that urge from using the TWC DVR…

p.s. I’ve been trying to rethink the TV guide experience and design, maybe sometime I will share some of them in the blog.