On March 27, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), aimed at supporting small businesses and their employees through financial hardship caused by the spread of COVID-19.
Lendio decided to participate in accepting applications for PPP loans to send to our marketplace of lenders. The problem was we had only 3 days to build a new product and truly design for a moving target, as the Small Business Association (SBA) was updating its requirements and submission form down to the last hours before accepting applicants. Every morning when we woke up from a late-nights, we had to pivot based on changes from the SBA.
Our product team split into different areas of the submission form to build. I was placed on the team responsible for educating and allowing users to upload necessary documents. The issue was that there was a long list of documents, but none of them were required. Luckily we had an existing document upload component in our application we could leverage.
Constraints & Issues
Due to COVID our normally in office company was only a couple weeks into being fully remote. We were still learning and working out the bugs to this process.
We had components to upload documents, however, they were not very customizable, and we did not have time to start from scratch.
We were not sure how long this program would be running and were unsure of how much effort to put into the design and building custom components.
There was lots of conditional logic for which documents the applicant should upload, but not enough time to build an intuitive user experience for that logic.
3 Long Days Later
After countless hours (and the SBA literally changing the document an hour before accepting applicants) our new product was live. With over 7 million visitors to our site within the first 3 days, we were ready to improve the experience on the fly. The program was only expected to last 2 weeks until funds ran out, but we wanted to do the best we could to make the application process as smooth as possible and help save small businesses everywhere.
We used Fullstory to monitor user behavior, spoke closely with our funding managers (who were speaking directly with applicants and lenders), and met with other teams to learn how our product was doing. Though we had only a couple weeks of running this first round, we still made a lot of improvements to the experience.
Valid government-issued ID
Applicants were required to upload the front and back of their driver's licenses, but a large number were only uploading the front. To help emphasize the requirements, we highlighted the text with a yellow background to draw attention. We also added two upload areas for the front and back identification images. We also separate the ID upload to its own screen to help with cognitive load. After implementing these changes, the number of these issues drastically dropped.
Lender preferred documents
There was a long list of acceptable documents that varied based on the applicant's business, but none of them were required. After some time we learned what lenders preferred and added badges to highlight these documents.
Checkbox for documents to upload
Documents were being uploaded without labels and our internal funding team was spending hours identifying what was uploaded. To speed up this process we added checkboxes for the applicant to select what documents they were uploading and populating labeled upload areas.
“Lendio had an incredibly easy and straightforward application for the Paycheck Protection Program. It took less than 15 minutes.”
“The application process was easy to understand and initiate. Uploading supporting documents was seamless, and a quick response was greatly appreciated”
“Best UX of any PPP related site by far. Nice work Brock.”
It appears they were able to get my PPP loan through. They saved my company and the livelihoods of 30-40 great families Thank you”
“The team at Lendio were fantastic. The application process was very simple and clearly explained all documentation needed to complete the process”
80% of users completed the application
70,000+ small businesses were approved for the first round of PPP
$5.8 Billion in funding relief for small business owners and their employees
Millions of jobs were saved
This was the most stressful project I have ever been a part of but easily the most rewarding project as well. Not only did we build a great product that millions of people interacted with, but we helped provide relief to millions of small businesses and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What I learned from this unusual project:
Our company working remotely was a benefit for this project because it caused us to over-communicate.
You don’t always have time for high fidelity mockups. Design the most responsible level of fidelity and work accordingly. Even if it’s just a zoom call with a developer and designing in code.
Development constraints are never a reason to give up. This is when it’s really time to get creative.
I would have liked to push my opinion sooner to help out our funding managers by labeling all documents.
This really bonded and strengthened our product and development team relationships.