For Hundy
My Role
The Hundy project involved transitioning a successful MVP into a 1.0 product. I had initially designed the MVP, which enabled the company founder to get seed funding and put together a small team. With the funding and team in place, my job was to take the MVP to the next level to design a compelling 1.0 mobile product experience.
As principal designer, I led another designer while working with the founder and the head of engineering.
Establishing Strategy
I worked with the company founder and a designer to define our differentiated experience strategy. I uncovered customer insights and conducted research so I could translate them into a flexible 1.0 product.
Planning for Product Success
The founder and I worked together to first define the product. We then ensured the business strategy fit with the implementation of the application from a user-centered, technical and business perspective.
Designing Mobile Apps
My role included leading end-to-end product design for both iOS and Android, spearheading everything from initial ideation, research, flows and wireframes to high-fidelity mockups.
Accelerating Development
Acting as the bridge to the engineering team allowed me to ensure we were designing interactions that could be implemented. I authored design documentation, behavioral guidelines, processes and video training.
Training and Mentoring
Managing, mentoring and training another designer was part of the project, enabling me to pass along a thorough understanding of research, ideation, interaction design, production processes and mobile design.
Directing Research
I led the research to define the entire functionality, spirit and philosophy of the product. Methods included user interviews, competitive analysis, validation and market research.
Defining the Problems that Needed Solving
  • Multiple Viewpoints
    To provide the most effective solution, I needed to understand the problem from the perspective of users, product owners, engineers and senior stakeholders.
  • Strategy and Value
    It was essential I understood the strategy behind the project, as well as its value to the business and end users.
  • Core Issues
    Identifying the core issues and problems was essential in this project. I wanted to gauge if the solutions people had in mind addressed the actual problems.
  • What Success Looks Like
    Establishing success criteria was another step I needed to take to determine how success would be definied for this project.


Getting Acquainted with the Basics

Taking a Fresh Approach to Loans
As a progressive alternative in the loan industry, Hundy aims to make borrowing money fast, easy and non-predatory. Because Hundy is a startup with limited seed funding and resources, it was vital to ensure we stayed within the budget and resource parameters.
Pinpointing the Differentiator
With several competitors already entrenched in this space, we needed a significant differentiator to prompt users to choose our product. The initial MVP was purely utilitarian, designed to help people borrow money. We needed to go beyond utilitarian with a user experience that made people yearn to return.
Surmounting the Challenges
One challenge was trying to get people to consistently return to an activity they typically preferred to avoid. Most people don’t enjoy borrowing money, and they enjoy paying it back even less. Even though we felt some competitors offered a poor user experience, they were already entrenched in the field. The challenge here was carving out a new niche.
Dominating with UX
The founder and I realized the core differentiator needed to be the user experience, which had to be exceptional, remarkably different from the competitors and sticky. The UX also needed to be unique enough that it couldn’t be copied easily. In short, it needed its own kind of distinct soul.
Making the Choice
I chose to work with Hundy because the founder was extremely UX savvy. He was interested in investing in an extensive exploratory research phase, one that was more ample and generous than I’ve seen in heavily funded organizations. While this move is unheard of in startups with limited funding, I both agreed with and was impressed by his decision.
Letting Research Guide the Ship
  • Insights and Strategy
    My research plan was aimed at gaining deeper insights into product pain points while looking for opportunities to evolve the product.
  • Industry Evaluation
    Our first step was getting grounded in the loan industry, which we did by conducting market research, competitive analysis, and heuristic evaluations of competitor and analogous products.
  • Customer Input
    The MVP had a pool of core, repeat customers with whom we conducted interviews.
  • Psychology and Motivation
    To ensure the highest levels of success with the product, I dug deep into the psychology and motivations behind borrowing money.
  • Insights from All Sources
    Users are a good source of insights, but they aren’t the only one. I feel insights can come from anywhere, as long as they provide a piece of information that significantly contributes to product strategy.


Homing in on Habits

Going into the project, the founder and I realized users would need a compelling reason to keep coming back. I had been following the addictive behavior trends in UX design, and we both decided to read Nir Eyal’s book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.” The book provided excellent talking points as well as a starting framework on which to design a compelling experience. While I was already familiar with feedback loops and rewarding desired behavior, these were two areas where we wanted to focus more of our attention.


Hitting the Research Jackpot

Samples of amazing reports I found
With a background in psychology, I was eager to explore the psychological motivations for borrowing money. The topic was complex and reliable information was scarce – until I got ridiculously lucky. I stumbled across an organization that published myriad studies around borrower motivations and related research, providing me with a wealth of information and the greatest research goldmine I’ve ever discovered in my career.


Users Provide Vast Insights

Interviewing Customers
I helped write the scripts and conduct user interviews, where my background in psychology was again a benefit. It helped during the interviews, which were designed to obtain specific information as well as what the users find most important.

This must be done with precision, as I didn’t want to influence the users or interrupt their flow, but I did need to steer the conversation toward the information we were most interested in learning.
Listening with Empathy
Really listening to the people who would be using the product is a major key to its success. I listened to what they said, observed what they did, and then applied what I learned in later stages to design a product people will actually use.
Proving/Disproving Theories
One of my favorite aspects of user interviews is the ability to quickly validate or invalidate ideas. Some of the ideas we thought would be popular with users were not, while other ideas we didn’t feel strongly about resonated highly.


