AI Powered Assistant to Help Bring Relief to Student Loans

  • Timeline: Two Weeks

  • Team: Team of Three

  • Role: User & Industry Researcher, UX Strategist & Designer

  • Deliverables: User Persona, Research Report, Functional Prototype for Two Breakpoints, Client Presentation

  • Tools: Screener Surveys, User Interviews, Persona Development, Prioritizing Features, Prototype Design, Sketch, Invision

  • Project Status: Complete

About the Client:

PeopleJoy is like TurboTax for student loans; it can help individuals manage their student loans and sign up for new repayment plans managed by PeopleJoy.

PeopleJoy will soon launch a new version of their online student loan AI assistant "ED". ED provides users with an easy to understand platform where they can upload their loan information, determine what the user's goals are, and suggest to the user a repayment plan that is personalized for their specific student loan.


PeopleJoy needed help designing a sales funnel to help move customers through the process and, ultimately, buy a student loan management plan. To achieve a successful sales funnel, we had to design something that built trust in PeopleJoy, showed the value of their product, and easily informed customers the differences between the loan management plans. Currently, PeopleJoy works directly with its users in person where they have a high success rate but know they need the website to be as effective if they want to scale.


Understanding the user's need in order to create a responsive website that maintained the same level of understanding users have when working directly with a PeopleJoy representative. This is necessary for scaling their business to a wider customer base.

Phase 1: Research & Synthesizing

While our team waited for a list of current PeopleJoy users to interview, we created a screener survey to find additional people who currently had student loans, were looking to lower their monthly payments, and were unfamiliar with PeopleJoy. Having two users interview groups allowed us to determine what kind of information all users knew about their loans and what kind of information people learned by working with PeopleJoy.

After conducting the non-PeopleJoy user interviews, we affinity mapped the observations and it was clear that most people take out loans not knowing much about them or how they work. Some insights that we found were:
  • I struggle to understand my student loan even after research
  • I took out a loan without being very informed
  • Managing my students loans are overwhelming and inconvenient
With our non-PeopleJoy user interviews complete, we began interviewing PeopleJoy users to understand their differences and see if they, too, misunderstood their loans. We affinity mapped the observations next to but separate from the non-users in order to visibly see similarities and differences.
We concluded that PeopleJoy users had almost all the same goals, needs, and pain points as non-users which led us to make a single persona that included all users with student loans.
Taking into account the persona and all additional information we gathered from the user interviews, we were able to come up with the following problem statement:
At the time students take out a loan, they often do not have the time or resources to educate themselves enough to understand how student loans work.

Marybeth doesn't fully understand the student loan repayment process and the terminology involved.

How might we help her better understand her student loan repayment plan and feel in control of her student loan situation?

Phase 2: Usability Testing Current Product

To create a baseline understanding of how the site currently worked, we conducted usability tests on individuals we found through a screener survey again to confirm they had student loans and were looking to lower their monthly payments. Through user tests we found:
  • 3/4 users were not familiar with the terms involved
  • 4/4 users could not interpret the data presented
  • 4/4 users found the image and information presented to be too small
Existing PeopleJoy Mobile Screens

Phase 3: Ideate, Proposed Solution

Based off of our problem statement and one round of usability testing the current product, we concluded that users would only be interested in buying PeopleJoy's product if they felt comfortable and confident in the information they were presented.

The first step in accomplishing this involved educating all users about the basics of student loans so that we could begin to build confidence in their understanding.

To achieve this, we reworked the the site to include an "onboarding" section to start. The onboarding process included simple terms users shared they didn't know in the user interviews.
"I know there are different types of loans, but I don't always remember what they are." User 1

"The process is intimidating. The vocabulary can be complex and I don't really know where to start." User 3
Student Loan Education Screens (Onboarding)

Topics included:
  • Types of loans (federal & private)
  • Parts of a loan (principal & interest)
  • What is a Servicer
Having addressed the educational aspect, we now needed to meet our initial challenge of designing additional screens based off of the information we gathered from the users. Working off several quotes from users, we began to rebuild the additional pages.
"All of my loan information was scattered. Something got lost in translation...I felt absolutely scared, terrible and just a little defeated." User 1

"My monthly payment tells me that I need to make this amount per month to pay my loan back. It's what I can take action on. It's really important." User 2
Your Loan Overview & Loan Comparison to PeopleJoy Screens

Student Loan Management Payment Plan Screens

Phase 4: Usability Testing New Mid-Fi Prototype & Iterate

With a new working prototype, our next step was conducting usability tests on users. Again we found users through a screener survey confirming users had student loans and were looking to lower their monthly payments. The users found success in our new educational feature but still struggled with the information about their loans and what PeopleJoy could offer them.

  • 3/3 users found the onboarding information provided to be helpful
  • 3/3 users found the Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) modal window to be helpful
  • 3/3 users did not understand how PeopleJoy was able to calculate their new repayment plan
  • 3/3 users felt they needed more information on the 3 different payment plans before they could move forward
  • 2/3 users wanted more information about how their current loan was broken down
Loan Savings From PeopleJoy Screen (first version left, iterated version right)
  • Information on how PeopleJoy works helps quell any doubts the user may have in the company
  • More detailed copy from Ed adds transparency
PeopleJoy's Plans Screen (first version left, iterated version right)
  • Detailed copy from Ed communicates PeopleJoy's value
  • "Learn More" accordion file gives the user access to additional information in a clear and concise way
  • Access to customer service adds a layer of trust
Your Loan Overview (first version left, iterated version right)
  • Including interest and principal balance under Total Loan Amount helps the user better understand their current loan

Phase 5: Hi-Fi Prototype

After receiving comments from the Mid-Fi usability testing, we iterated the design within the mobile flow to include changes we observed from the users. Then we took all the changes we made through the mobile breakpoint and introduced them into the desktop breakpoint. The larger screen allowed us to combine a few screens and include the video tutorial right within the screen.

Click screen below for Invision Prototype

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