Kiva: User Onboarding Flow

Pioneering an onboarding experience to help users find and support causes they care about.


Client: Kiva

Role: product designer, user researcher, content designer

Timeline: June 2020 - August 2020

Deliverable: landing page designs, primary research, research insights


Kiva is a non-profit organization that allows people to lend money to low-income entrepreneurs and students in 77 countries. Kiva's mission is "to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive."

After working on a UX research project for Kiva in the spring of 2020, I had the opportunity to join Kiva as a product design intern on the onboarding product team. I worked a variety of projects, but my main focus was reimagining user onboarding through a redesigned landing page and onboarding flow.

In this case study, I designed Kiva's first onboarding flow as a product experiment.


This experiment tackled the same business problem as the landing page redesign I headed, so there's some similarity in the context/business problem of the case study and user research.

The Problem

Kiva's homepage was experiencing high traffic but low conversion rates (that is, a user funding a loan on

More importantly, the landing page was a pain point for many users. Last semester, I conducted user research into Kiva's landing page, and concluded (among other insights) that users did not understand Kiva or its value proposition and did not feel incentivized to use the product on the landing page. Users also faced decision paralysis when choosing who to loan to.

To solve the low conversion rate and the various pain points, I led the design of a user onboarding flow experiment. Users would go through a step-by-step form that simultaneously collects their lending preferences and implicitly teaches them about Kiva along the way. After selecting their preferences, they’ll then see a curated list of loans with options to explore further.


How might we design a personalized, informative onboarding experience for new Kiva users?


I relied on existing user research to inform my design process I had conducted a few months ago due to time constraints and the fact this was an experimental design exploration. However, I naturally would have preferred to do research before hand.

Here are relevant insights from previous ethnographic and usability research.

People want to support causes that resonate with their personal experiences and values.
The landing page does not communicate to new users what Kiva is, how it works, and why it’s special
For many, it is very difficult to choose a loan because there are so many lending opportunities.

I considered these insights when designing the personalized onboarding flow.


After I was assigned the project, I brainstormed with a team of product managers, data scientists, and product designers. The vision behind the onboarding flow interaction was that users would learn about Kiva explicitly and implicitly — through copy during the flow (explicitly) and through their interactions (implicitly). For example, by allowing users to select causes they care about, they'd implicitly learn that Kiva supports a variety of categories. I adopted this strategic vision for the design into my wireframes and iterations.

To enter the onboarding wizard, I envisioned an easy point of entry on the landing page below the fold.


I initially wireframed a screen in the onboarding flow that would briefly explain Kiva to users. I later removed this screen because it was unnecessary and time-consuming for users.


Users can choose causes they want to loan to, while concurrently learning about the breadth of Kiva's social impact.


Users can choose regions of the world they care about while also implicitly learning about Kiva's global reach.


Kiva loans are repaid at various time intervals, so I initially included a loan repayment screen in the flow. However, I removed this screen from my final design because users likely care about doing and feeling good off the bat — not necessarily technical/logistical information.

When users complete the onboarding wizard, they receive loan recommendations.

Iterating + Feedback

I ended up simplifying the onboarding flow to encompass what matters most to users — an easy, personalized experience, free of unnecessary confusing jargon. For that reason, I eliminated the introductory onboarding and loan repayment screens from the wireframe.

I began several rounds of iteration and received feedback — here are a few.


While this screen was certainly playful, it presented a cognitive overload for users. Details like the photo icons weren't clearly visible. The blobs were off-brand; the copy was generic and unhelpful.


The overall visual design was strong, but it was unclear the how much users would utilize the "All" and "Popular" labels — perhaps, to simplify, if would be more helpful to include simply a search bar.


The intention behind this screen was to educate users about how Kiva works and also provide a call-to-action. The thinking behind the design was thoughtful, but it lacked strong visual design or direction.

Validation + Research

To ensure my design solved a user need, I conducted 5 usability tests to quickly validate my design direction via After sharing these insights with stakeholders, I then took into consideration these insights in order to finalize the high fidelity design.

Affinity Mapping


Sample Insights


High Fidelity Design

After receiving feedback from users and stakeholders, I converged on a onboarding flow design best described as simple — simple copy, simple graphics, and simple interactions — in order to deliver the best user experience without unnecessary confusion.


The goal of the onboarding flow was to educate users about Kiva and also provide personal recommendations. I worked with Kiva's content strategist to craft human-centered, easy-to-understand copy, shown on the left. This copy would explicitly teach Kiva about its value proposition and how it works. The ability to select icons on the right would implicitly educate users about Kiva's breadth of social causes to lend to.


I simplified the experience by removing some of the category filters in the initial iterations. I helped create copy that would explain to users how Kiva works explicitly. Users would also learn more about Kiva's global reach by exploring the wide range of countries on the right side of the screen.


I designed special borrower cards for this page that highlights why this loan is special to help personalize each borrower's story and engender a call to action, as well as cleaning up the design visually. I also included a module describing how the loan process works to continue to help educate users about Kiva, in addition to easy access to FAQ's. Here, users would gain more specific information on how Kiva works as well as an idea of who to loan to. This would help alleviate users' decision paralysis and provide personalization (insights from prior research).


During my user research consulting project, my team recommended that Kiva develop some sort of onboarding flow. Being able to create design concepts for a future onboarding flow was extremely rewarding and insightful. Through the rounds of iteration, I learned to consider every design element in a human-centered and intentional manner.