LendInvest investor portal

When I joined LendInvest, my first task was a complete ground-up redesign and re-platform of the existing investor portal.

In addition to transforming the portal into a much better reflection of our brand, and making it much simpler and easier to use, this redesign also put in place a strong foundation to support a more flexible, modular evolution and growth of LendInvest’s products and services into the future.

Unorganised and hard to navigate

We identified several major issues with the existing portal:

  • Basic form design and communication issues made creating an account and configuring basic functionality more complicated than necessary.
  • A lack of clear differentiation between the signed-in experience and the rest of the public-facing website was creating way-finding confusion for users even in the main areas of the app.
  • Poorly structured navigation meant key areas of the application weren’t obvious destinations.
  • New sections had been added and adjusted over time, without development of a clear information architecture. Customers would routinely get lost when trying to locate functionality that should have been grouped, and clearly signposted.
Usability review of the old investor portal with one of our investors

Rapid wireframing and prototyping

I wireframed the new application as a series of low fidelity prototypes entirely in Atomic.io — a new online tool which I had just started using. This prototyping software was an amazing aid to our design process as it allowed us to quickly generate throw-away ideas and get them into interactive form quickly. We could easily share ideas with the team and also be ready out-of-the-box to run guerilla usability and concept testing around the office and local area.

  • We were able to rapidly design a scalable design framework and overall application map for the new portal.
  • We then broke down the work into specific flows that needed to be designed for the first version of our new portal and iterated on these as individual sketches and prototypes.
  • Our detailed prototypes then had key screens selected for further high-fidelity ‘flat’ design.

The rapid low-fidelity nature of Atomic also meant that we could easily break away from what was needed ‘for v1’ to quickly explore how the design might scale or evolve in the future (for instance, “What happens when customers have more than one investment account?”).

A speedy prototyping tool meant we could try our ideas out without worrying that we were burning too much time on a tangent that wasn’t needed immediately. We could also validate with customers and stakeholders which concepts should be prioritised for our initial relaunch of the platform.

Very low fidelity concept prototypes in Atomic.
Rapid concept prototypes for exploring multiple accounts, dashboard messaging
Exploring investing from multiple accounts and deposit via debit card within the investment flow
Working with a developer
Rapid collaboration with developers and stakeholders

Usability testing

As the application started to take shape, we ran further usability sessions (this time in-house with customers we recruited via Intercom) to test whether we had met our goals of improving our overall usability and the sign up and conversion flow.

Our testing resulted in some significant improvements to the portal. Notably, we were able to adjust wording in the on-boarding flow to make some concepts clearer, and also we completely removed our initial dashboard page entirely in order to simplify customers’ mental model of the application.

Launch and ongoing improvements

The new portal went live and, while we received some criticism from long-time users that we had given the old platform the “Fisher Price treatment” (large fonts, big buttons, and cards), I am confident that we significantly improved the experience for both new and existing users.

Highlights of our overall impact included:

  • Through subsequent usability research sessions and through customer observation on Fullstory we observed that users were able to more confidently navigate to the key parts of the portal, and were able to describe the different parts of their account, and understand the information displayed as intended. Our team worked particularly hard on making sure that information about loan arrears was clearly understood by customers.
  • In NPS feedback comments, there is an overwhelming correlation between Promoter scores and specific mentions of how “user friendly” the platform is. Despite an overall decrease in our NPS due to more recent interest rate decreases, positive perceptions of the investor portal’s usability still remains a consistent theme.
  • Questions to our customer service team about how to perform key functions within the application have decreased as we have both implemented requested features, and made all features logical to find and use.
  • Over the past two years our total number of users have grown dramatically – from around 4,500 when I joined, up to almost 20,000 towards the end of 2017.
  • We also won AltFi’s “Alternative Finance Platform Of The Year” in 2017, specifically for our stand out customer experience and innovative approach.
A glimpse of the new portal

Staying focussed on the customer

To ensure that the Investor team continues to benefit from customer feedback and remain close to the customer, we have put a number of processes in place:

  • Following the initial launch, I hired a mid-weight Product Designer as a permanent member of the invest team, to be responsible for the continued evolution and quality of the portal.
  • At feature kick-off, the team first reviews Fullstory, NPS, and customer feedback for more insight into how those features are used, in order to plan concept exploration and usability sessions.
  • Customer interviews and concept testing is carried out for most new features, and results are fed back to the rest of each product team. Product managers and developers regularly attend user sessions, and participate in synthesis exercises.
  • Usability tests are performed on most features in development. These days we run these by recruiting existing customers via Intercom and then holding remote usability sessions over Skype or Google Hangouts.
  • The Invest Product Designer reviews and codes all NPS comments weekly, and helps the Invest Product Manager put together a monthly report that informs the whole business on trends in customer sentiment.
  • Maintaining the simplicity and ease of use of our online experience is considered part of the Product Design team’s strategic priorities, something that the design team has ownership of independent of any specific product and feature objectives.
Invest product management and design team members

NPS as point of engagement

While we viewed NPS with some amount of healthy skepticism in terms of the number it produces, developing an NPS process had the benefit of allowing us to consistently engage with the business about what that score might mean on a monthly basis.

For the product and design teams, NPS was important because:

  • It gave us a daily reminder that real people were out there using our product, and it was impacting them.
  • It forced us to think about how to classify and analyse feedback we heard, and how it might relate to other feedback (e.g. usability sessions) we had received recently.
  • It got us using intercom with the customer service team (following up on NPS comments was done via Intercom emails).
  • It gave us an excuse to report back to the wider business each month about what customers were saying.

To this day, most of our promotor comments call out ease of use and simplicity as a key aspect of their positive feedback. This really shows how hard the team has worked to maintain and protect the simplicity of the platform.

A few of my favourite NPS and Trustpilot comments:

Some of the awesome team responsible for the new investor portal. Product, design and engineering – early 2016

Investor portal sample: https://app.atomic.io/d/1dDrQZEQQKwC

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