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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out our new website The Better Mixer for an up to date list of the best ginger beers. You’ll also be able to leave your own rating, write a glowing review, or rant for the world to see.
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.
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).