Yoon (Dong Yoon Park, 박동윤) is a designer, creative technologist, and author from Seoul, Korea. As a Principal UX Designer at Microsoft’s HoloLens & Mixed Reality design team, he is leading the design effort for the open-source project Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK), focusing on the developer & creator ecosystem experience. Listed on Next Reality’s ’30 People To Watch In Augmented Reality 2019
Yoon became interested in computer graphics with painting software Dr.Halo and Deluxe Paint, during the era of XT computers. His curiosity about computer graphics inspired him to study electrical engineering at Korea University. He started working in the web industry in 1999 with dot-com startups and the internet boom.
After completing military service at R.O.K Army and receiving a bachelor of engineering degree from Korea University, he had worked at Samsung Electronics as a software research engineer, in the Telecommunication R&D Center, focusing on the user interface for GSM/WCDMA and experimental mobile phones. Collaboration with the design team on various GUI projects and his previous experience in web design fueled his desire to become a designer.
He went back to design school, studied graphic design at SADI (Samsung Art & Design Institute), and continued his study at Parsons The New School for Design, in the MFA Design & Technology program. His MFA thesis project ‘Typography Insight’ (http://typeinsight.org/) was featured by Fast Company, The Atlantic, Gizmodo, and ranked 2nd in the education category of the US App Store. With his interest in mobile app design and development, he wrote the book ‘도전! 아이폰 프로프래밍 (iCan iPhone Programming)’ which became a best-selling iPhone programming book in 2011-2012 in Korea.
He joined Microsoft as a UX Designer in 2011. He worked on MSN/Bing apps – News, Sports, Finance, Weather, Travel, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink – for various platforms including Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS, Android, Web, and Windows 10. As the lead designer of the Sports and Finance app, he led the design vision for Microsoft’s modern ‘Metro’ design language. Since 2015, he has been working on the ‘Developer Experience’ design, leveraging his mixed background in user experience design and software development.
Since 2016, in the Mixed Reality design team for HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality, he has been leading the design effort for the ecosystem experience, including the open-source project Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK), Mixed Reality Design Labs (MRDL), Mixed Reality Academy, and Mixed Reality Dev Center.
He launched his first HoloLens app ‘Typography Insight for HoloLens in August 2016′. He continues his explorations on type in Mixed Reality and actively shares personal mixed reality project stories on his blog – Mixed Reality Now. As of 2022, as Principal Design Manager, he is leading the design language team for Microsoft Mesh which provides an immersive meeting and collaboration experience in Mixed Reality.
Story – My Journey From Engineer To Designer
An engineer who loved drawing, typography, and graphical user interface
I’ve always loved to draw. In particular, I was obsessed with drawing cartoon characters, buildings, and company logos, so my textbooks were always filled with Dragon Ball characters and sketches of IT company logos. At that time, I loved to draw the logos of companies such as Intel, AMD, and Silicon Graphics. I was fascinated by the geometric logo and the beautiful design of the typeface.
After a brief experience with Dr. Halo and Deluxe Paint with a 286 computer at a local computer shop, I was excited about the fact that I could draw with a computer. I was shocked at the 3D space that a computer creates for the first time through id software’s Doom, which I first experienced with a 386 computer at my cousin’s house. It was the moment when I decided that I wanted to study computer graphics.
My interest in design continued even after I majored in engineering, and while developing various web services at a dot-com startup venture, I paid more attention and effort to web design. When I was working as a software engineer at Samsung Electronics, even though the resolution of the mobile phone screen was tiny 176 × 220 pixels at the time, I enjoyed doing work related to graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that contained beautiful graphic elements and typefaces. I proactively worked on any GUI-related work such as various internal development tools within the team and the simulator of a new mobile phone model. Even though it was fun to work with software programming for products, I wanted to do visual work that is directly shown and used by users rather than the logic hidden inside the product.
Design school, Graphic design, and Mobile Apps
With my passion for visual design, I made a big decision to go back to school to study design. When I quit my job, I thought I won’t code again. However, I learned that technology could be a great tool to realize my design idea and vision. I saw how evolving technologies were starting to empower art & design in various areas.
I started learning Objective-C to create and share ideas with people around the world. Starting with a simple clock app HUE Clock, I have designed & developed various types of apps such as experimental Twitter client Twit Knoll and Type Clock.
During my master’s study at Parsons, I proposed, designed, and developed a brochure/lookbook app for the Parsons School of Design. With the support of the dean of Parsons, it became the official app of the Parsons School of Design.
