If you had to, could you quickly locate your financial statements, wills and powers of attorney, trusts, insurance policies, tax returns, or instructions for your end-of-life wishes? More importantly, would your spouse or partner know where to look if something were to happen to you? It’s questions like these that lead Josh Leavitt and Chris Orebaugh to create ZokuVault, a cloud-based platform that let’s you safely store, share, and organize all of your family’s important documents and information in one place.
The majority of ZokuVault's users, however, were not actually uploading any documents or information into their vault. This realization is what prompted Josh and Chris to solicit my team’s help in answering the following question:
How do we convince users to upload their family’s important documents and information to ZokuVault?
We started by conducting usability tests with the existing product. I personally designed and moderated these tests, being careful to both observe users interacting with the product as well understand the reasoning behind their actions.
After mapping out what our users were doing and thinking on each screen, we identified three major pain points that prevented them from uploading items into their vault.
By the end of our initial round of product testing, we realized that we were dealing with a messaging problem. If we wanted our users to upload all of their family’s sensitive information into ZokuVault, we had to do a better job of answering the following user questions:
For our initial concept sketches, we decided to create three distinct concepts, one for each question we needed to answer. Our first concept addressed the question of “What if I don’t want to share my entire vault with someone?” We based this concept on the premise that we should treat ZokuVault like a home safe. Users would never give their accountant the keys to their home safe, so why would we ask them to give them the keys to their ZokuVault? They would, however, give their spouse a spare key to their safe if something were to happen to them.
Our second concept addressed the question of “Why should I upload any of this? What's the point?" We based this concept on the premise that our users didn’t buy their house to keep stuff in it, they bought it to raise their family. Our users, likewise, didn’t sign up for ZokuVault just to store their files, they did it to make sure their family would have everything they would need after they were gone.
Our third and final concept addressed the question of “How do I get started and what do I do next?” We based this concept on the premise that choice is not always a good thing. Our goal here was to minimize cognitive load as much as possible by walking users through the process one step at a time.
The core ideas behind each of these concepts really resonated with our users as well as our clients during testing. There were, however, a few additional questions that we had not yet considered:
Privacy is great, but what about data security?
Users were no longer concerned with their advisor seeing something they shouldn’t. They were, however, concerned about a hacker or third-party company gaining access to their sensitive data.
Is this just an end-of-life planning product?
While the users we talked to understood the value of gathering everything their successor would need in the event of their death, our clients were concerned that this narrow use case would limit the size of their potential user base.
Why is ZokuVault asking for these kinds of documents?
There were several instances in which users did not understand why their successor would need a particular piece of information or document such as a copy of their driver’s license.
With concept testing complete, we knew we were on the right track by creating a step-by-step onboarding flow that gave users a reason to use the product while alleviating any concerns over privacy. But before merging our concepts together into a single cohesive experience, we had to address these three issues.
As the most experienced storyteller on the team, the time had come for me to put my persuasive writing skills to work. I started with the task of convincing users to trust ZokuVault with their most sensitive data.
In an effort to broaden the potential user base, we went back to our initial round of research and identified additional use cases for a product like ZokuVault. I then put myself in the shoes of the user and wrote out three first-person answers to the question of “What would you like to do first?”
Unfortunately, we did not have enough to time to build out a separate onboarding flow for each of these use cases. Given that many of ZokuVault’s users were referred to the service by their estate planners, we decided to focus on the “protect my family’s legacy” flow. After speaking with several subject matter experts and looking to other estate planning products such as EverPlans for inspiration, I created a comprehensive list of everything your family would need in the event of your death and why they would need it.
With all of this new copy, we now had an answer to the questions that mattered most. I had addressed the major concerns over privacy and security. I had given users three distinct end goals for setting up their vault and explained what they needed to upload and why in order to achieve those goals. However, we lacked a narrative structure to bind all of this content together. It was at this point that I assumed the role of UX architect. I started by quickly sketching out the key screens of what would become our final prototype. I then drew lines between the screens to indicate the order in which they should flow.
Because our research suggested that users were unlikely to enter any information (even the name of beneficiary) until they were sure that data would be safe, I decided that the screen addressing security concerns should be the very first thing users see after logging in. I then mapped out the rest of the onboarding flow with a research note below each screen explaining when it should appear and why.
After getting an overview of what lies ahead and adding a co-owner to their account, users were asked to select a category and upload just the items in that category rather than upload everything at once. Based on the testing results of our “empowerment through direction” concept, we were confident that this strategy of breaking down the uploading process into categories with smaller substeps would make the experience less overwhelming overall. However, we still had to figure out what those categories were. After conducting an open card sort in which users were asked to sort the 32 items they would need into categories, we decided to create the following six category flows:
With our flow maps complete, we finally had the structure we needed to tell a coherent story and address the concerns of our users without losing them along the way.
When it comes to storytelling as it applies to the digital realm, language and structure are only half the battle. In order to bring our onboarding story to life, we had to focus our attention on the visual and interactive elements. It was at this point that I brought my skills as a motion graphic designer to bear and created a visually engaging prototype using a combination of Axure RP and After Effects.
After a final round of user testing, it was clear that there was still more work to be done. Trust, for example, was still an issue for many users. However, our results did indicate that users were more likely to upload items into ZokuVault with our onboarding flow in place. In the end, that was enough to satisfy our clients and convince them to implement the key aspects of our designs in the latest product release.
Looking back on this project always brings a smile to face. Just knowing that your designs are out there in front of real users is a great feeling. Furthermore, this project was an incredible opportunity to not only showcase my skills as a UX designer, but also my skills as a visual storyteller. Thanks again to our clients Chris and Josh for believing in us and thanks to you for reading!