This is the sixth installment of our team’s (Allison, Laura, Michelle) project for our Studio and Ideation class. This project builds on the research we did with gig economy workers last Fall, which you can read about here and here.
After feedback from last week, we decided to dedicate ourselves fully to Vouch, a service that makes it simple for friends and family to lend money and build trust. In Vouch’s current state, it’s primarily used as a simple method to get both lenders and borrowers on the same page. We heard in our research that loans between friends and family are often messy when terms are not decided upfront.
With Vouch, both borrowers and lenders can quickly fill out a form to determine the loan amount, interest rate, payback schedule, and any other options like equity or collateral. Vouch serves as a point of truth. One of our main design principles is for Vouch to inform and foster connection, but not mediate.
Our primary goal for this week is to bring the idea to life as an MVP and validate whether this concept has legs to take us into Q4.
Our progress this week
Built out our website including a landing page and two pages.
- We revisited our value props and focused on transparent terms, simple reminders, and shared loan tracking. You can see the entire website here: www.vouchmoney.org.
Created forms to serve as our customer intake.
- Created a diagram of the user types that our product can serve to think through on-boarding flows.
- Using Typeform, we created conversational forms that allow both borrowers and lenders to easily disclose the terms of the loan. This is our on-boarding mechanism for Vouch users.
- See for yourself: Form for Borrowers, Form for Lenders
- We hypothesize that borrowers will be our primary audience, but we wanted to build out both flows and test to validate that assumption.
Drafted a System Diagram to show user touchpoints.
- Our system diagram quickly shows how little the user has to do. One of our goals was to keep things clear and simple for users.
Built out our communications flow, copy and visual assets.
- Terms editing, reminders, and payment confirmation all happen through text or email, so we drafted responses for our eight possible flows.
- Read our copy
- We also created visualizations of the repayment process that can be included in communication with borrowers and lenders.
Posted to Craigslist and other forums to find customers.
Reached out to friends and family to recruit customers.
Insights & Feedback
We did a few talk aloud exercises as users walked through the lender forms for new and existing loans. The purpose of the talk aloud was to capture immediate, instinctive feedback. We asked questions about what felt good and clear, what gave pause or hesitation, whether they saw value in the service, and whether they would recommend the service to someone else.
What do you like about the service?
- “I like the idea that you take the anguish part of it out of the lender. Vouch would be cushioning the blow.”
- “What I really, really like about this app is that you’ll do the reminding. Because I’ll either be ignored or hear excuses.”
- “It shows me I got to be stricter about my expectations. Because I don’t set up any expectations, I don’t set up any plans.”
- “Neat, clean, clear, simple. I like that it’s not a whole lot of information. Or too glitzy or whatever.”
- “Getting this to college students who I would think, off and on, would be borrowing money – ‘Okay Mom and Dad I found this thing called Vouch – let’s do it this way.’ Working from the opposite end to attract boomers to it. Having the borrower approach shows initiative, responsibility.”
Would you recommend this service to anyone else?
- “My friends – we don’t talk about money that we loan to our kids. Usually it’s a very private thing between people… It would be so rare that I would tell anybody about it.”
- “I think it lays it out clearly – the things that could be discussed – to protect everybody and to keep on good terms so that both of you are on the same page with the borrowing and the lending. Not everyone wants to borrow money but this must make it more comfortable for them knowing there are standards and expectations that are clear.”
Notes on language
- “Being on the same page is a manner of speech that we understand, but is a colloquialism that is culturally specific.”
- “What’s the name of the person – kind of casual. Maybe that’s on purpose to be friendly but in all my professional writing I’ve never used contraction. I thought oh, maybe this isn’t so professional. That flashed in my mind.”
We received feedback that the terms could include more room to articulate the flexibility and understanding that often exists with this type of loan.
- “If you miss a payment, how would that work? How would it know if you didn’t pay me for a couple months or I knew you were in dire straits?”
- “I can’t just look at things as cut and dry. I look at situations.”
- “Repayment to family gets put behind things that are more important – it’s easy to get pushed aside because we’d be understanding.”
There was a suggestion for a pause and resume option, affording the borrower time to get back on track. Flexibility and understanding is partly why we borrow among friends and family. Due to the intimate nature of these loans, folks are often well aware of the situation or struggle a borrower may be in – highlighting that help extends well beyond the cash assistance. How can we adequately represent this moving forward?
For our last week of Q3, we want to edit our sales deck to be a really tight, succinct pitch for Vouch. We’d also like to gain real users (not just friends and family) and hopefully — get a few success stories. Lastly, because our goal is to get borrowers and lenders on the same page, we want to design a terms sheet that is simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. User feedback will help us iterate on how best to visually represent the terms so we’re eager to get this in play.