Systems design // Product design // Brand design

The new Gusto experience.


On July 22nd 2019 we launched a completely overhauled brand over a year in the making. Emotionally and visually, it clarifies the ways we serve small business and their teams – by fostering humanity at work. And with that brand we launched a massively improved product experience to better honor that commitment.

2018 – 2019

  • Principal product designer
  • Brand strategy
  • Brand identity
  • Creative direction

In 2015 we changed our name from ZenPayroll to Gusto and made some updates to our visual expression, but lacked a holistic brand. The more time passed, the more different Gusto felt across touchpoints. As more cracks started to show, design leadership built a case for a strong brand that could grow with us.

Another rebrand?

In the time since we became Gusto, the industry-wide conversation about accessibility and inclusive design ignited. By declaring ourselves a company that empowers humans at work, we needed to prioritize accessibility from the start. I drove decisions on color and typography, ensuring our palette met the highest modern accessibility standards and our product typeface performed across sizes and use cases.

Laying an accessible and elegant foundation

One of Gusto's core values is transparency. But with something like brand, which can be hard to understand and interpret, knowledge is necessarily more self-contained. But people had a ton of questions. Didn't we just rebrand? What's changing? How will this impact my work? We needed to find a way to communicate the bigger picture idea of a powerful brand – how it drives product innovation and deepens the way we connect with customers.

Inspiring the company with realistic fiction

Showcasing real customers in their natural working environments really celebrates humans at work. The signature animation nods to the care and devotion these humans put into their work. Motion design collaboration with Sara Berry. Photography by Jenna Carando.
What if onboarding through Gusto was a guided mobile experience that builds excitement and creates a sense of belonging?

Let's launch this thing

Designing in a vacuum is fun, but we were on the line for a revamped product experience by brand launch. Updating color, typography, and illustration was the bare minimum, but our team aimed a lot higher. For the new Gusto to really land with our 100,000+ Gustomers, we wanted them to feel like we did way more than add a coat of paint.

As the principal product designer, I systematically redesigned our frontend, focusing on improving visual design, accessibility, and usability. I started with our 70+ components and built up to flows and experiences, paying special attention to those with the most business value.

Along the way, I worked with the rest of the Product Design team to find opportunities to add warmth and sophistication (our new shorthand guideposts for design quality). And I closely partnered with our frontend engineers to understand tradeoffs and collaboratively develop solutions.

I created detailed schematics for every component and their many states. I built the components in Figma with the future in mind. When it came time to compile our new UI kit, most of the work was done.
The most viewed page in Gusto – the admin dashboard. The new one has improved layout, hierarchy, and navigation to add sophistication. Time-based illustrations, rotating welcome messages, and team photos add warmth.
The 2nd most viewed page in Gusto – payroll success. The new table, tabular numbers, and balanced layout add sophistication. The playfully relaxing hero illustration and copy add warmth.
Our main employee touchpoint – the beloved payday email. A new visual system and layout add sophistication. The vibrant header illustration and bonus celebration section add warmth.
An employer's time tracking dashboard. A clean layout that simplifies complex information adds sophistication. The large employee profile photo adds warmth.

So...we launched! And so much of that credit goes to our heroic frontend engineers Brad and Robin. Without them, there would be no new and massively improved Gusto. Since launch, the three of us have shifted focus to formalizing Gusto's new Design Systems team. As the lead designer, I split my time between evolving the design system and empowering the rest of the Product Design team with great documentation, workshops, and frequent pairing.

New beginnings post–launch

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