Each year, there’s a small window when the holiday season combines with a rush to make end-of-year tax deductions. It’s precisely this time of year that most nonprofits rely on to generate a significant portion of their annual revenue. While at Kiva we’re not as reliant on the month of December as some nonprofits, due to optional donations people make throughout the year, we still raise a significant portion of our annual operating revenue over a short one week period. This year we raised over $1 million (our goal was $800k) dollars from 43,560 individual donors making it our most successful fundraising campaign ever. The results were a whopping 36% improvement on the previous year’s results.
Following the election I expressed my feelings about the outcome in an email with my sister. Today, with hundreds of thousands of people protesting around the world and 25-30 foot waves slamming the beach near my home they feel appropriate to post.
I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start in the ocean. To me the last week has felt like being in the ocean amongst big waves. I’m never fully comfortable in these situations, I’m always worried a big set will suddenly appear on the horizon and catch me inside. The current, which can be futile to paddle against, pulls in one direction or another making it impossible to be in the right place. My breath is always shallow—each breath is not enough, I have very little control of the situation.
Recent events have me placing faith in this quote.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”
Martin Luther King, Jr. from his famous ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ speech of August 1967
During my first two years working at Kiva we designed and built features based primarily on how our staff used (or wanted to use) the website. Because Kiva’s staff is passionate and knowledgeable on the subjects of poverty alleviation and financial inclusion, this colored many of the choices we made when designing the user experiences. At a basic level this lead us to design overly complex interfaces or even overestimate the desire for a feature based on our internal preferences.
“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.”
Martin LeBlanc, Iconfinder
“Design is a solution to a problem. Art is a question to a problem.”
The womp, womp, womp of a low flying helicopter sends chills down the spine of residents in my neighborhood, San Francisco’s Outer Sunset. The sound could very well be an emergency response to a desperate man or women being pulled out to sea by the strong rip currents of Ocean Beach. In the past four months four people have died, including two this week and in April the tragic death of two 16 year old boys who were simply wading in waist-deep water. Every year similar incidents occur at Ocean Beach. While the unique geography of Ocean Beach is primarily to blame, the City of San Francisco and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) have continued to bury their heads, refusing to take steps towards improving safety at the beach, costing multiple lives year after year.
“It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives.”
Don Norman, Co-founder of Nielsen Norman Group and author of The Design of Everyday Things
When talking about design at Kiva the first thing I show people is our product architecture, which is a high level illustration of the system. I was introduced to the concept after reading a post by Paul Adams, VP of Product at Intercom, who stresses that product design is about a mission, a vision, and an architecture.
From broad ideation to pixel level detail, designers should always be thinking about their company’s mission, vision and product architecture. Everything they do should flow through this funnel.
“Negative feedback may be fun, but it is far less brave than endorsing something unproven and providing room for it to grow.”
Edwin Catmull, president of Pixar Animation Studios from his book Creativity Inc.