Salmon for Honda R&D

collaborationTeam of 5
RoleDesign Lead
ClientHonda R&D
Duration7 months
00. Overview

Salmon is a collaborative research synthesis tool for blooming user researchers.

  • This project was a part of MHCI Capstone project, where a team of MHCI students work with a client to design a solution from a broad, conceptual idea.
  • My team worked with Honda R&D Americas to boost Honda's efforts to embrace Design Thinking and facilitate innovation.


  • The student user researchers Honda is sponsoring have to juggle a lot of tools (both online and offline), and the handoff process was fragmented.
  • Honda wanted to see credibility, and students often struggled to go back to the data and find the right evidence.


  • Salmon: a holistic user research tool for blooming user researchers.
  • Researchers can see the context and the demographics of the qualitative data.
  • Researchers can easily synthesize research by drag and drop, and make report drafts by drag and drop.
Adding evidence from interview transcript
Interaction for clustering evidence
01. Users & stakeholders

Honda sponsors OnRamp students to conduct customer research and find unmet customer needs.

Primary stakeholder

  • Our client, Honda R&D Americas, wants to be the leader in innovation and drive the future of mobility.
  • Various organizations at Honda are facilitating Design Thinking and partnering up with universities and startups.
  • One of the partnership programs is OnRamp.

Primary users

  • Our core use cases are for OnRamp students.
  • OnRamp is an innovation idea accelerator driven by students at the Ohio State University.
  • OnRamp students conduct extensive customer research, find the underlying customer needs and pitch to the clients.
02. Problem

Honda has been sponsoring Onramp for several years, but hasn't been able to utilize the students' findings yet.

We dived deep into why this was happening. Honda wanted to see credibility. The instructor wanted deep insights. Students were juggling many different tools.

Honda (Sponsor company)
  • wants to know if the students' research is credible.
  • wants actionable outcome and the business value.
  • wants to know the quantitative value of the data.
OnRamp Instructor
  • wants to help students find deep insights.
  • wants to help students see the patterns in the interview results and find the unmet customer needs.
OnRamp Students
  • The research process was fragmented; students switched between Otter, handwritten notes, Notes app, and physical and digital whiteboards.
  • The handoff process was fragmented. After the project has been handed off, it was hard for the new team to access the data or see why they came to the conclusion.
03. Product Positioning

Finding the opportunity

  • We mapped out the steps our users take and the tasks that they do each step. After extensive interview and secondary research, we mapped out the area that has the most friction and ambiguity.
  • We then conducted extensive competitive analysis to find the need that is not being met by existing tools.

Competitive analysis

I produced the competitive analysis artifacts with the analysis I did with my teammate Michael.

04. Process

Building, testing, narrowing, and building again

Observing OnRamp classes
Observing how OnRamp students and other human-centered design students synthesize qualitative data
Parallel prototyping with teammates to generate ideas
Need validation with OnRamp instructor
I mapped out the wireframes by user journey and tasks.
05. Solution

A collaborative tool for budding user researchers to organize and synthesize qualitative research.

Find evidence from research

  • Add "evidence" from interview transcripts, videos, documents, and various forms of research.
  • Add the data to the evidence panel and assign tags.

Spawn insights by clustering

  • Drag and drop the evidence to the synthesis board.
  • Generate insights by clustering the evidence together.


The synthesis board keeps the immersive and freeform nature of whiteboard clustering, but removes the hassle of migrating the data into the whiteboard.

See the context and demographics of the data while clustering

  • Click on the evidence to see the context to see if there was a leading question.
  • See the participant demographics to recall who the interviewee was.

  • Easily go back to the source of data.
  • Collaboration is key in user research. Student researchers can discuss the piece of evidence with the teammates by adding comments.

Insight overview

click on the cluster to see the number of unique participants and demographics of the participants.


Quantitative aspects of the research is key to demonstrating credibility.

  • Researchers can identify the possible bias in the data.
  • Researchers can generate more accurate insights by associating the insights with a more specific group.

Generate deliverable draft

  • Writing reports and slides is a core part of user researchers' workflow.
  • With Salmon, resaearchers can simply drag and drop the insights from the affinity diagrams to generate drafts for the deliverables.
  • Researchers can export the drafts into presentation tools and documentation tools they prefer.
Generate reports
Generate slides

Keep everything in one place

  • I designed the dashboard that keeps all the transcripts, boards and deliverables accessible and organized.
  • Researchers don't have to jump around different tools (Otter, Mural/Miro, Powerpoint) to work on a single project.
06. Prototyping

Play with our prototypes!

Figma prototype

I took ownership of consolidating the designs, fleshing out the interaction detail, and building the high-fidelity Figma prototype.

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React prototype

My teammates Caitlin and Matt built the interactive and testable prototype of our synthesis board, the core part of our product. I fixed some of the CSS to make sure the design details are in line with the design specs.

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07. branding

Giving our product a name and identity

So, why "Salmon"?

  • We chose my idea "Salmon" for our product name!
  • Salmons find their way back to where they were born to lay eggs, like how our product lets users to go back to the source of the data.
  • We aim to provide an intuitive journey as Salmons instinctively know where to go to find where they came from.

Logo & visual identity

  • I designed the logo and visual identity for our product.
  • I also made a styleguide for the team to get our product and deliverables visually aligned.
08. Response

Salmon received great amount of love from students, professionals, and our clients.

Our client wants to use all of our deliverables at Honda R&D Americas and as well as other Honda offices around the world.

OnRamp & Design students

It makes the unpleasant part of honing and documenting and organizing aggregating data a lot easier.

Previous OnRamp student

Can you guys have this made before I start working on our final report for this class?

Human-centered Design Student, aspiring User Researcher

The flow of this makes a lot of sense to me. It's rock solid. You guys did an amazing job.

OnRamp instructor

Clients & Industry professionals

I think this is going to be very useful. I really want to test it. I want it in my hands.

Client, Associate Director at Innovation Lab

We would love to have something like this. I would give my arm for this.

Experience Design Manager at a Design Thinking training firm

09. Reflection

Designing Design Thinking by Design Thinking

Started from ambiguity now we here

One of the biggest takeaways from this project was gaining experience in swimming through ambiguity to make something valuable.

Design Thinking is my passion

Through this project, I learned Design Thinking methodologies inside out from experienced user researchers and design thinking facilitators.

Research by design, design by research

I was able to practice involving users and stakeholders every step of the way and having a strong backbone for every design decision.

We're proud of what we made!

Salmon received a lot of love and positive reactions, and we're proud that we ideated and designed something that is deeply needed by students and professionals.

Team & Roles
Haley ParkDesign lead
Caitlin CoyiutoTech lead
Matt FranklinProject manager
Margot HendersonUX Research & Design
Michael SilvestreUX Research & Design