Today, Credible users seek to understand their mortgage buying power. There are a lot of different ways users wish to tackle their home-buying journey. Some start Credible's application flow with the intent to compare mortgage rates with their property in mind or others may just be browsing to understand buying power prior to even knowing where or when they could realistically purchase a home.
Credible offers no guidance in the mortgage buying process. Our current pre-approval form flow asks users all required questions needed to gauge users buying power through assets and income. Personal details are collected to create a dashboard they land on once the form is complete. We find users confused and abandoning the dashboard after going through the above lengthy pre-qualification form experience.
May - August 2021 (4 months)
Figma, JIRA, Trello, Usertesting.com
Engagement and conversion increase by creating a dashboard that encompasses users at all potential stages of the home buying process. Elements of personalization within the dashboard display recommended actions based on a user's timeline, which is provided in the flow before landing.
Our MVP is an experience that empowers users at different stages in their home buying process and increases their trust and engagement with Credible. For users who are not ready to pull a mortgage out/purchase a home, this approach could potentially increase stickiness (return users) when they are ready.
This stage helps us orient on a path forward with our projects. We solidify confidence in the path we're building in order to paint an end-to-end picture for optimal feature success.
Important call-outs to note for project context:
Just from an initial heuristic evaluation, we could hypothesize the issues the dashboard currently had that impacted conversion and overall engagement.
1) There were 3 main CTAs
Because there was no distinguishment between a primary or secondary CTA, users couldn't be certain what the next step to take was. From a business perspective, all 3 actions were key to a user's journey, and all equally increased engagement and odds of loan conversion. It was difficult for users to contextualize their process and where they stood in that current moment, and tie that back to how Credible can best assist them.
There was not enough context provided to help users understand the value of each 3 actions and what they helped the user achieve. Even further than that, it did not contextualize how each action would meaningfully impact the overall journey from end to end. The question was raised: why would they do any if they don't even know what they do?
2) Taking a mortgage out is a life-changing decision
It was difficult to base our success on the number of loan conversions through the dashboard because taking out a mortgage is vastly different than measuring financial success through the number of users who apply for credit card loans. Taking a human-centered process of buying a home and making that completely digital proved difficult for certain personas. If they had less understanding of purchasing a home, i.e their first time, they did not want to do it in a digital environment where they couldn't ask questions and what ifs.
Second, we could target personas that have purchased a home in the past and knew how to navigate through the process, but we would need to layer in an understanding of our competitive edge over other digital offerings.
The design can be simplified to reduce the cognitive overload that users are experiencing now. Providing recommended actions based on users' inputs guides them through the process rather than directing them to current dead ends.
The dashboard a user lands on will be based on where they are in the process and what level of intent they have for purchasing a home. We collect this information in our form flow and apply it to the logic used when loading their landing state.
New dashboard widgets offer transparency on best and worst-case scenarios with cost affordances based on their assets. Confidence through education may inspire more users to use Credible for their mortgage loans
Offering guidance and education on the end-to-end home buying process within the product, users are more likely to interact with their dashboard widgets to help orient them on their buying power.
A static flow for all user journeys boxed in the potential value users might gain if they were enabled through Credible tools to build confidence within their individual experiences and process.
Utilizing measurements on the total amount of times people are using the features on their dashboard and # of daily unique users within our flow.
These measurements will help inform our learnings for building a smarter process for users based on automated personalization rather than a restricted MVP.
Basing success on engagement provides us a more in depth understanding to identify trends and behaviors in our users prior to their decision to convert or not. Using these will allow us to invest in the areas of our product that made the most impact.
The number of users who navigate and interact with the pre-qualified rate received stage (meaning users who have been pre-qualified by a loan/bank).
This metric is different from our initial conversion funnel measurements due to PQRR being more committal. this includes running a hard credit check in comparison to our first form (pre-approval) which runs a soft credit check.
An overview of the UX process applied to this project. Informing on what we started with, who we targeted, how we approached research, what we discovered, and the outcome. I started by looking to understand the current mortgage purchase flow, potential use cases for our users, and where our areas of opportunity were.
The 3 stages identified for where a user might be in their journey when they come to Credible's website to understand their home buying power.
These were identified by doing a task analysis to understand touchpoints users have throughout the flow with assets, personal information, budgeting, and other considerations they provide through the form. This would help me dig deeper to understand what type of questions a user might be asking themselves when they are either 1) thinking of a way to prepare for purchasing a home or 2) answering those questions in real-time.
Creating a visual to help us understand how fluid our results dashboard needs to be based on stage needs/wants, and where our mistakes may exist with the current approach.
The next step was to document our current flow and apply the task analysis above to better understand our area of opportunity within the project. I wanted to understand which questions a user might be having within each stage and apply that to note what features we could test with users with the goal of understanding the value they'd gain from those features and if they assist in educating their concerns and open questions within the form flow and overall home purchase journey.
The journey is more of a holistic view of home buying. Keep in mind the process is not linear with purchasing a home, but the key insights users seek remain the same regardless of which order they place their steps.
