Empathetic by design: How Amélie Werner prioritizes her team to drive innovation for customers
As head of Design Ops, UX Research, and Global Commerce Design at Prime Video, Amélie helped oversee the redesign of the user experience – a journey that’s allowed her to embrace Amazon’s Leadership Principles while empowering her colleagues.
“Entertaining our customers is serious business,” says Amélie Werner, Prime Video’s Global Head of Design Operations, UX Research, and Global Commerce Design. “Movies, TV series, and sports are incredibly fun, yes, but a big part of our customers’ enjoyment comes from the investments our team makes in design details to make our product more delightful, beautiful, and user-friendly.”
In addition to leading Global Commerce Design, Amélie leads strategy and operations for the Prime Video UX Design and Research team, which uses customer research and insights to continuously power a pipeline of enhancements for Prime Video.
“Prime Video should feel like a good friend making recommendations that are true to who you are,” Amélie says. “Creating great user experiences is about bringing things to life. It’s exciting to work in a role where our teams get to create meaningful moments for customers around the world.”
Ensuring all team members have a Prime spot at the table
Amazon’s innovation is centered around having a Day 1 mentality, which means doing everything with the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of a new organization on its very first day. To do this, Amélie makes it a priority for the UX team to be at the table when design-related conversations are emerging. “Our UX designers and researchers are strategic partners whose research and ideas make a big impact on the experience for our customers.”
It’s incredibly fun to work on things that make people’s lives better by creating moments of joy and connection.
Amélie also focuses on ensuring that the experiences her teams build will be understood and widely used by all of Prime Video’s customers. “Everyone should be able to interact with Prime Video in a way that is delightful. Inclusive design puts Prime Video’s customer obsession at the center from the very beginning. By learning from our customers, we ensure that new and diverse perspectives provide us insights to build an incredible experience for everyone.”
Throughout 2020, Amélie’s team helped design features including Home Cinema Experience, which lets customers watch new-release movies at home, and Watch Party, which lets customers watch movies and series with friends and family virtually.
“It’s rewarding to work on things that make people’s lives better by creating moments of joy and connection,” she says. “And we see lots of opportunities to continue building fun experiences that will make Prime Video even more enjoyable.”
Amélie was the global head of design operations for the design of a cross-functional project to refresh the Prime Video user interface (UI) and create a more simplified and seamless customer experience. After contributions from marketing, engineering, product, and other teams across the Prime Video organization, the reimagined interface debuted in summer 2022.
The redesign makes it easier for Prime Video customers to find, discover, and watch content that matches their Amazon Prime membership and subscriptions, in addition to improving the aesthetic quality of the interface.
“Customers use a mobile device to explore Prime Video differently than they do in their living room or on the web,” Amélie explains. “As a team, we have a goal that we call ‘weaving the tapestry.’ Every team is focused on its specific thread of the experience, and the UX team weaves these threads together to form a cohesive experience.”
Launching a career of “high-velocity innovation”
Born in France, Amélie moved to the United States at an early age. She graduated with an IT degree from Santa Clara University in the Silicon Valley and began her career at Cisco Systems before moving to T-Mobile, where she spent more than a decade honing her project and operations management skills. She also discovered a passion for product design.
“I was inspired by the creative energy, strategic thinking, and opportunity to support teams delivering impactful innovation at the beginning of the funnel,” she says. “I wanted to be part of building amazing customer experiences, and gravitated toward roles where I could add strategic value.”
I felt like I could add value and help the team continue to deliver high-velocity innovation.
In 2013, Amélie joined Amazon as the Studio Manager for a small UX Design studio for Amazon Instant Video. “Those were the early days of Prime Video, when customers could scroll through a carousel of movies to rent or buy,” she recalls. “Our catalog then was much smaller than the vast catalog we have today, and we didn’t have all of the live events, sports, and subscriptions.”
Amélie left Prime Video in 2015, spent three years at Microsoft as chief-of-staff for the Microsoft Advertising Global Operations team, followed by an opportunity to manage internal communications at Nordstrom. She returned to Prime Video in 2019.
Reflecting on her decision to return (known as “boomeranging” at Amazon), Amélie recalls: “I sharpened my communications and coordination skills during that time away from Amazon, but really missed working with designers. I was motivated by the growth of the UX Design studio and Prime Video overall–which had expanded into a streaming entertainment hub with dynamic offerings like live sports and events, linear TV, and third-party subscription add-ons. I felt like I could add value and help the team continue to deliver high-velocity innovation.”
Amélie’s journey at Amazon has continued to evolve in Prime Video, and in 2022, Amélie stepped in as the interim Global Head of UX Design and Research. “It was an honor to step in and lead the team, but also a good challenge for me in what it means to inspire others and build connections.”
Journeying toward a strategic, more inclusive future
Amélie describes her superpower as being able to inspire people and align teams against common goals through a combination of organizational skills and strategic vision. “I can see what’s on the horizon and ensure our team is prioritizing and creating work that will make the biggest impact for our customers and business,” she says.
Amazon’s Leadership Principles serve as the compass for this. “If you truly lean into them, they will guide your journey,” Amélie says. “Customer Obsession is one principle we all embrace, but I’m constantly inspired by Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit. Amazonians are encouraged to come in with a strong voice and to share a point of view and why it’s important–and to disagree, if necessary–but commit to the team’s decision once it’s made.”
Amélie proudly wields her strong voice to empower other women. A passionate advocate for women in tech, Amélie is a senior adviser to the board for the Seattle chapter of Women at Amazon (one of Amazon’s 13 affinity groups), where she provides guidance on programming and priorities for the Seattle chapter.
“As a woman leader, I have a responsibility to give a voice to other women,” says Amélie. “I want to see a place where my daughter has a voice in whatever career she wants to undertake, and that she feels like she can do anything. That’s why I believe it’s important to be the change you want to see by playing an active role in helping to shape a better future.”