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Lendage
Freedom Financial's foray into Home-Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), empowering homeowners to save more and establish strong financial footing.
Product

Lendage is designed to help homeowners leverage their equity built in their homes to consolidate their debt and make one low monthly payment.


Challenge
  • The debt consolidation market is competitive and 90% of the users abandon the Lendage application right after they get a pre-qualification offer.
  • Time to complete our main application was more than 9 minutes for one session leading to a high drop-off rate
  • Customers enjoy direct interaction with Mortgage Advisors and want instant resolution on their debts

My Role

As the only product designer on the Lendage product team, I am responsible for both customer-facing as well as business-facing Lendage applications. I spend my time understanding personas, scenarios, and crafting experiences characterized by simplicity, intuitiveness, and scalability. Besides, I synchronize regularly with other company designers to collaboratively design a seamless experience for customers exploring other freedom financial products.


ORGANIZATION
Freedom Financial Network
DURATION
Ongoing (Feb '20 - Present)
PLATFORM
Responsive Web App
ROLE
Lead Product Designer
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Product Strategy

In the old flow, users would drop off in the application process because they would be tempted to search for other offers and the application was too long to stay committed. In the new flow users fill a short application form called the "Express App". On completion, a Mortgage Advisor reaches out on phone and completes the rest of the application on the user's behalf. This also creates an opportunity for the mortgage advisor to tailor the offer based on the user's requirement.

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Lender Agent Challenge: Multiple Systems

Agents have to use various systems to organize information about a borrower which reduces their efficiency and makes them susceptible to errors.

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Lender Operator Portal

Product strategy was to build a focused portal that pulls data and features from other systems to create a unique smooth workflow for the agents to help them achieve speed and efficiency.

Research

Product Background

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Freedom Financial has been long serving borrowers with their saving needs and helping them to be financially empowered through debt consolidation products. To further cater and extend the savings specifically to homeowners, creating a HELOC (Home-Equity Line of Credit) product was a logical integration into Freedom financial's suite of products.


Lendage product can be broken down into two core areas of experiences. One being consumer-facing and the other mortgage advisor facing. I was concurrently working on both areas partnering with teams responsible for respective areas.

Persona & Scenario

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Experience Journey

It was essential for me to understand the context of the users coming into the Lendage application. Typical users are in financial distress caused by unforeseen circumstances and are looking for solutions that are simple to understand and would be effective to get them to a financially stable position.

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Broad-level customer-facing flows include Qualification, Offer, Application, and Todo widgets. I have been continuously improving the flows based on customer feedback and business requirements

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Design

Pre-qualification Flow

The pre-qual flow consists of screens that determine the basic eligibility of a HELOC applicant. I worked on a variety of pre-qual flows, distinguished by where the flow initiates. Given below is an example of a Facebook-originated pre-qual flow for mobile that I designed which gathers basic information and analyses if an applicant is eligible for a Lendage offer.

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On mobile screens, I generally make sure that interactive elements on the phone UI are thumb-reachable. For the Pre-qual flow I architected the form fields and buttons to be optimized for thumb reachability.

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Offer Page

The offer page is one the most crucial piece in the entire customer journey where the customers decide if they are satisfied with the pre-qual offer and if they want to continue. I am constantly engaged in designing the offer page as we gather customer data and new business requirements.


Page on the right was a designed for usecase with an applicant qualified for two lendage offers, "10 Year HELOC" and "15 Year HELOC". The design offer's two plans and the third is a comparison opens a comparison table between if they choose a Lendage plan vs if the decide to continue with their current strategy to resolve debt.

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The graph shown above was an exploration I did to help users visualize how they can pay off their debts faster with lendage compared to doing nothing. The switch underneath allowed them to visualize both 10 Year & 15 Year Lendage programs.

Application Flow

Application forms with a series of screens set a challenging task before designers where they have to critically prioritize requirements to improve the overall experience. I followed the best practices in form designs to keep the application intuitive to follow and doesn't burden the user. I analyzed each component and improved them through regular design exploration and critique loops.

Less is More.

Reducing dependency on users is the best way to get them past the application stage. I have continuously worked with the product managers to remove unnecessary fields or that can be pre-populated through different sources such as the credit score reports, publicly available data, and data gathered from pre-qual.

Intelligently showing fields only when needed.

This helps users to be comfortable and not get overwhlemed by the length of the form.

Optimizing mobile real-estate with industry's best practices.

Allowing full functionality of the desktop experience in mobile can be challenging. In this example side drawer feature came in handy for the users to view their application status.

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Design, Test, Analyse, Repeat

Continuously testing out designs helped me to determine breakdowns and allowed me to iterate and refine designs. Testing mortgage advisor experience was extremely fruitful as we could gain great insights from the users and were able to test concepts immediately.

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Contextual Design

A variety of factors goes into consideration while designing the same screen for different devices. For example, in the document upload screen, for desktop, I designed a drag and drop functionality whereas, for mobile, users can click a picture and upload the document.

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Engaging Visual Design

Filling out HELOC applications can get complicated, tiring, unnerving for the users. Being cognizant of the user's state of mind I make sure the designs feel visually pleasing, engaging, and fun. Here are some examples of system status messages in scenarios where there is a system error.

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Lender Agent Experience

Designing the Mortgage Advisor Experience has been one of my primary functions at Lendage. I closely partner with Product Managers, Mortgage Advisors, and Engineers to make sure the designs cater to their needs and helps them do their job effectively.

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Scalable Information Architecture

Lender Agents typically work with several applicants at a time and having the right information readily accessible helps them to stay focused and be efficient. I designed the new framework from groundup by having the layout align with Agents mental model. The UI is laid out in a manner where we could add more steps within application or add new agent tools as required.

Lender Agent Tools Design

While reviewing applications lenders frequently needed specific set of tools such as credit history, notes, communication history, logs, and offer calculator. I had to create a unique drawer interaction for them to access these tools as shown in the prototype.

Lender Agent Portal

The Lender Agent Portal relieves agents from relying on multiple systems to process an application. I regularly consult with the Agents while iterating over the designs in order to prioritize features.

Single-handedly designed the portal ground up

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Qualification Calculator

The core business engine sits within the qualification calculator where the Agents select credit lines for an applicant to consolidate and generate offers. I tried to optimize for simplicity and natural flow over aesthetics for this design.

Results



Customer Facing Products

  • Initially, the user had to fill a nine-page form to complete the application leading to a high drop-off rate. However, after the introduction of the express app, the user has to fill only a single form with 5 fields and later get connected with a lendage agent. This reduced the total drop-off rate by 30%.
  • The lendage application being optimized for mobile enables users to upload documents instantly which has improved total application processing time by 20% weeks.
  • Being engaged with the lendage agent early on has allowed customers to explore more offers and pick which suits there requirement. This has attributed to 60% more offer generation

Agent Facing Products

  • By launching the lender agent portal has improved the workflow for the lender agents drastically and there is a 100% adoption rate of the portal amongst the agents.
  • Lenders can process more applications because of the increased productivity and have processed 50% more applications per agent in the last 12 months.
Portfolio Projects

© Rohan Gaikwad 2021