Writing iPhone programming book to share my ‘Developer Experience’
After launching several apps, I wanted to share my ‘Developer Experience’ with the developer/creator community. Most of people focused on the UX for the iPhone’s success, however, I thought great DX(Developer eXperience) which created a huge app ecosystem was also a crucial part of its success. With my strong interest in editorial & information design, I wrote a book on iOS app design and development. In this process, I also did the editorial design using InDesign by myself. Unlike typical text-heavy programming books, I designed the book with a visually rich layout and practical example app projects. The book became the best-selling iOS programming book in 2011 (1st edition) and 2012 (2nd edition).
With my strong passion for typography, mobile app, and user experience, I have designed and developed Typography Insight as my MFA thesis project. I presented the project at AIGA/NY and it was featured by Fast Company, The Atlantic, and Gizmodo. It was ranked 2nd in the education category of the US App Store in 2011 and featured several times on iTunes App Store in various countries.
Continuing my journey as a designer at Microsoft
Designing Bing/MSN apps for Windows
Luckily enough, I was able to continue working on apps at Microsoft. I started working at Microsoft as the main designer for the Sports and Finance (Money) app (Bing AppEx App Experience Team). Both apps had a rich amount of data – stats, numbers, and images – to play with, it was almost like designing magazines. Fortunately, it was the moment when Microsoft’s new metro design language started to bloom. I enjoyed designing apps with fundamental graphic design elements – typography and grid.
As a designer with an engineer/developer background, I was able to convince development teams to allow our designers access to the code repository. This enabled us to achieve pixel-perfect designs by working directly on the front-end code. I enjoyed this process of working with engineering partners to solve problems and create great user experiences. This front-end fit & finish work by the design team was later shared with the group as a best practice of design-engineering collaboration, and after that, a job title called Design Integration was created and settled.
App design work as a UX designer started with Windows 8 and continued through Windows Phone 8, iOS, Android, Web, and Windows 10. In this process, through promotion to senior designer, my focus area gradually changed to horizontal roles such as Common UX, Framework, Design Consistency, and IA.
Continuing personal projects
I kept my interest in evolving platforms and continuously updated my apps. For Typography Insight, I have added support for the retina display and added new features such as Kerning practicing. With the announcement of the Adobe Creative Cloud SDK, I have integrated Adobe Typekit into Typography Insight. As a big fan of casual games, I have created several games based on inspirations from daily life.
Developer Experience Design – Synergy between my two different backgrounds in design and development
Windows Bridge for iOS
Windows Bridge for iOS is an open-source project by Microsoft which allows iOS developers to bring their apps to Windows using the existing Objective-C codebase. I realized that I am the target user of the project – an iOS developer who wants to bring apps to Windows. Since I have been experiencing the entire app design & development process, I thought this will be a great opportunity for me to leverage my experience both as a designer and developer. To contribute to this project, I joined the Developer Experience Design team in Windows and Devices Group.
From October 2015, I led the design effort for Windows Bridge for iOS. My focus on this project was how to translate the controls and patterns from iOS to Windows smoothly, to achieve the best Windows user experience.
Personally, I was able to bring my apps to Windows using this solution – Pori Fashion Show and Typography Insight. Both apps were successfully translated into Universal Windows Platform apps, running on Windows 10 devices. They were demonstrated at Microsoft’s Build 2016 Developer Conference as example apps of Windows Bridge for iOS. To share my journey with Windows Bridge for iOS, I have written blog post series on Building Apps for Windows.
Design journey in Mixed Reality with HoloLens
My journey as a UX designer at Microsoft has led me to HoloLens and Mixed Reality. Since 2016, I have been working on developer experiences for Mixed Reality. Through personal app design and development experiences in Mixed Reality and collaboration with various industry partners, I have been leading the UX design effort of extracting crucial common spatial interactions and UI patterns and creating them as open-source components. These efforts resulted in the UX components of the Mixed Reality Toolkit (MRTK), Microsoft’s open-source mixed reality toolkit, which is currently the most widely used and well-received in the AR/VR/MR/XR industry.
In addition to MRTK, published several experimental sample apps created using MRTK’s components. Other focus area includes design and development guidelines, and design consulting for partner companies. I actively share stories on mixed reality design and development at conferences and meetups.
As in other platforms and mediums, I have been working on personal projects that explore typography in mixed reality space. You can find my stories on HoloLens app design & development on my blog Mixed Reality Now.