Working with Intuit
In the winter of 2018, as a part of a service design class, I was given the opportunity to work with Intuit on a project to engage millennials with Intuit products. My team of four was tasked with exploring homeownership, looking to see how Intuit’s landscape could encourage young people to consider homeownership in their finances.
Where to start?
Going into the project, my team and I knew almost nothing about homeownership. As college students ourselves, the concept of owning a home seemed daunting and far away. So we started with our own emotions about homeownership to explore how others might view it. This meant interviewing a variety of stakeholders.
What insights, among others, did we want to gain from stakeholders?
When does the process of homeownership begin?
How much do potential buyers know about homeownership?
Where does this education come from?
What other financial factors play in to homeownership?
What emotions are there about the process?
After interviewing homeowners, realtors, young professionals and even bankers involved in the space, we conducted even further research. We explored the competitive landscape, diving into companies like SoFi, Rocket Mortgage and others, and conducted extensive interviews with young professionals aged 20-29.
What we found from these interviews is that:
100% of participants stated they would like to own a home some day.
only 2 in 10 participants had started planning for homeownership.
95% of participants stated that their education has not prepared them for homeownership.
One quote that especially stuck out to us was:
“That’s too far in the future to even think about.”
— from a young professional, aged 22
What did this tell us?
That young people are not actively planning for homeownership.
Narrowing it down…
From out research, we created two personas who were representative of the stakeholders we had interviewed. We put ourselves in the shoes of:
Sally Saver, the young professional who saves, but doesn’t know for what, and
Winona Wife, who has the means to begin buying a home but doesn’t know the best way to begin.
These personas helped us to identify two specific pain points involved in homeownership:
Building and understanding credit score
Applying for a mortgage loan
After exploring the journey maps and emotions of our two personas, we boiled our findings down three overarching themes that we felt encompasses the biggest pain points:
Educating future homebuyers
Preparing long-term for homeownership
Stressing over a mortgage loan
Within each of these themes, we explored our top three insights that led us to our opportunity for design:
How might we empower young professionals to take control of their emotions about homeownership?
Were we trying to re-imagine the home buying process?
Were we trying to educate people about homeownership?
Ultimately, we found that we needed a way to turn education into a plan and action, and we needed a way to do this that would fit into Intuit’s landscape.
Our solution: Safe
What is Safe?
Safe is a feature of Mint, Intuit’s’ pre-existing budget app. It intakes a user’s preferences to determine first if a user should buy or continue to rent. Then, it creates a “mood board” of potential homes in different price points and sets up a personalized plan to help you save for that goal. It tells users how long it will take to achieve that goal, and updates to keep up with market changes and unpredictable life events.
Below find a walkthrough of the process.
*Numbers not to accuracy.
Why did we chose Safe?
What we found after thorough investigation is that people do not want to be pushed into homeownership, but instead want helping understanding and planning for it in a way that works for them.
The key here was finding a way to personalize the process, to help people find a way that buying a home could fit into their plan. We wanted users to be able to see their different options, to understand that there are different paths to homeownership, and to understand the reasons behind those options.
We found that giving people this sort of choice and agency in the process helped to tackle some of the fears people have about homeownership, as well as demystify the process. In showing the rational behind each calculation and buying option, people were able to let go of their anxieties about homeownership and instead see exactly what their money was going towards. These two ideas – transparency and agency – carried us through the design process as we tried to make a solution that was accessible, open and mindful of user’s emotions.
What did I learn in this process?
Firstly, that homeownership is a HARD.
Secondly, that I might want to do it someday! Which I never thought I would.
But more importantly, this project gave me the time to deeply consider emotions and empathy.
Finances are already a hard thing to talk about. Going through user testing for this project, I had to manage real emotions about homeownership. Some people were upset by it – one user was deeply hurt by her home buying process in which she was scammed into a much higher mortgage than anticipated. Some were indifferent – their parents helped them to buy a home. But more than anything, especially from the young people we interviewed, there was simply anxiety and fear – worries about finances, finding a job with a steady, stable income, or even feeling independent. It surprised me how questions about strictly financial things could stir up such raw emotion and how much this then poured into our project. The hardest part of the process was finding a way to account for these emotions within our design, which I think in the end we were able to do. Experiencing all these things allowed me to really pour myself into the project, and I do think this project is what really sparked my love and desire to continue with design.
I also now feel more prepared to take on my own finances, which was a fun little side effect of this project. Thanks Intuit!