Mortgage Lending Platform
Borrowers traditionally rely on bankers and realtors to educate them through the process of getting a mortgage. Not so with millennials, who prefer to do things on their own. Our challenge was to build an intuitive self-service lending platform for this audience.
As a new company, vLoan relied on The Refinery to wear many hats. We worked through product conception, ideation and market feedback in a strategy session with a specialized mortgage consultant, MortgageCTO, to vet concepts and innovative new user interface concepts.
As the project progressed, we helped staff an internal development team to handle the backend loan origination system, while The Refinery focused on the user interface and marketing website.
The Refinery participated in an ideation workshop lead by the executive team and a consultant from MortgageCTO. We analyzed the way current mortgage brokers work, and their archaic technology, and explored a variety of different approaches to building a new platform. Through this exercise we sketched, talked to users, and came up with the strategic direction for the product.
Online Rate Quote
One of the key insights from the product strategy workshop was the benefits of a live rate quote calculator. This calculator would give a personalized rate quote, with live market data, to the potential borrower. It also served as an inbound marketing lead generator, as well as the first step of the loan application itself. Deemed as the epicenter of the project, we started our work by wireframing and testing this workflow.
Marketing Website Design
With the rate quote feature wireframes complete and tested with users, we proceeded next to design high fidelity concepts for the marketing website as a whole. Building upon branding concepts created by one of our partner companies, Marcus Thomas, we fleshed out a brand styleguide and content strategy. We created whimsical illustrations for each mortgage product, which really showed how unique vLoan's offering was.
Prototype of the Lending Application
A mortgage application is a daunting set of paperwork full of industry jargon. This paperwork was originally designed for a banker and realtor to understand, but with both of those roles out of the picture, we had to reconsider how to educate the user about their mortgage options. Furthermore, the process of applying for a mortgage involves gathering and inputting data from other sources (employment paperwork, bank statements, etc...) which can be demotivating.
We prototyped a completely new experience to gather the necessary content for that application, vet it, invite in co-borrowers, and handle the review process with the mortgage underwriters.
Development of Lending Application
As we moved into the technical work building the lending platform, we had to coordinate two large development efforts. Internally, the vLoan team was working on building the loan origination platform, while we worked on the user interface application. Moving quickly, in an Agile fashion, we first created a set of API mocks that defined the requirements for the two systems. Then the teams ran independently on their own projects towards those requirements. Each week we met to sync up and make adjustments to the plan based on our progress. Over several months together, we build a robust and scaleable platform to handle a large volume of incoming mortgage requests.
Development of Marketing Website
The first month after launching, the new product moved more than $60 million in new mortgages. That number continued to increase month over month, as more was invested into marketing and advertising. It has proven to be a product which disrupts the lending process by traditional banks.
The product we designed and created was successful at scale. Through continuous refinement, we made further usability and marketing updates to the website to increase conversion rates and to add additional features over time.