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.
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.
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.
As promised this post on Medium goes into more detail about the process of redesigning the Kiva website. I was honored to lead the project and collaborate with numerous creative individuals from the talented team at SY/P, to Marty Grasser and Marian Chiao who designed the new Kiva logo and of course the incredible team we have at Kiva.
At Kiva we just released the largest, most ambitious redesign and rebrand within the organization’s ten year history. It’s rare to have the opportunity to undertake a holistic redesign in conjunction with rebranding so I feel lucky to have played a major role leading the effort to design a new user experience and craft a new brand.
In a recent post I talked about how to create an environment for successful design. One way we’ve gone about this at Kiva is by transforming an under utilized conference room into a dedicated design space. The room is filled with white boards, prototyping bins and my favorite—Play-Doh. There are 24 different colors to choose from and it’ll instantly make you feel like a kid again—that’s the point. When you’re in Kiva’s design space (where plenty of Play-Doh is on hand) we want you to return to your childhood. You’ll never hear a child say they’re not the “creative type” or they can’t draw. Kiva’s design space is built to bring out the creative side of everyone from engineers and product managers to legal and accounting. We accomplish this by making it easy—putting the materials at your fingertips—and providing helpful, simple guidelines to activities like brainstorming or conducting research.
Each year I work as a designer I devote less and less time to traditional ‘design’ work, like creating wireframes, aesthetic layouts or prototyping interactions. These days I spend most of my day establishing an environment for successful design to occur. For me, this shift has greatly accelerated in the past few years, partially due to specific needs at Kiva, but also, a general shift within Silicon Valley has occurred which has significantly broadened the role of ‘design’ within an organization.
In a post earlier this week I talked about my six month blogging hiatus. In actuality it was limited only to this website. I kept my writing skills sharp (I mean sharp in the same way the thirty-year-old knives at your parent’s house are sharp) with the occasional post on the Kiva blog. These pieces have generally focused on changes to the website, but I wanted to highlight one that detailed how we do user research at Kiva.
At Kiva we’ve been watching our mobile traffic grow year over year to the point where our most recent numbers show us 9% of visitors are viewing our site on a smartphone. Seeing this trend, our development team has been itching to improve the mobile experience on Kiva for a long time, and with our most recent release, we’re excited to let you know we’ve taken the first step towards a mobile optimized site.
Birthdays are a big deal at Kiva. Especially among our Product and User Experience Team, they’ve evolved as an opportunity to celebrate the fun personality quirks of each team member. As readers of this blog will know, my particular quirk is a fondness for ginger beer. So when my birthday arrived, the team skipped the cake and ice cream, opting instead for a gathering with ginger beer, limes and dark rum. This stellar event was organized as homage to the tastings 2 Out of Three has conducted over the past few years. Six different ginger beers were grouped into tasting stations where participants could write a review and rate each product on a scale of 1 to 10. Also included were the necessary ingredients for a Dark ‘n’ Stormy: organic limes, ice, and Gosling’s Dark Rum.