The Yellow Submarine

    Trust is a forgotten currency. With regards to the exchange of value, society has moved away from a system based on virtues to a system more rigorous and quantifiable. Consequently, the focus has shifted from the system to the individual (more so the idea of it). In this process, we have forgotten the value of communities and the power they harbour in bringing change; change that matters. CRED seeks to bring back the emphasis on the idea of 'community' with a focus on a specific virtue that stitches it together: Trust.

    Our aim is to bring back the emphasis on the idea of trust; as a currency, as a symbol of a long lost virtue. Individuals whose actions and system of ethics are directed by this virtue deserve more than what is being offered to them. This became the problem statement.

    The idea to create a community of creditworthy people, a utopia of trustworthy individuals, is something Kunal had ideated over for a long time. It was definitely a challenge; to not only unify such individuals but to provide a service that would keep them coalesced was bound to be a herculean task, but it would undoubtedly change the way businesses interact with consumers. This is how CRED was born. In March, 2018.

    Our ambition as a team is to build a product that will elevate the lifestyle of our members, to reward them for their financial decisions, and wealth management. These individuals deserve to be treated differently because it is trust and the existence of creditworthy people that has allowed economies across the world to expand and prosper.

    How we would approach this was incredibly important; we wanted to push the boundaries of what a good user experience means. We built our product experience to deliver what it promises extremely well and while doing so provide the users with a delightful experience, not as an afterthought or a side effect that happened perchance but a deliberate decision to provide a seamless experience.

    It took us 5 months to craft and build the initial CRED experience that we launched on 26 Nov 2018, the response we received from our early members was encouraging but more importantly overwhelming; they were extremely kind with their feedback and patient with our faults. We expected no less - this is exactly how we imagined our members to be.

    We continued to stabilize and improve on our product performance but also recognized a need for a more cohesive and consistent product experience. We also wanted to scale up from a product that was built towards paying your bills and claiming rewards, to a product that offers more. Because it doesn't stop here; nothing great stops at a single achievement. Change is necessary because the idea is never actualized until all possibilities are exhausted. Why? Because you deserve nothing less.

What is our product philosophy?
  • 'The beginning with no past' - Convention is easy to follow and often acts as the seed of inspiration, to create a more imaginative approach. But when the idea is so ambitious that it doesn't anchor itself to any conventions nor has any references to anything built in the past or present, the idea has to chart its own course to realization. Which is why, when attempting to build a product that has never been built before, it's important to think from first principles.
  • 'Behind the scenes should happen behind the scene' - We do not believe in fail fast when it comes to improving metrics and building a great consumer experience. Experimentation should never be at the cost of the stability of an experience; the consistency of feeling while using the product is in itself a very important part of the experience. Incremental changes that address current issues while not keeping the bigger picture in mind are unfortunately a short term gain. And the problem with short term gains is that it's 'short'.
  • 'Make Art' - Functionality doesn't have to be exclusive of beauty. More importantly, beautiful things stand the test of time. We want the members to imbibe this design philosophy while using the application; simple tasks should become an experience in itself. 'Basics first. Everything else will follow' - Cred will change. We are ambitious with regards to how we want the Cred experience to be. We focussed on incredible modularity and control to be able to ship new features and experiences in the next few months that fit perfectly into the existing structure. The experience will always remain seamless. That's not all. CRED is like people's need for validation, constantly growing with time. We are working on a lot of things to make your CRED experience smooth, are in the final stages of integrating some of the most awaited features. There's a lot to do, and a lot to tell, but we will save it for the next blog.



Design

ParticleFiber & the DarkLight design language

    'Adaptability' was one of the driving schools of thought in the design process. A system that allows for rapid evolution without necessitating the need to revisit the foundation every time an upgrade is to be made. Instead, to have the foundation based on 'first principles' - an unchanging skeleton wherein future updates fit in as interlocking elements with ease.

    Our new design language is bold and suave. Every step that moves the user forward in the product experience offers an opportunity to delight the user. Our design expression is flamboyant & outgoing and those principles are reflected in our visual language, colors, iconography and motion choreography.
    All our design elements are created using simple geometric objects called 'particles' and 'fibers' and their dynamic is dictated by our motion design framework 'bolt' - which glues the process flow and transitions together. ParticleFiber widgets are modular, highly customizable and has built-in theming support. Our widgets are incredibly extensible. When the need arises, new widgets can be easily created by defining new particle + fiber + bolt glue, which is also a key component of ParticleFiber framework.



Tech

    It was very important to have frameworks that support the thought behind ParticleFiber and compliment the design language; seamless integration of new components into the core structure.
  • The framework that supports ParticleFiber
    Flexible template support The templating engine has been re-built from the ground up, to be able to compose componentry within the app, right from our internal portal. Core components like cards, CTA buttons, color, themes (dark/light), font size, text, formatting, all can be configured from the internal portal.
  • First-class context 
User Context from disparate sources are fetched, sourced & transformed to deliver the precise context (information or action).
  • Assisted Actions Framework
    The previous version of our home page was seeing immense traction and click-throughs (our conversion from the payments reminders on home screen was an astonishing 20%), while being primarily static, non-contextual and incapable of incorporating user feedback on what was showing up. As members scrolled through the feed, in the urge to find what they were looking for, they missed some cards (talking about features & announcements), which made communication tougher, as we launched more and more products.
    A survey of 1100 members who have not enabled whatsapp updates told us that 67% of them were not aware that this is available on CRED, while it being the third card on the homepage for over 2 months.

