About the project

In 2017, I was the Product Designer for Wave's new payroll onboarding experience. Wave's Payroll is used by thousands of small businesses across Canada and U.S. to run payroll, pay employees and file payroll taxes.

The problem

Setting up a business to run payroll with Wave was a disconnected, laborious and convoluted process — resulting in sizeable support tickets and an overall low adoption of the software's best features. 

Uncovering the pain points

We began by interviewing new users about the current onboarding experience. We also reviewed Support Tickets and consulted in house Tax Specialists and Risk team to understand common issues with new users. 


7 Discoveries

1) Users don't know what Wave will take care of for them
2) Users don't know how to opt into Tax Service
3) Users have difficulty setting up Direct Deposit
4) Users don't know they should add payroll history
5) Users find setup process lengthy
6) Users don't know about incomplete steps
7) Users don't know when they're ready to run payroll

Running a Design Sprint 

As the lead designer, I facilitated a 1-Day Design Sprint involving Stakeholders, Support heroes, Product developers, and Product owners. I modelled the sprint activities after Google's Sprints. Domain experts gave lightening talks,  and the team did multiple rounds of brainstorming and sketching.


Defining our UX Goals 

1) Educate users about features and simplify opt in
2) Tailor the setup based on user needs
3) Organize steps for ease of completion
4) Communicate the status of setup
5) Clarify tax-related questions during setup

Process and artifacts

User Interviews →  Design Sprint
Journey Map → User Flows → Information Architecture
Technical Writing →  Design & Illustrations
Prototyping → User testing

Parts of the journey


Payroll needs


Custom Hub





1. Payroll needs

Educate users about features and provide greater access to turn options on or off

2. Setup Hub

A place to see all steps in setup and status of each step

3. Form pages

Simplified forms with in-line clarifications & support

4. Run Payroll Dashboard

See the status of features on dashboard before running payroll

Illustrations and Graphics


The result

After the launch of the new onboarding experience, we succeeded in increasing active users using Tax Service, reduced the number of days it took to complete full payroll onboarding and reduced onboarding-related support tickets by 15%.