CROWDSLICE

DELIVERABLES

  • Competitive analysis (features)
  • Personas
  • Customer Journey Map (investor side)
  • Brand Identity
  • Style Tile
  • Style Guide
  • Lo-fi & Hi-fi Wireframes
  • Mock-up Screens
  • Clickable Prototype

THE ASK

Equity crowdfunding for non-accredited investors, i.e. anyone, will soon become legal in the US. As part of a bootcamp project, we designed an online platform where investors can browse and invest in startups in exchange for equity. The timeframe was three weeks, from initial research to hi-fidelity mockups. Our team consisted of three members (me and a fellow UX designer, and a UI designer) and we worked in an Agile workflow following the Google Design Sprint methodology.

RESEARCH

We began by familiarizing ourselves with the basic structure of startup funding and how it differs from traditional investing. One of the challenging yet exciting aspects of this project was that since it’s a new law, there are no platforms offering this service thus far (the law goes into effect in May). Therefore we examined similar platforms and a couple of overseas companies since this service is already legal in some European countries. Having done so, I completed a competitive analysis of features to better understand how we could differentiate ourselves from and surpass the others.

It was then time to conduct user research. We neeed to speak to both potential and experienced investors and find out where they were in relation to such a platform. Some of the key questions we asked were: Is startup investing of interest to you in the first place? What are the pain points in the process? What would you like to see in such a platform? We then sent out Google surveys to both potential investors and entrepreneurs and also conducted Skype interviews after recruiting from our personal networks and individuals in the tech incubator in which our project was based. The interviews were very illuminating and we managed to identify several key goals and concerns of both investors and entrepreneurs regarding such a platform.

SYNTHESIS

From this data, I created two personas. While Harry (the ‘entrepreneur persona’) would ultimately prove redundant, Jeff fit the type of user we anticipated. Since it’s equity crowdfunding for startups is such a new field, it would not have the appeal even of a Wealthfront or a Lendingclub. Therefore, and following our research, we found our target audience to be a late 20s-40s tech-savvy urban professional. It is this type of persona that is most likely to comprise the ‘early adopter’ user that will use the platform.

The personas drove home the fact that our principle target user, the enthusiastic but inexperienced (at least in startup investment) investor, lacked the knowledge and experience needed to successfully enter and navigate the fairly sophisticated world of investing in a startup. This led to a clear problem statement:

 

Currently, potential investors do not understand the process of investing in startups enough to make educated decisions.

 

Understanding how the other side of the equation (the startups) would approach the platform was also part of the brief to begin with, and the Customer Journey Map we created helped identify key pain points and opportunities.

The client updated their brief, however, and decided they wanted to focus only on the investor-facing side of the platform to begin with. Taking the insights from our research data and personas, our design principles presented themselves clearly at this stage. Our platform needed to be:

  • Educational – users should feel guided through the process at every step, and have access to a wealth of graded educational materials.
  • Secure – meeting the highest standards of fraud and liability protection.
  • Transparent – This is a new type of investment for the general public, which explains why the research showed that the entire process needed to be demystified greatly.
  • Open – accessible to everyone regardless of income status.

After working out the details of our business model, we created two sets of wireframes and performed user testing to see which fared better. As time was so limited, we combined A/B testing with general testing so that after selcting which wireframe to develop, we would also be able to implement the first round of iterations based on user feedback.

Testing showed that wireframe B scored higher and we selected that to move forward with. The results brought home three key areas needing attention:

  1. Users were concerned about security, and entering financial information while being logged in through a social media account.
  2. Although they responded positively to the learning section, all users stated that they wanted the videos to be shorter.
  3. The checkout process was considered too ‘fun’ and not in line with expectations of an investment transaction.

We went back and produced some mid-fidelity mockups putting all the solutions into effect and conducted a second round of user testing which pointed to additional fixes.

We were then ready to pass our wireframes to our UI designer who worked on the main screens for an investment flow. Meanwhile, we worked more on our branding. I proposed an idea incorporating the word ‘slice’, since a slice of the pie in the respective startups is exactly what is on offer to investors. We eventually settled on Crowdslice, which has the added benefit of being used as a verb.

Top: sketching out branding and logo ideas. Middle: Having gone with “Crowdslice”, our UI designer then came up with some logo ideas. Bottom: the final design.

THE FUTURE

Although the project was a great demonstration of the amount of ground one can cover in three weeks, Crowdslice was very much a learning process and the final product needs further iterations and rounds of testing before being released. Our final user testers all remarked how much the platform had improved since the initial wireframe, and I remain keen to be part of its continued evolution if the client wishes to revisit the product in the future.

 

Click here for the inVISION Prototype