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Transforming a complex application system

Lengthy, slow and with a desktop-only interface, the Society’s online mortgage application service was poor.

Driven by negative feedback from users and business requirements to hit new lending targets, the Society started a transformation project to build a new lending system.

Research & persona creation

First of all it was important to identify the primary users of the service, not only direct mortgage customers but also mortgage brokers. Using previous survey data, qualitative feedback and user interviews, I created personas so that we could use them as context during any ideation as well as guide design decisions with user focus.

User interviews and competitor testing uncovered the issues, user needs and expectations of the service. Such as users accessing the system on their mobile phones to get a quick mortgage decision in principle.

User journey mapping

Next, it was crucial to cut down the amount of information requested from users. Collaborating with the Lending Team, Legal & Compliance, Developers and Marketing, I identified the minimum amount of information required at each stage of the journey, rather than asking users for tons of information up front.

Using this information I created a user journey map detailing the existing service, to help both stakeholders and I to understand the end-to-end process of applying for a mortgage, not just the digital aspect, but also the offline pre and post-application experience.

Example structure of a customer journey map by NN Group.

Service design

Then it was time for me to design the desired simplified, intuitive end-to-end service. From the online aspects like the page layouts, individual form elements and interations, to the offline touchpoints with the call centre and high street branches.

One example was where the prior research had uncovered problems with the copy and language used in the application journey. I wrote improved copy for both customers and brokers, replacing some of the internal Society terminology and jargon with explanations in layman's terms and adding help text/tooltips for more ambiguous questions.

I also ensured that the improved copy/language was rolled out in the call centre so that there was consistency between the customer's online and phone experience.

UI design

At this point the high-fidelity UI design work was undertaken by our 3rd party design agency with whom I worked closely. They combined their visual design expertise with the Society's branding to create a digital UI toolkit. This was designed so it could be applied not only to this particular mortgage application process, but any digital platform or application.

Working closely with them enabled me to advise on the interaction design and accessibility features to ensure the service was usable for less digital-savvy personas or those with impairments.