PayPal Business App

APP DESIGN RETROSPECTIVE (2017 - 2020)

PayPal Business is a native app that helps 1.2 million small business owners across the globe review and control their sales operations at PayPal: Send invoices, view the progress of their sales, get in touch with customers when disputes arise, track their business loans and review transactions.

Role

My role was as an IC design lead. I created a vision and framework to position the Business App as a payment destination for small business on-the-go, while also overseeing and coaching a junior designer on best practices.

I collaborated with two project managers, a researcher, and 16 mobile engineers on iOS and Android platforms.

This retrospective shows snippets of work I did during 3 years with the team. If you're curious about specific details, I'd be happy to talk.

Design operations and research

With the help of my manager, I put in place the design operation process for a team of two, that included  a centralized file system, documentation to track historical changes and a sprint planning site that me and my design partner updated every two weeks to keep work transparent.

I led my team to create a research-informed design practice. We tested designs bi-weekly using a variety of techniques like interviews, card sorting or prototype testing, involving product managers and engineers into the process of asking questions and debriefing.

In just a year, my team had conducted more user research studies than any other at the company, and engineers and product managers were invested in the process.

Mentoring and team building

Being a Lead Designer on my team meant also elevating the craft of associate and intern designers. I used paired design to be a sounding board for their work and give them resources to improve their designs. I assigned them projects that stretched their capabilities and helped them unblock initiatives in conflict by fostering dialogue with stakeholders.

Starting small: Visual refresh and pattern library

One of the first, and most basic goals I had for the app was to create alignment with PayPal for web.

I reduced the number of font variations we used from 16 to 4, also reducing the app size, set up a tile system and general guardrails for our home screen  that resulted in a flexible, yet regulated layout, where all basic elements from the web experience were translated to mobile while maintaining information integrity. The tile system would be later adopted by our official UI system and used across many teams.

While I wasn't maintaining the style guide alone, my role was to oversee its consistency and correct application of patterns in the app, and addition of implemented patterns to the app supplemental library.

Before
After: Above the flow
After: Below the flow
Style guide

Ethnographic Research

To inform our product and design strategy and understand our users' neeeds, I collaborated with our research team to conduct a diary study. We went to the workplaces of small business owners in the U.S. and India to learn about the lives and habits of small business owners, and identify differences and commonalities between service providers and product sellers.

Takeaways

Some deliverables that came out of this work, were two well defined personas and journey maps that were used to tell the story of the common SMB merchant to our team and leadership, and a new understanding of the service provider: An audience that was neglected in the past, and that opened new opportunities in our roadmap.

MERCHANT BEHAVIORS
NEW SERVICE PROVIDER JOURNEY MAP

New Roadmap

I helped my team brainstorm on new initiatives for our yearly roadmap, focused on improving efficiency of payments for merchants on-the-go. I generated an opportunity statement, and made sure that the planned initiatives took into account the merchants' needs we clearly saw in our research.

Navigation and quick actions

A series of interviews and card-sorting exercises helped my team learn how users categorize the information on the app, and how are their behaviors different on web vs mobile.

Takeaways

We made some adaptations to the navigation bar to reflect how people used the app leaving the bottom tabs for highly used features. A quick action button triggers commonly used flows, so users can make the most out of their time.

Nav and quick actions
Tap on quick actions
Overflow menu

Home Framework

The app homepage is an optimal location for Merchants to be guided on business objectives and tasks, but small business owners didn’t have a way to know what tasks were important for them to do at PayPal. They wanted actionable data, insights and tasks relevant to their business.

Our mission was to help people have at a glance view that highlights the overall status and pending actions at PayPal, tailoring the experience to each person as they progress throughout their journey with PayPal.

I worked in collaboration with the home screen team for web, to come up with a Home Framework that scaled well and reliably presented the same information in both platforms.

I defined discrete areas for information in order of criticality to give users a sense of permanence, and other teams at PayPal a set of rules to add not only their notifications, but features and cross-sells.

Information hierarchy skeleton

Card types


One of my challenges was to maintain the same hierarchy as the web home screen, and condense all in a single feed, without overwhelming the user. I achieved it by creating zones of expandable notifications, and defining guardrails around the permanence of notifications and cross-sells if not attended.

We launched a pilot displaying notifications of different levels of importance to merchants, to learn how feasible was the notification model, calibrate our guardrails and provide a non-disruptive experience.

Framework Applied

First-time use
High priority information
Daily  information

PayPal Business today

I spent the last 6 months with the app team bringing even more consistency with the company latest UI patterns and guidelines teaming up with the home web team.

LATEST DESIGN
RECAP

Impact

100% growth YoY

Every year we doubled our user base, and maintained a 4.3 star rating on both Android and iOS app stores.

Removed feature silos

The home framework design took information out of the silos of features and pages, adding transparency to the app.

Added patterns to UI library

The card patterns were adopted by other teams and added to our official UI library.

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Sales Insights

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