World’s Largest Teen Forum / Interactive World

(2007 – 2008)


  • Redesigned the entire product experience – we won an award
  • Hired and managed the design department
  • Built a culture for design and defined how the department works
  • All of this led to national recognition as one of Times Websites of the year, and record breaking profits
Gaia is what happens when you combine insanely popular forums with a virtual anime world. A little bit of crazy and a lot of fun. When I came onboard, their UI was, well, not so good. I overhauled every aspect of their platform and helped to make it one of Time Magazine’s “Top 50 Websites of the Year”.

Going To Market

Gaia has an incredible amount of things to do. One of the most popular activities is dressing up your avatar with special in-game items. Because we have so many items, we created a marketplace where users can buy and sell items to other player. I gave it a much needed update which not only made it easier to use, but added many much needed features such as auctions.
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Originally, our revenue streams were monthly gift envelopes which the user could buy for a small price, and real life merchandise such as tshirts. Gaia decided to add a new money maker in the form of Cash Shop.

Cash Shop is a special store where our users could buy in-game items for real money. These items existed nowhere else, had extra poses and other unique features.

My challenge was to create an experience that our fickle user base would love to engage in so much that they’d spend even more money on the site. I spent a lot of time in research and design. The result was well received and it significantly boosted Gaia’s revenues.
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The new user registration process is a critical one for any website. The purpose is to not only sign up the user, but to get them engaged and onboarded with your product. You need to make it interesting and/or exciting enough for them to be able to jump right in and start using it.

Our registration process included the creation of the user’s avatar as well as their information. This is their first touch point with the site experience so it has to be great.

I recreated the signup and onboarding process to be a more fresh, fun and engaging. Our test users loved it and it was a success on all levels.
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