Last month I left Kiva after six amazing years for an incredible opportunity at Mozilla to be lead designer in their Emerging Technologies group. I’m part of an R&D team focused on new technologies which may find their way into Firefox or become new products, helping the organization fulfill its mission to keep the internet healthy, open and accessible to all.
All in all the new Firefox is easy to use, blazingly fast and aesthetically pleasing – making it a pleasure to use every day.
Joining Mozilla in October was the catalyst to adopt Firefox as my daily browser. The release of Quantum should be yours: it’s a browser with faster page loads, developed by a non-profit with a mission to build a healthy internet. It’s a no brainer.
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.
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.
I’m working on a detailed write up about the design process but I’ll start by sharing the drivers for undertaking the redesign.
Identifying a user’s primary interaction with your website is essential to understanding where to focus a development team’s limited resources. At Google, the search box and corresponding results are so important that the company tests every interaction no matter how minor. During my time at Wikia I continually advocated for the company to focus similar attention on the Rich Text Editor (and source mode) which is used to write, edit, and add images to every article in every wiki. So I’m excited to see that my redesign of the editor has finally made it’s way out of development and onto the site. While this was the last project I worked on at Wikia I always felt it would make the largest impact on the user base.
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).
Last week I began a daily commute to the Mission to work as Senior Visual and Interaction Designer at Kiva.org. A little over five years ago I learned about Kiva, a micro lending website, and have been using the site ever since. The website allows a person – usually based in the developed world – to lend money to an entrepreneur in the developing world. Kiva’s mission always struck me as the embodiment of the egalitarian promise the Internet’s creators always envisioned. So when an opportunity to join the company as their first full time designer came up, I jumped at the chance.
Wikia Labs, a new feature introduced by Wikia last week, was one of the most exciting features I designed during my time with the company. If you’re familiar with Gmail Labs you’ll understand how it works. Users (specifically admins) on Wikia can turn features on and off – the set consists of Top Ten Lists, Gallery Exhibitions, and Article Comments. This new ability gives administrators a greater level of control over their own wiki. Additional it provides a limited environment for Wikia to launch new features and gather feedback from users. For Wikia’s devoted user base, change can often be scary and invoke a backlash from the most passionate users comfortable with infrastructure currently in place. Wikia Labs serves as a bridge to acclimate users to new tools and gather feedback to ensure the the company is delivering features that are needed and wanted by the community.
Earlier this year the team at Wikia started down the path to redesign their product – a popular wiki hosting platform. Over the summer they brought me on the project as an interaction and visual designer. And just last month we let the redesign loose to a passionate community of select users. Our redesign effort concentrated on making the experience of using a wiki, where a community of users contribute the content, easier. It’s still too early to judge if we accomplished our goal of attracting a larger audience, helping them discover content, and engaging them as editors. However, after a couple weeks, the reactions that we are getting from users are encouraging and we’re excited to continue improving the site.