Financial Empowerment Program


Financial Empowerment Non-Profit



[Client name redacted] I really wanted to work with an organization directly geared toward social impact, and I found one financial institution that was looking to improve the user flow of one their own programs used during client intakes. I kicked off a full UX project for this non-profit financial institution which works with NYC residents by giving them free financial counseling (sign me up, anyone?).

Working alongside the client, I conducted user interviews, user research, and usability tests. I built redesigns of the program they use to provide counselors with a more intuitive flow.

Social impact: This organization’s mission really speaks to me as one who’s purpose is to support members of vulnerable communities. One of the nation’s leading providers of financial empowerment services and products, the mission of this client is to empower low-income individuals to become productive participants in the U.S. financial system and achieve their financial goals.

The Problem

  • The current flow for the organization’s counselors takes too long

  • The layout of the program on SalesForce is clunky

Target Users

The users for this project are the counselors who work at the organization. The counselors work with their own clients who are financially vulnerable NYC residents hoping to achieve stronger financial statuses.

The Challenge

The challenge for me with this project was that I was working on a product, Salesforce, that already had built-in design experiences that could only be changed so much. With that, I did not have access to the person in charge of the organization’s Salesforce layout. So, it was important for me to be as clear as possible when making recommendations for the Salesforce manager to see.

My Role

UX Designer | User Researcher
User Interviews, Personas (financial organization employee user & financial organization), Prototyping, Visual Mockups, Usability testing


Platform: Salesforce Type: Software Length: 3 months


User Persona

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.30.13 PM.png

I interviewed 4 employees at the organization to determine who a typical user of their software is. They were all financial counselors who use the site to compile information for their clients.

For this persona, Jennifer, I also wrote out a scenario so we (myself and the organization) could keep a user’s average experience with the software in mind as I redesigned a better journey for them.

Note: “Pathways” refers to the software the organization uses within SalesForce.

Organizational Persona?

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.30.58 PM.png

You got it!

This was a first for me, but this client wanted a persona of organizations like theirs. I liked this task as it helped me focus on not only the people who would be using the new intake process, but the organizations as well. Having the organizational persona also allowed us to look at how the redesign of the intake process would affect the organization as a whole.

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.31.29 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.31.44 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.32.01 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.33.09 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.33.24 PM.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.33.39 PM.png

Knowing how long a process will take gives users a sense of calm as well as control. The intake process the financial organization is using should be organized into a palatable progress bar visible to both the interviewer (financial advisor) and interviewee (the clients). Instead of the 13 pages that the financial advisor can’t keep track of, the process could easily be broken down into just 6 categories and made visible to both parties in the intake process. The users are very important here. They are professionals at work with many tasks and meetings to complete during the workday, of which this product is a part of. The other users are the clients who come to these financial advisors. These clients are financially vulnerable and therefore have many responsibilities they are in charge of and that must be taken care of during their days. All of these users (the financial advisors are clients) are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.34.00 PM.png

I broke down each of the categories with a page-by-page breakdown (above) that were currently part of the intake process to sort, prioritize and show the client exactly what steps would go in each heading of the progress bar. I designed a mockup (below) of how one screen would look with the progress bar. The addition of a progress bar would keep the counselors and possibly the clients aware of where they are in the intake process without feeling lost or overwhelmed.

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 1.34.21 PM.png

Next Steps

By the end of this project, the following questions must be considered:

  • More usability testing: How do clients and advisors respond to the new layout?

  • Why does the organization need to have the credit report authorization upfront?

  • Where are other possibilities to pull the credit report instead of a third of the way into the Pathways intake process?

  • Could pulling the credit report take place after setting goals, or immediately before?

  • How do the financial counselors’ clients feel about the current intake process?

It is also important to know if the computer screens are visible to the clients as the counselors fill in the intake information.

If the clients are following along, it is important to tend to the clients’ experiences during this process. What are their frustrations, motivations, and where are opportunities for growth? Talking about finances is difficult for many and even more for people with financial vulnerabilities. Cleaning up the intake process for the clients especially will make a less daunting experience for the organization’s clients. Not only will doing so make solving their financial problems easier, but it will allow them to provide their services to even more people in need.

To continue this project, I need to observe an intake process between a financial advisor and their client. I also must conduct user research on the advisors’ clients and get a better sense of their backgrounds (a day in the life, their needs, wants, frustrations) and feelings about the intake process.