Taking distill an desktop loan interaction model to its core functionality in a mobile environment.

Background

My team was consulted by Quicken Loans to do a comprehensive evaluation of their newly launched mobile-optimized site. This process began with a sit-down with Quicken Loans mobile site product team at their offices in Detroit, Michigan, to get a full view of potential users of the site and clear goals of the product and our project from the client. Our client was extremely enthusiastic to provide us with information and resources, leading us to a great start to our project.

Sitemap Development

Our first step in evaluation the Quicken Loans mobile site was to develop a full-bodied interaction map outlining the major areas of the mobile site. We employed Adobe Illustrator to develop a graphical system that best fit the layout of the Mobile site. Major areas of the site are outlined in colored boxes, with arrows indicating direction of links. The layout of the interaction map represents the flow from the landing screen to the various areas, to subpages. A full-color version was printed to help our team moving forward with the investigation process.

User Interviews

After a number of team discussion sessions, we were able to narrow down potential users of the Quicken mobile site. A comprehensive interview plan was developed to collect demographic, financial, and technological experience from these users for the purposes of developing communicative personas. We contacted these users through e-mail for the purposes of interviews, scheduled these interviews, and conducted six interviews from the potential pool. These interviews generally lasted between thirty-minutes and an hour, followed by a team debrief session where interview notes were turned into affinity-note format for the purpose of developing design suggestions, informing team members, refining the interview plan, and finding themes across interviews.

Personas and Scenarios

These interviews were instrumental in providing detailed information on potential users’ experience goals, life goals, and product goals. These goals were bucketed in a manner consistent to the research findings to develop three full-bodied personas. These personas serve as reminders across teams of the unique needs and desires of target users, uniting teams in communication and helping in later stages of development. These personas were coupled with scenarios for each persona, potential interactions each persona might have with an idealized-version of the site. These scenarios serve to inspire design and development, and tease out areas for further investigation.

Comparative Analysis

Comparative analysis was performed on a number of Quicken Loans competators in the analogous, partial, direct and indirect spaces. Organizations were weighted against the offering of the Quicken Loans mobile site in hopes of finding useful design elements and information provided on other sites that Quicken Loans could incorporate in future design iterations. Findings and recommendations were weighted on severity and presented in a comprehensive report.

Heuristic Evaluation

The research team then completed a full evaluation of the Quicken Loans mobile site, judging the site on design, navigation, information provided, dynamic interactions and more. Nielsen’s ten design heuristics were used as guiding factors for developing our own personal set of heuristics, combined with Quicken Loans mobile stated business goals, previous user research and the unique nature of the mobile space. Researchers completed individual evaluations before decompressing them together in group sessions, towards developing a comprehensive report for the client.

Surveying

A survey was developed and distributed to over three-hundred respondents, attempting to gauge preferences for mobile site interactions, desired information for loan and refinancing, as well technology ownership and use. The reserach team developed and implemented the survey in Qualtrics, distributed invitiations, as well as ran quantitative analysis on data afterwards, including chi-squared tests and cross-tabulations for relevant demographics.

Usability Tests

The research team developed a comprehensive set of usability tasks and a usability test script to perform five user tests of the Quicken Loans mobile site. Pre and post questionaires were devloped, in addition to an extensive debrief, to further gather data. Usage was logged and coded according to codebooks set up by the research team and best practice standards. The usage test was aimed at target users of the site, and invitiations and recruiting was executed with this target demographic. This data was compiled into a set of useful findings a recommendations for the client.

Conclusion

This project was a great chance to work with a terrific client, the Quicken Loans mobile development team, while also getting an indepth look at the problems and difficulties of reserach and devloping for the mobile environment. With all reserach, a multi-method approach is the best way to find solid pain-points and develop useful recommendations for any application or system. The multi-method approach taken here found numerous studies lining up to point to key recommendations. A final presentation with summarized findings and key recommendations was presented to Quicken Loans, and we hope that they incorporate some of these developments into the next iteration of their mobile site. Overall, it was an extremely useful and interesting process.