Home Improvement Dashboard
Lender's API is a fintech SaaS startup for alternative lending data. The company was building a dashboard to complement its API services.
Lenders API wanted to build a dashboard for lenders in the Home Improvement category. I led research for the project. I collaborated with a product designer, content designer, project manager, and engineer. The research was conducted throughout the design process in sprints.
The goal was to create a usable dashboard that:
Empowers home improvement lenders to identify bad actors and assists them in making loan decisions
Is intuitive, self-explanatory, and that anyone can understand and navigate
Can serve as a template for future dashboards in other lending categories.
Conduct usability testing throughout the design process to find and fix usability issues
A/B test design variations to identify preferred designs, elements, and workflows
Generate reports after each round of testing to share findings and recommendations
The initial rounds of testing were done on wireframes. One objective of these tests was to establish our design direction. My initial research made it clear that our design lacked empathy and was not focused enough on the users perspective. I found several issues: assumptions of prior knowledge, lack of explanation on how the product worked, and jargon. This is something I wanted to correct early on in our design process.
I made a plan to ensure that our design direction stayed on track. Since we were still early in the design process, I implemented personas to help us understand and operate from the users perspective.
I started by assembling information from meetings and interviews. I looked for commonalities and condensed the most useful information into personas.
Personas were quick to implement and had an immediate impact. They helped build a shared understanding around user needs and expectations. This was the first time personas were introduced to the company and the team loved them! They kept the team aligned with the company's goals and were reused for future projects.
There were varying design options for the overall flow, layout of pages, and specific components on the dashboard. We wanted to pick the most usable designs.
To accomplish this, I ran A/B tests along with the usability tests. I took participants through different flows and designs. I probed and focused on why each participant liked a specific design. Often we'd end up with a slightly different design by combining the elements users found helpful.
As I continued my research, I noticed that my feedback wasn't always arriving at a convenient time for the team.
Research tends to lag behind in sprints. The design team presents their new version (ver. 1) at the start of the week. I test this version, but by the next week they have another version (ver. 2) ready and my feedback is outdated. I recognized that this process was inefficient. To combat this, I streamlined my reports so I could have have shorter, more frequent meetings with the design team. This worked well, as we demonstrated to the stakeholders that the research had informed the design team throughout the entire process.
When I present my reports, I walk the team through the testing process. I present issues with quick and easy-to-implement solutions. Afterwards, we rank the issues by severity. The required changes are assigned to the relevant team members to ensure that the fixes are put into the design.
By the end of the project we had a functional dashboard for mobile and desktop. After a final round of testing, we delivered the product to our users. Afterwards, we started to collect feedback from our initial users. The home improvement lenders were able to use the dashboard to help their decision making process. This became an indispensable tool as it saved them money by reducing their risk. We celebrated a successful launch!
Successful product launch; well received by users and delivered on time
The onboarding process was smooth, new users were able to understand the tutorial and navigate the dashboard
The home improvement dashboard was used as a template and has expanded to 6 different lending categories (and counting!)
Personas were reused for future projects and helped the team establish confident design direction
Improved process between research and design team
In sprints, the research is more valuable if it keeps up with the design iterations
It's important to focus on the outcomes, not just the outputs. By considering the company's goals and the users needs, we ended up with happy users and a successful dashboard
You can collect a massive amount of data, but you have to translate the data into meaningful insights for the project. It is important to split time between collection and synthesizing
A/B testing is not just about comparing two designs, but more importantly it is understanding why the user prefers one design over another