CASE STUDY Starbucks

Designing an enterprise product for store managers at Starbucks

Project Background

Starbucks store managers often work their way up from barista to shift supervisor, to assistant store manager and eventually run their own store. They live and breathe the Starbucks brand, but it's not always enough to run a high performing store.

Only the top 10% know what tool or method to use in order to get a full picture of their store and solve operational gaps in the moment. They have to navigate paper-based solutions, manual workarounds, and find critical information spread across 14+ different systems every day. This disjointed workflow is a huge time suck, taking away from value-add activities with their team and customers.


User Interface Design, Prototyping, Design Systems


User Research, Workflows, Product Strategy


6 months (Contract)


Starbucks HQ, Seattle WA

"Allison demonstrated a real passion for the craft of design; bringing empathy, problem-solving and creativity to every project she worked on."

– Matthew Godfrey, Head of Product Design at Redgate

Product strategy

The product will launch on shared store devices and on the manager’s laptop. It surfaces relevant information from over 14+ systems and provides actionable guidance to run their store that day. It will centralize disparate tools but also replace paper and manual workarounds.

User research

I spent time early on visiting Starbucks stores to observe, ask questions, and gain some understanding around the problems we were trying to solve. It was an opportunity to see firsthand the manual processes and workarounds they’ve created. (Bonus: I also learned how to make a proper flat white). This early observation influenced my design in both small meaningful ways and also bigger strategic decisions.

"Allison is the difference between a good product, and a great one."

– Jonathan Roberts, Tech Lead at Redgate

A guiding principle

The product's intention is to free up more time so managers can spend it with customers and the team in the front of the store rather than in the back office. A guiding principle for the user's experience was that everything in the product should be actionable within 3 taps/clicks or less or it doesn't belong there.

When introducing a new enterprise product that sits on top of so many existing systems, there needed to be clarity and intention around what was and wasn't there, and why – for the end user and other product teams. This principle influenced an internal standard for how user's would dive deeper for more context and perform more complex tasks inside the specific system.

Product flows

I began my design process by white boarding user flows to start identifying a few things:

  • Key views that needed to be designed and prototyped
  • Interactions to support the '3 taps or less' rule
  • Dependencies on data from other systems
  • Alignment between organizations & stakeholders

Design process

I sketched out initial ideas and opportunities in early design sessions and presented them to product owners, engineers, and peer designers. These early concepts and low-fidelity wireframes executed on over a short timeframe enabled business stakeholders across the organization to align on product vision and secure funding for the project.

I moved forward with a design that:

  • Adhered to Starbucks brand standards
  • Accounted for many different users types and systems
  • Prioritized store devices as the critical experience

Over the course of my 6 month contract, the product went from a concept with a list of systems to a high fidelity interactive prototype ready to test with users and a functional MVP.

Since this product touched so many different systems and devices, I created and documented new design patterns and components to be folded into the Starbucks design system.