August 2, 2011

Recent Design Work – Kiva Free Trials

8,000 Loans in Under 30 Hours, Kiva Goes Viral on Twitter and Facebook

It’s been a little over two months since I started working at Kiva. In that time I’ve polished a number of small elements around the site but nothing felt substantial enough to brag about. Yesterday, that changed with the launch of Kiva’s invite challenge – a major portion of which was designed by yours truly. The promotion allows Kiva users to invite friends to make a free $25 loan on the site. Response to the free trials have been huge – with over 8,000 invites handed out in under 30 hours (demand was so great that Kiva doubled the initial allocation of 4,000 trials).

The excitement around the loans was primarily driven through social outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, where existing Kiva users had broadcast the campaign to friends and followers. While there is little doubt that “free” goes a long way in promoting anything, a quality product is just as critical. My congratulations go out to the great Product and Engineering teams here at Kiva for a job well done. You brought my designs to life and I’m proud as hell to be working with you.

Because this blog is attached to my portfolio, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the design, specifically the use of a vertically long page, which unlike most web designs, embraces the scroll bar. Because of the limited real estate on computer monitors, traditional web design has been very focused on maximizing the amount of content that remains “above the fold” – an estimate for the space above the bottom of a user’s browsers window. With this invite challenge we threw out those constraints and utilized the expansive nature of a web browser. The “long page” design we implemented allows users to move through a screen as if it were a story revealing itself piece by piece. While we were careful to include the important calls to action within the standard view port of a 15″ laptop we trusted our users would easily discover the rest of the information with a simple scroll of the page.

Once our design had been freed from the limits of the “fold” we were able to implement a number of the elements that made this design so successful. These include:

  • Well defined, easy to read steps with corresponding actions.
  • Upbeat aesthetic that encouraged users to spread the word. We even put a bird on it with a lovely illustration by Samantha Tripodi.
  • A narrative style design which fit well with the theme of growing Kiva in order to fund micro-loans around the world.
  • Very cool parallax scrolling of the clouds, coded by the talented Mr. Gabriel Castillo.

An long page design showing sky transitioning to earth along with the proper steps to invite a new user to Kiva

Web designs utilizes a long scrollable page with a sky, tree, and ground background.

At this point we’ve gone through all the free trials but you can still participate in the campaign and view the design at my “invited by” page. You can still make a loan, but will have to provide the funds, which will help alleviate poverty around the world.