Kiva rebrand & redesign
In 2016 Kiva 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 refresh the brand.
Since Kiva’s founding in 2005, 1.5 million lenders have used the platform to make over $850 million in loans. While these stats speak to an impressive first 10 years, at Kiva we see a future where hundreds of millions of people support billions of borrowers, both locally and around the world. To achieve that ambitious scale we defined three goals for the redesign project.
In 2011, Kiva launched the experimental website KivaZip.org (which leverages direct person-to-person lending vs. the traditional model of relying on intermediary local microfinance partners). The Kiva Zip pilot gained traction of its own, and, to allow for additional growth and operational efficiency, the organization wanted to integrate the two websites.
Redefine Kiva’s brand
Traditionally microfinance loans are a few hundred dollars and are often deployed to small, individual enterprises such as farming or small markets located in developing countries. Over the past 10 years, Kiva has significantly broadened its offering – for example, you can now lend to small U.S. businesses or students seeking loans for tuition. Yet all too often, lenders along with the press, continue to define Kiva as strictly an international development organization focused on traditional microfinance methods.
Improve the user experience, making lending easy and compelling for mass participation
In the six years since the last redesign, the landscape has changed with mobile and tablet usage significantly increasing in popularity: 20% of kiva.org visits come from mobile devices. A redesign provides the opportunity to think holistically about the information architecture, navigation and other key elements of the website – addressing them with a mobile first, responsive design mindset.
Defining the aesthetic
From a visual standpoint we wanted to remain rooted in 10 years of success while evolving the leafy, green identity to highlight the growth and diversity of lending on Kiva. Two elements came to play a central role in the new Kiva aesthetic:
To reflect the visual diversity found in the 84 countries where Kiva works, we showcase inspiring photos of borrowers and their communities. This brings Kiva’s story to life while at the same time expanding the color palette beyond the two-tone green established years ago. All of these photos are taken by Kiva Fellows and staff while visiting borrowers. They help us convey Kiva’s vision and mission while shifting the perceptions and stereotypes often associated with traditional aid and charity work.
As we design at Kiva we’re always trying to find a balance between playful optimism and a trustworthiness essential for an organization that holds people’s money. As noted by its designer Josh Finklea, the typeface Post Grotesk fit the bill from its very inception.
“The intention was to build an amiable typeface with maximum usability and an overall sense of neutrality. Post Grotesk reduces the typical rigidness of a grotesk through subtle additions of personality and uniqueness.”
With its versatility and various weights, Post Grotesk is a work horse for Kiva, appearing in headlines as well as body text. Marty Grasser and Marian Chiao even employed the typeface in their redesign of Kiva’s logo — which also evolved Kiva’s identity while honoring its history — creating a harmony through all aspects of the brand.
To understand how the target audience of first time visitors and returning lenders interacted with the website we conducted extensive research using surveys, interviews and analytics data to understand what visitors were trying to do and the pages they visited.
First 3 things users try to accomplish
Based on existing lender survey (187 people)
Key lessons from the research such as elevating the visibility of pages such as “About” and “How it works” for potential lenders while ensuring existing lenders had easy access to their balance and the ability to lend become central to the design of the site map and navigation structure.
Motivating visitors to become lenders is central to Kiva’s ability to grow the movement. The home page reflects the work we’ve done to it easy for first time lenders to understand the basics, validate the organization and then jump into lending.
The borrower page balances the needs of low volume lenders who often become overwhelmed by the information available about each borrower with the needs of power lenders who visit Kiva multiple times each month and consider more detailed criteria such as Field Partner, loan length, default rates and delinquency rates.