The objective was to come up with an idea that shows First Republic Bank goes out of its way to support Small Business Owners and make the whole process simple and smooth so that it will encourage Small Business Owners to take the loans and grow their business to the next level.
I was the only Visual Designer on the team.
I joined the First Republic as a Senior Visual designer when it was just a small team of 1 Marketing Manager, 1 engineer, the Creative Head, and myself for a Small Business Loan. I led the UX and UI strategy for the team. I've been extremely fortunate to have been part of this journey and have grown tremendously during my time at First Republic, some key achievements of which I have listed below:
Turned an idea into a product: The ability to transform an idea into something much more tangible is a process that is both exhilarating and rewarding. I worked closely with the Creative Head and team to shape the product vision and strategy of the Small Business Loan. While the product is still in the initial phase and has not yet been released to the public, being able to see how much we have grown as a team, is truly sensational.
Juggled many different hats: Working in an early stage is not easy. I dedicated numerous hours of my spare time and weekends to conducting research, sketching, testing, and designing the product alongside coordinating events, writing video scripts, and creating pitch deck presentations, for the business and marketing side of the business.
Pitched to Stakeholders: I developed skills in not only designing our pitches but also presenting them to Stakeholders and the product team.
Mobile Interface Redesign
Social Media Ads
PROJECT 1: SMALL BUSINESS LOAN (WEBSITE DESIGN)
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
Interest rates may be important to small business borrowers, but when it comes to how satisfied they are with recent borrowing experiences, it’s not all about the money. Instead, applicants have more gripes about the process, ease of application, speed, and transparency along with the information on the website.
I wanted to validate these problems so I took the initiative to run focus group sessions with the frustrated users.
After listening to these Users, we discovered the top frustrations:
High-Interest Rates: Small business loans often come with higher interest rates compared to loans for larger businesses or personal loans. The interest rates may be a significant burden for small businesses, affecting their cash flow and profitability.
Limited Loan Amounts: Small business loans may have lower borrowing limits compared to larger corporate loans. This limitation can be a challenge for businesses that require substantial funding for expansion, purchasing expensive equipment, or other capital-intensive projects.
Inflexible Repayment Terms: Loan repayment terms and schedules may not align well with the cash flow of small businesses. Fixed monthly payments can strain the finances of businesses with seasonal fluctuations or irregular income patterns.
Lack of Transparency: Some borrowers feel that lenders lack transparency in terms of providing clear information about loan terms, fees, and potential costs. Unclear or hidden fees can catch borrowers off guard and lead to dissatisfaction.
Age: 42 Occupation: Family-Owned Retailer (Home Furnishing) Business Size: 10 employees
Mark is a dedicated business owner who manages a family-owned retail store specializing in home furnishings. The business has been in the family for two generations and is well-known in the local community.
Secure loan for inventory, and store improvements
Value competitive rates
Limited financial resources hinder growth opportunities and necessary investments
Inflexible repayment terms strain finances due to seasonal fluctuations in the retail industry
Need for funds to support inventory updates and store expansion or renovation
DEFINING THE PROBLEM STATEMENT
After gathering the findings from the research, I worked with the team to define the problem statement.
The existing loan process lacks transparency and has lengthy applications, high-interest rates, inflexible terms, and limited funding access for small businesses that hampers the growth of small business owners.
THE PRODUCT VISION
As a product, we wanted to position ourselves as the leading Financial Institute/Lender management platform with 3 key focus areas:
Ease of Application: Streamlined and user-friendly application process. A platform that provides comprehensive information about the loan application process, industry-specific criteria, required documents, and estimated approval timelines.
Transparency and Communication: Transparency in loan offerings. They desire clear and upfront communication from financial institutions regarding interest rates, terms, and requirements.
Online and Digital Solutions: Online loan applications and digital platforms that allow them to upload required documents securely. Eliminating paper-based processes and leveraging technology, making it more efficient and convenient.
User testing was an iterative process that was conducted at every milestone of the project to identify the biggest pain points in the current version. Once feedback was gathered, I would revisit the prototypes and provide them to test them again.
For the brand, I wanted to create a refreshing, minimalist, and clean UI that conveyed trustworthiness and progression for the Business owners.
TESTIMONIAL POP-UP PAGE
PROJECT 2: REDESIGNING STUDENT REFINANCE LOANS
Student loan refinancing is the process of using a new loan from a lender to pay off your existing federal or private student loan balance, to secure different loan terms (for example, a lower interest rate, longer repayment term or lower monthly payments, etc.).
During journey mapping for the Student Loan calculator app redesign, the team identified experiences that didn't quite make the cut for the first iteration, and sales/bank managers were not able to create a lead generation that could turn into potential customers.
The goal was to redesign the Loan calculator page making it clean, simple, and easy to use and understand for the users.
Tight partnership with Marketing
Wireframes and user flows
Heavy Involvement with Back End Architecture
Collaboration with UX Researchers, Bank Managers, UX Researchers, and Developers
We focused on the new users, existing customers, and bank managers to understand the pain points and challenges, that users/customers were facing through surveys, interviews, and a set of questionnaires.
Based on our research, we found the following main pain points:
Complex Calculator design
Too many input fields
The result in the calculator was hard to understand
Based on our pain points, we focused our design solutions on the information architecture:
Content/Info on the page
Redesign Calculator look
Redefining Input fields
HIGH FIDELITY COMPS
The Hi-Fi Comps were designed to be clean, simple, easy to use, and user-friendly. It is more in line with the current trend with a minimized number of steps/input for potential customers who need quicker results (like less than 60 sec). The process and the results will be now more personalized to give users a unique experience based on their own data provided, previous loan history, and browsing patterns. Designed and developed by me, through collaboration with UX researchers, branch managers, marketing team, and developers.