Mobile Self-Activation

My team and I improved AT&T’s holistic self-activation experience, increasing customers' confidence in self-service and trust in our brand.
My team and I improved AT&T’s
holistic self-activation experience,
increasing customers' confidence in
self-service and trust in our brand.
UX Designer
2 UX Designers, 2 UX Researchers, 1 Content Strategist, 1 UX Director


AT&T sees about 20 million mobile self-activations per year. However, our current phone activation and setup process can be lengthy, confusing, and frustrating. This drives these customers to seek help from agents in-store and over the phone.

Reduce customers’ need for agent support by creating a self-activation north star experience blueprint and strategic implementation plan.
There were numerous use cases, each with unique friction areas, and our project scope had too many priorities to truly focus on one.

Initial Research + Analysis

Research Goals and Methods

Our research goals were to understand the entire device self-activation user journey (including the communications leading up to activation) and align on areas of friction. We also aimed to understand user needs around transitioning to new eSIM (embedded SIM card) technology.


Internal discovery

To begin the project, I documented the existing self-activation flows of our website and app and looked across the company for previous user studies on self-activation.


User testing, current state

I worked with other designers to make a prototype of activation and setup as it exists today. We honed the prompts for 10 unmoderated user tests with researchers.

Current State Process Map

From research, we discovered how often customers are directed to different channels based on their use case. For instance, those who buy a new phone and service receive a pre-activated SIM card, while those upgrading their phone must activate their service on AT&T's website.

Analysis by Use Case

To help my team make sense of the user testing results, I created a timeline that illustrates the specific steps and challenges reported by users for each use case, alongside the orchestration from AT&T along the way. This clarified the most important areas to address in our strategic re-design.

Biggest Friction Areas


Users are unsure what to expect

Users receive little-to-no communication about activation and data transfer before they receive their new phones, leaving them unsure of what to expect.


No clear starting point

The numerous channels and online landing pages for activation leave customers confused and unsure what to follow when beginning self-activation.


Out-of-place advertisement

AT&T advertisement is unnecessarily elongating the overall setup experience for users and interrupting their primary task of setting up a new phone.

We found that 63% of customers call an agent for help without even attempting self-service.

The Problem, Reframed

When our customers are activating and setting up new devices themselves, they need a smooth experience in order to build confidence in self-service and maintain positivity for the new device.


Design Principles

Our design direction was guided by principles that were part of the larger effort to redesign customer experiences across all touchpoints with AT&T.

Ideal State Process Map

We converged on a few concepts to simplify the user process: reminders to back up your old phone, on-device SIM card/eSIM activation, and consolidated + solely contextual information on AT&T services. This more than halved the number of different routes the customer could get sent down.

Ideal State Prototype Testing

We created a high-fidelity prototype of the concepts we wanted to test. Our goal was to capture perceptions of on-device activation (particularly as it applies to eSIM phones) and gauge sentiment on the new content and messaging. We planned to gather data on each of the following key moments:

Select product and checkout, receive post-purchase communications

Receive and unbox phone

Activate new phone, transfer data and set up new phone

AT&T customers of mixed age, ethnicity, gender, and tech-savviness test drove our proposed experience.

Their highlights were the “easy activation process,” data backup reminders, and availability of step-by-step guided instructions.

Solution: a Strategy

Give customers contextual information about eSIM

Use data backup reminders to smoothen setup

Provide guided instructions through multiple means

Balance security and ease of use during activation

Provide clear information and choices about services

Impact + Next Steps

The clarity of our user journey maps enabled executives to make strategic decisions which positively affected the experience of 60 million customers. Our design strategy set the backbone for the work of downstream UX teams who saw this strategy into production. Although I was not on this project until the time of quantitative impact measurement, I got to witness the positive outcomes firsthand.

As a next step, we, as a company, communicated our recommendations and preferences for future eSIM-centric experiences to other major companies in the field. This was to create cohesion and ensure the best user experience for the long run.

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