Applying for a home loan – transforming frustration into efficiency

In 2017, Embrace Home Loans realized their online mortgage application was outdated, confusing, and causing valuable time to be lost for Loan Officers and customers’ frustration. The process was so cumbersome that Loan Officers had to assist customers over the phone.

The goal was to turn the application into a marketable, standalone app, generating new revenue streams and keeping the company competitive in the market.

My role

As the sole UX designer on the project, I took the lead in problem discovery, strategy, research, and UX/UI design. I collaborated with cross-functional teams including stakeholders from marketing, legal, IT, and loan officers to identify the problem and gather insights through interviews and field studies.

I developed a UX strategy and executed on it by developing wireframes and UI designs, incorporating branding and messaging guidance from the marketing director and a writer. My final UX/UI design was put to the test through usability testing with real users.

To bring my design to life, I also developed a clickable prototype in html/javascript and used it as an interactive prototype for user testing.

Partnering with Key Stakeholder – a collaborative approach

By engaging with key stakeholders, I gained a comprehensive understanding of their business challenges and desired outcomes. Together, we assessed potential risks, established aligned expectations, and crafted a collective vision for the mortgage application process.

Building trust thought transparency

Strengthening collaboration by sharing my methods and plans with stakeholders, I established a strong collaboration and a willingness to participate in brainstorming and discussing possibilities. This approach fostered a transparent, comfortable environment and solidified partnerships.

The Discovery Phase

In the discovery phase, I conducted an audit of the existing application and home loan processes, analyzed the competitive landscape, and gathered insights on user needs, behaviors, and pain points through research. The technical discovery phase was also critical to understand feasibility, dependencies, and constraints.
My findings showed that the loan process was closely tied to Loan Officers and required direct contact before filling out the application, which was not in line with competitor models such as Rocket Mortgage. The majority of loans were also initiated through a handover from realtors. To better understand user entry points, I created a sitemap of the current website.

An audit of the existing application

An audit of the existing application

Examples of the legacy application screens

Heuristic evaluation

The design challenges were obvious, but to document the findings I conducted a heuristic evaluation with 5 expert users.

Additional findings:
The application was only developed for desktop ( not responsive)
Users were unable to save their information and had to complete the application in one sitting
The language and design did not align with the company’s branding guidelines.

A New Vision for Embrace Home Loans was formed.
The goal of the redesign was to:
Make the process of completing the mortgage application enjoyable and manageable by incorporating fun language and interactions
Provide relevant information based on the persona and streamline the content to align with corporate guidelines and avoid industry jargon
Offer helpful explanations if legal language is unavoidable
Keep the user informed of their application progress
Minimize errors and clearly indicate how to fix them if they occur
Offer a simple navigation structure
Provide undo/redo functionality
Keep user’s progress saved for later
Make it accessible on all devices