Universal Search


The Walt Disney Company

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Universal Search


Lead UX Designer


Experience Design - Disney Entertainment and ESPN Technology




The Universal Search Experience focuses on providing a utility that delivers breadth and accuracy in results, while empowering users to enhance their search interactions and achieve their intended goals effectively. Designed as a templated framework, this experience will be used across
The Walt Disney Company's suite of digital platforms.

This is a high-level overview of my design process. Can show in depth design visuals in person upon request.

  • Discoverable - Empower users to discover content on their own terms and feel confident exploring and refining search results.
  • Flexible - Provide a set of flexible tools that support diverse results and use cases.
  • Predictable - Reduce cognitive load by establishing intuitive search patterns that also feel familiar.


As a UX designer under Disney Entertainment and ESPN Technology design team, I play a pivotal role in delivering first-class user experiences for Disney’s 90+ consumer facing digital products. On my immediate team, Experience Design, we focus on building brand-agnostic and branded digital experiences for platforms that include ABC, ABCN, ESPN, ESPN Fantasy, National Geographic, and Star Wars

For NDA purposes, this particular case study is a high-level overview of the design process behind a brand agnostic web and native app template for a universal search experience that will be implemented across the aforementioned digital products.

The Challenge

How can we utilize our design system to create a better
search experience for the user with consideration for individual brand needs ?

ABC, ABC News, Disney, ESPN, Marvel, etc have their own unique systems and stylings that make it difficult to maintain consistency of common experiences like searching and browsing across all of the brands. Taking into consideration the individual needs of each brand, how do we also address the main needs and motivations of the user in this experience without building a new design system?

Current Search Experiences

First step was to audit the search experiences that currently exist within the different digital platforms, looking closely at where users go to search for content, where the suggested content lives, and how users can configure that content to find exactly what they're looking for.


ABC News



ABC News



ABC News


After doing an internal audit of search experiences, I took this opportunity to create a universal design solution that would make finding content and tailoring results more efficient and configurable for the user while also tailoring to each brands unique needs.

Discovery, Iteration, and Refinement

November 2021

Exploring Solutions for Search
My team was approached by a brand to improve their platform's search experience for their target audience and optimize conversion funnels.
I took the opportunity to identify and address inefficiencies and inconsistencies across other platforms to create a unified search framework that improves user searches and meet business goals.

Goal: Audit what currently exists and explore solutions that meet the requirements of individual brands and their target users

Results: An internal and external audit of search experiences across entertainment, news, commerce, etc. and completed phase 1 of low-fidelity wireframes showcasing search input and results.
January 2022

Crafting the Experience
Building off of the discovery and initial wireframing phase, I took the explorations to the team to receive feedback and work to increase fidelity of the search framework.

The main focus was on the users journey from Pre-search query, Mid- search query , and Post- search query leading to the results page.
March 2022

Understanding the User and
How They Search
Partnering closely with user research, I created a click through brand agnostic prototype of the search design to test with users in order to develop an understanding of how users prefer to discover and find content.

The test revealed that users only want to see and process relevant results, have control over how content is presented to them, and want to conduct their search in one location.
June 2022

Introducing a New Problem
After meeting with various product teams, I was presented with a new problem:

"As a search user, I  want to see the most important and relevant content immediately so that I  can get information ASAP"

What does this look like? I took the new requirements  and began brainstorming and designing a variety of concepts with my design and product teams before creating low-fidelity wireframes of this new promotional feature.
August 2022

Refining the New Search Experience
With the core experience wireframed, tested and iterated upon, I then felt confident to move into a more refined state. I gathered additional feedback from product partners and the larger design team before moving on to contributing to the design system
September 2022

New Components for the Design Library
I designed a first iteration of new search components that currently did not exist within the design libraries. Partnering with a product designer on the design systems team, we worked on a second iteration of these components and kept in mind some of the following questions:
October , November, December 2022

Stress Testing
with Brand Libraries
With the universal framework in place, I then began applying various brand libraries for different brands to the search experience, accounting for specific feature requirements obtained from product partners.
This exercise included testing type, color, iconography, content card treatment, and content placeholder for brands like:
January 2023

Review and Refinement with
Product Partners
Reviewing the branded search experiences with their respective product partner helped to refine each platforms unique use cases. I  was able to configure the search experience with features that would best represent the platform that it would be living on.
February 2023

Phase 2: Research
Finally, I wrapped up by partnering with user research to conduct a second round of user testing, using a branded version of the search experience to explore user's expectations and mental models in relation to branded site search.

Branding the experience

Elements like auto-suggest , filter tabs, and topic categories from the universal search experience was implemented into the recent re-design of the ABC News mobile application and OTV mobile applications for iOS and Android

To tailor the universal template to this ABC News redesign , I focused on adjusting to engineering constraints, type of content available on the app, and content metadata

increase in daily search traffic for ABC News mobile
increase in daily search traffic for ABCN 7 mobile
Final Thoughts

This project challenged me to think critically and practice end-to -end  human-centered design thinking in order to design a universal framework that both empowers the user and addresses business needs. I sought opportunities to experiment with interactions and patterns and explore edge cases that lead me to introducing a new component into the design library. For next steps, this framework would be adjusted to specific brand needs and engineering constraints. In the end, I was able to deliver a framework that is intuitive and functional, and ultimately give all control and flexibility to the end-user. I enjoyed working alongside our project partners and research team, and glad I got to be lead designer on such an impactful project.

Testimonial section

“I worked directly with Deia in her time at Disney on design concepts that impacted the search experience across a number of products, including ABC News, Star Wars, ESPN, and Disney.com.

In my work with Deia, she demonstrated strong design and research skills, high adaptability and flexibility, and a contagious enthusiasm for learning.”

Lily Lin

UX Researcher

“Deia was very insightful when providing use cases to help build the components for the search experience.

With her help and guidance the component building process was faster and easier! Now our design system is able to provide the right search components essential for all of of our digital brands”

Kevin Alumno

Product Designer -Prism-Core / X-Brand

“Deia is a great partner in the design process. She is receptive to product feedback, making thoughtful iterations and approaches based on questions, concerns, and suggestions.”

Charity Tran

Sr. Product Manager - Fan & Branded
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