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.
“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.”
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.
I’m excited to announce 2 Out of Three has been redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up. Long in need of a significant update – to implement a mobile friendly design – this project quickly expanded to include a new aesthetic, overhauls to the home page, blog and portfolio pages, and an entirely new front end architecture.
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.
“Don’t waste time reinventing common UI patterns or paradigms unless they are at least 2x better, or you have some critical brand reason to do so.”
With new design and prototyping tools hitting the market every few months, the pace of software development that targets designers is accelerating. While it’s great to see the attention being given to improving software that we as designers use, I’m typically slow to adopt new tools. Maybe I’m set in my ways, but I find the learning curve often outweighs any new power or efficiency gains that I’ll receive.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Sketch 3 from Bohemian Coding is one of them.
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.