Analyzing Competing Apps

High level summary from one of the competing apps I analyzed
Examining different competitive applications allowed me to note what worked well, what didn’t and where there may be areas of opportunities. My research involved taking videos of walkthroughs and screenshots of every screen, along with analyzing various features within each app.


Reviewing Competitor User Feedback

I aggregated and analyzed hundreds of app store reviews
App store reviews often contain nuggets of information and additional insights, so I collected them in a spreadsheet. This made it easy to quickly analyze reviews for key information that allowed us to avoid some of their mistakes and provide functionalities that were in demand.


Uncovering Key Themes through Research

The goals we created from our research served as a lens through which we could consider not only what the app should do, but also how it should feel. We knew this going to be the difference between delivering a good experience and a great one.
We synthesized our wealth of research into five key themes to incorporate into our design. These themes were based on what target customers found most valuable and important.
Helping People Help Others
We envisioned empowering people to help each other financially. One of our goals was to help people move up the financial ladder: from borrowers to the financially secure, and eventually into lenders.
Amplifying Good Character
In addition to providing obvious features, we wanted to build deep emotional connections with our users. Our vision was to create a helpful app that would inspire people to help others.
Building Trust
Another goal was to equate Hundy with trust. We wanted to ensure everything was simple, explicit and transparent, with nothing hidden or buried.
Creating Community
Building a community among users was another aim, with the app producing a sense of supportive camaraderie regardless of your financial situation.
Enhancing Relationships with Money
Helping people feel more comfortable with money, and improving their relationship with it, was another key goal. We wanted people to become more financially literate and make wiser financial decisions through engagement and educational resources.
Designing the Application
  • Design Options
    During this phase, I executed different design options and solutions, from low-fidelity to pixel-perfect mockups.
  • Visual Variations
    Landing on the optimal visual result came from designing, testing and exploring many visual variations.
  • Presenting & Refining Concepts
    Users and stakeholders were exposed to ideas at each step of the design phase so I could gather input. The feedback allowed me to readjust the design and refine the concepts.
  • Custom Solutions to Meet Critical Needs
    Designing custom UI components and solutions to address critical user needs was a key part of this phase.


Introducing the App Design

Landing in Community

In addition to prominently featuring the ability to initiate a loan, the home screen was a community-based social feed that provided updates, status and quick actionable items.

Borrowing Made Easy

Loan screens let the user quickly and easily request a new loan or get updates and make payments on existing loans.

Getting Rewarded for Learning

Users expressed their desire for educational content in user interviews, so we gave it to them. They can view educational content and earn points for doing so.

Getting Honest Feedback

Voting is available as a core community feature, allowing users to gain input from their friends and network about borrowing money for specific things. Getting feedback on what constitutes good debt vs. bed debt was critical to the app.
Delivering the Design
  • Championing UX
    I collaborated with developers and engineers to guide and champion the vision.
  • Design Handoffs Made Easy
    My aim with design handoffs was to make it as easy and painless as possible for development to move forward with confidence.
  • Complexities Explained
    Documenting all complex behavior and interactions contributed to everyone’s thorough understanding of the design.


Using Behavioral Guidelines for Optimal Interaction Design

I flushed out interactions to make development easier
Creating behavioral guidelines involves outlining how a user interacts with the system, describing everything the user can see and interact with on-screen. The guidelines also describe all possible states and scenarios, which allowed me to flush out and eliminate logical problems at an early stage of development.


Reducing Development Time with Design Guidelines

I created detailed information for every UI component, module, and screen
I created design guidelines for screen elements and components. These included all the information for the developers to easily implement the designs.


Empowering the Dev Team

Sample of the video training I created
The development team was having problems matching their developed output with the delivered design, and I helped them figure out ways to do this. I used video training, along with authoring processes that showed how they could use Sketch or Photoshop to compare the delivered design to the developed output.
Enjoying Overall Success
  • The project was successful, with results exceeding expectations soon after launch.
  • Foundation for Future Growth
    The app I created provides a solid framework upon which Hundy can grow. The company has already received additional funding and is now moving forward in the late-seed funding stage. Even in its early days of service, the app results have exceeded our expectations.
  • Value of Deep Research
    The depth of research we were able to conduct was extremely satisfying as well as important to this project. It still amazes me how a small user comment or tidbit of information can end up significantly driving the direction of a project.


Assessing Customer Feedback

Due to regulatory requirements, the app is only currently available in California. Yet Hundy can’t restrict app downloads only to California, resulting in a slate of users outside of California downloading the app and becoming frustrated when they can’t use it. These frustrated users posted the bulk of the negative reviews.
Users who are able to use the app within California have been leaving positive reviews, with several highlighted below.

Friendly ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

"Easy to use app and super friendly staff..."

Super fast and Easy ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

"Thank you Hundy! Love how transparent your program is! It's cheaper to borrow money than pay A fees! I'm saying goodbye to PayDay loans!"

Easy ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

"Way easier than asking friends and family for cash."
Need a Hands-On Product Designer?

I'd love to help transform your vision into a functional reality. I'm a full-stack
UX designer that covers the entire project cycle, from early stage strategy
and research to pixel-perfect execution.

My background and experience in technology, design, business, psychology
and programming combine to produce results that delight customers and
enhance business. Call or email me today.

Phone: 415-596-6342 | Email: ux2022@nadernejat.com

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