    Assisted actions make an important case for the usefulness of context based application. A product experience designed bottom-up, based on data and qualitative learnings from the user's journey across multiple product features like payments, refunds, rewards, card verification, referral, in-app rating etc. This is then showcased to the user to choose from, as a curated set of horizontally flowing cards.

Think of it as shortcuts to what you want to do right now on the app.

    We are still in the initial phases of AA, but the signs are optimistic. We see members scrolling through the cards till the end. Alerts, like "new statement available", "expiring reward" and "a payment due in the next 7 days", are seeing conversions of over 55%. Over 25% of all payments are initiated via the ABA payment card alerts. Double Click to EditDouble Click to EditDouble Click to Edit

Lifestyle

    The rewards section has been one of the most used section of the app. These rewards help upgrading the lifestyles of our members. Rewards on CRED are curated for our users to enjoy exclusive upgrades and offers from the brands they love. The “reward ranking & relevance” engine has been built based on the user's taste (looking at past redemptions of reward & category) and conflated with the current reward redemption velocity (“Trending” rewards).

    When it came to lifestyle, our biggest focus was the mechanics of how the rewards were delivered. The core insight was to deconstruct the working/moving parts of a reward, and make them available as reusable components.

    The above mechanics, combined with our new, powerful templating ParticleFiber framework, creates the immersive reward experience, which visually explains the offering better.

On the basis of the feedback received from the users, we have identified certain problem areas.  
    To solve for some of the feedback mentioned above, we have taken the one reward at a time approach (mimicking what most users now experience in most social apps) to increase engagement, introduce new formats and do justice to all the rewards offered to the user. 
    We now have the ‘mosaic’ for improved navigation through the many rewards. A single view of all the brands on the platform and ‘collections’, a small tile view of the rewards sorted by their categories. 
    We have solved for the “claimed rewards” experience by sorting the various kinds of rewards and showing the information needed to claim the reward upfront. 

New features that make you feel good 

New, streamlined onboarding

    Onboarding on CRED has always been an interesting problem for our team to solve.
We wanted to make sure that as soon as the user was onboarded, CRED would be a delight for the user. There are some elements which are unique about the CRED onboarding; users need to be eligible to become members, which is done by checking their credit score. They also need to add their credit cards to be able to use CRED to pay their bills and earn rewards. We wanted to make the experience of becoming a CRED member, completely seamless. Here is how we achieved that 

    We considered what inputs the user would be comfortable providing and not making the onboarding tedious. We were also able to solve these unique challenges with trust-inspiring design and simple input UI. Users described our onboarding as 
    In this process, we had retained certain elements which we realised could be removed while improving metrics at the same time. Yellow Submarine makes the onboarding more cohesive while solving for users to easily verify/ add more cards to CRED so that they are seamlessly integrated with the experience once onboarded. 
    A better, more contextual navigation bar We had a five-icon navigation bar in our first version of the app. Looking at the data on how our members engaged with the navigation bar, we redesigned it with the most pertinent items.
The Remote control

    Ever expanding features and additions to the app meant more features for the member to keep track of, and these were multiple, for example payments, cards, claimed rewards, CRED coins etc. The ease of access was accounted for with the remote control feature. This feature helps the member, as they can quickly view and access all that they want to know and use. Total control has never seemed so easy.
The Cards Experience

    The hub to showcase everything about your cards managed by CRED, the cards experience is built to give our members the most elegant way of knowing all about their cards. 
More control called for more information about the cards. We introduced new features to cover every aspect of the card:

Cred Scan : a view of all your past 24 statements

Cred Protect: your bill due and bill date reminders

Cred Alerts: alerts on hidden charges present in your statement

Smart Statements: a categorized format for showcasing your card spends   
    While the innovation and introduction of these features was a novel move, their rollout into the app led to an information overload for the users by cluttering the card view. The redesign had one major objective: to put the user back in control by introducing the features one by one and making the learning process more intuitive. The new concise, payment reminders keep the UI clutter free and the information is passed in bite sized ways for the members to process and understand their cards better. 
    New, improved profile

    The profile screen is where our members get to know themselves (read:: they get to know about their financial health; we can’t help our members in finding their true selves) in one glance.  
     The new profile screen is a departure from the typical “account settings”, to a more customized, and extendible “you on CRED”, that includes CRED Protect, your credit score reports and managing your linked credit cards and payment transactions. Changes that we thought were necessary for a better user experience:

    We wanted to re-think ground up, was the transaction history screen - to anticipate and provide more relevant information, while applying the ABA framework here. We have also launched real-time settlement time updates, to address the most asked question, post payments.

    In order to extend our promise of bringing transparency to the world of credit cards and reward points, we now have a fully packed CRED coins & CRED gems ledger, that shows all credits & debits in real-time. No more waiting for “30 or 60 days for these to be updated in our records”. 
    Over time, we intend to make the sequencing of sections in the profile screen more contextual, surfacing the more relevant sections on top - taxation history after the day you make a card payment, credit score when it is time for you to refresh the same, CRED Protect when a new bank integration goes live, and so on. 
    New, improved payments UX CRED has the best-in-industry payment success rates, which sets the bar high on member expectations from the product, as well as the rigor and testing that needs to happen before any new feature is added on this front. Which is why this was a special problem statement. 
    We wanted to make it easier for users to discover a payment option of their choice, while keeping in mind the foundation of the member experience: Intuitive, Reliable and Convenient - the three pillars, on which the CRED’s payment product team swears, and which take precedence over anything else.

    This called for a transition from a tab view of payment options to a vertical scroll. This enables us to categorize all payment options, recommend the best ones on the basis of your past payment behavior and make the main screen more informative - offers on certain payment modes, downtime alerts when we see low success rates (happens a lot more than you would expect), new payment modes and so on.