Once I completed visualizing the gaps that existed in how we approach the stage a user might be in, what opportunities exist, and how that relates to our current product, I tied them all together by seeing how the features we offer relate to each stage, and how our users encounter those available actions upon the dashboard landing.
Features within this product were based on actionable tasks such as generating a pre-approval letter for real estate agents when in the "search" process, comparing mortgage rates for the best financial option within our loan dashboard, and lastly telling us their offer was accepted, which led them to our final form for an official mortgage application directly through our lenders.
How could potential features solve pain points users are experiencing in our current flow?
How could potential features provide value for users in different stages?
The users we targeted to interview that we knew had the most valuable inputs around a home buying journey.
I conducted 4 research sessions with loan officers to understand how customers ranked levels of importance in the home buying stages and which education pieces were crucial when making process decisions.
Site users to were interviewed to gain an understanding of why they were leaving after receiving their pre-approval amount and not interacting with other parts of the product.
We targeted cohorts that had already gone through a home purchase process to gain additional perspective on the difficulties, questions, and needs they had the first time around. We also wanted to understand what an ideal process for their second purchase would look like.
How we approached research and received user input.
Two weeks were spent creating a test plan outlining assumptions, hypotheses, target personas, goals, desired outcomes, and interview questions (or scenarios). A high-fidelity mockup was created to utilize in usability testing sessions.
3 unmoderated tests were conducted via usertesting.com with 30 different customers. These unmoderated tests were utilized to hear their initial feedback on pain points within their journey and thoughts on the existing design. We used this method due to privacy laws regarding loan applications and private information within those.
The steps following research utilized our findings to inform which direction we wished to go when thinking of feature prioritization. We built out phases for MVP and the future of the product so we could ensure the foundation we were providing was in line with our long-term goals.
I implemented a survey on our dashboard page to understand what users wanted to gain from Credible or what their intent was for using Credible's service.
The selections included:
The survey ran on the pre-approval dashboard. Users only saw this survey once they completed the form flow. It was live for 30 days reaching a total of 108 users.
The results were:
The prototype we used in testing revealed three main feature asks that were grouped into high-level themes. Using the feedback provided, we broke down those key pieces of feedback into themes. This created a bigger picture for our customer asks, not just focusing on the specifics of feature desires mentioned in each call, but what the root of those asks is to holistically apply those concepts throughout the feature.
When inquiring on what is a make or break for users when considering a home purchase, monthly payments were most important. Users were seeking rates that fit into their comfort budget and our current product did not offer a monthly breakdown of cost.
Users wanted to understand different outcomes and parameters that would impact their approach when buying a home. Users wanted to see individual scenario based questions answered through the tools. 44.4% of users were just looking to browse rates without intent to pursue further.
Users wanted the experience to contain relevant data and pathways that applied to their current stage. Each user needed education around different stages of the process to guide them on the next best step.
During research sessions, I ran usability tests to record users' first-time interactions with different feature ideas to gauge their interest and the value gained from each.
How do users rank the importance of viewing different outcomes based on higher or lower down payments with their target purchase price?
Are users able to better visualize their affordances if offered market data on average home size (sq ft and bedrooms) within their pre-approved amount?
Do users feel the tools offer enough flexibility to test out what-if scenarios based on monetary changes (increase or decrease)? How does this information guide them?
What I learned from users through these feature tests:
I utilized a brainstorm session with stakeholders to reach quicker decisions. This step of the process created a holistic pre-approval approved dashboard experience that empowers users at different stages in their home buying process and increases trust and engagement with using Credible.
We needed to agree on assumptions with all research and discovery insights taken into consideration before we placed our final bets.
We agreed that engagement and conversion is likely to increase if we offer experiences for users of all stages. By introducing the first step towards personalization, we wanted our MVP to be focused on 3 different dashboards depending on responses provided from the form flow regarding purchase time frame and current stage. Using these views we can recommend next steps based on those timelines and intentions.
Our final designs for MVP
I utilized a brainstorm session with all stakeholders to reach quicker decisions. This step of the process created a holistic pre-approval approved dashboard experience that empowers users at different stages in their home buying process and increases their trust and engagement with credible.
We needed to agree on our assumptions with all research and discovery insights taken into consideration, before we placed our final bets.
We all agreed that engagement and conversion is likely to increase if we offer experiences for users of all phases. By introducing the first step towards personalization, we agreed our MVP should be focused on 3 different dashboards depending on the result listed from the form flow regarding a uesrs time frame and current process stage. By using these views we can recommend next steps based on those timelines and intentions.
Thinking of our path forward, one priority is a home search integration tool. One of the most important pieces to understanding their numbers is placing that in a real home. Users want to have reliable answers backed by data to questions such as: how much home can I get for 2k a month now that I understand my buying power?
In addition to that, Credible will continue efforts for in-depth finance views. For phase 1, we targeted the first-time home buyer at the beginning of the journey. Moving forward we want users of all stages to understand their numbers, including more complex factors such as underwriting costs, mortgage insurance breakdowns, loan officer costs, appraisals, and many more.