ROLE: 1st design hire, Lead Designer, Senior Design Manager
Bringing ease & delight to the uncertain world of small business lending while standing up a powerful new business for Intuit.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy*, creating 2/3 of net new jobs but around half will fail within the first 5 years primarily due to cashflow issues.
Particularly young businesses struggle to secure traditional funding at a time when their fledgling businesses need it most. While a plethora of online & alternative lenders offer speed & ease they can come at a high cost or with predatory terms. We set out to test our business-led LOFA that QuickBooks data, combined with bank and bureau data could be used to lend to this underserved community. A skeleton skunk works team was assembled which included risk, data science and compliance as well as design, product and engineering. We moved quickly to launch our Alpha to test appeal, as well as core functions of the product.
*Source: SBA Small Business Finance
Early insights – designing for trust and transparency. As sole designer, I quickly moved to understand everything I could about the lending industry while talking to as many QuickBooks customers as possible. A few insights were evident from the outset: lending was nerve-wracking and often confusing; trust, transparency and cost were critical; and that we had an enormous advantage with our brand. With these in mind and partnering closely with risk, compliance, product & engineering, we designed our bare bones alpha experience to be as simple as possible.
Loan card. Using research techniques such as card sorting, I was able to identify the key customer-driven information components along with their relative hierarchy. While this created great clarity for our own product, we also used this same card design on our partner marketplace – for the first time, allowing customers to easily compare across different products and influencing the industry along the way!
Alpha launch & learnings. Our Alpha was a great success – but customers wanted more! more flexibility, more terms, easy repeats, repayment flexibility among others. The industry standard APR definition continued to cause confusion as a proxy for cost. Our design team grew and together we continued rigorous research, experimentation and to round out the experience.
Once we had our alpha live, we continued to iterate on multiple product levels – expanding populations, testing risk, widening options, consolidating the product, ongoing research and experimenting with the UI.
- Loan calculator. Customers had a strong desire for customization, and our calculator was designed to respond to this need. It proved extremely successful, as well as helping customers understand the product, it was a great enabler of trust. Through mouse tracking & analytics we saw an increased degree of engagement and funnel throughput.
- Loan portal. We also built out our loan portal, enabling customers to clearly see and interact with their repayment process, pay off early and renew. Out loan bar was a source of delight.
- Declines. Regrettably, declines are a part of life and our team leaned in with great empathy, taking approach of ‘decline as a path to yes’ continuing to use this experience to educate customers and promote product transparency. We experimented with a number of different approaches.
- Marketing. It was important to me that our product experience be as seamless as possible, from first awareness through to repeat renewal so my team and I partnered closely with our marketing colleagues, being either directly involved or influencing most activities, from establishing value proposition through to multiple launches, websites, message tests, campaigns, art direction and case studies. As a result our public launch was recognized for being extremely cohesive and successful.
- Core integration. Promoting awareness within the main product was critical to establishing our new offer. I partnered and advocated with central teams to achieve this.
- Data & analytics. Worked closely with the data team from outset to set up funnel tracking, keeping this aligned to customer experience. This clarity and visibility has been invaluable in testing & experimenting with change.
- Risk & compliance. Our customer insights were greatly influential on these powerful teams.
We have continued to iterate, respond and explore particularly experimenting at the top of funnel, where greatest opportunities lie. Our design team drove key innovations, such as the integration of a business credit score (a first for QuickBooks) and continues to provide future direction. My design provocations for deeper integration and more fundamental product innovation are influencing wider organization and formed basis for new offerings for Intuit.
Team building & empathy
From sole principal designer, I grew a group of cross functional designers consisting of interaction, visual, content and research, flexing with contractors as needed. Our team became customer champions, extending empathy & research activities to our cross functional partners and pioneering methods since adopted by other product teams. Capital is renowned for having customer empathy deeply embedded in product experience and across the whole group.
QuickBooks Capital is now an established business unit which continues to scale and grow with dedicated multi-function design group. From simple first offering now evolved into robust product with deep integrations across ecosystem and a powerful business enabler for QuickBooks customers. Steady NPS of 87% +
I received a Scott Cook innovation award in 2018 for my contribution – the only designer recognized that year.View