ShareBuilder

I started as the only web designer in 2000, and eventually built a team of ten people which included UX, design, and writers. My areas of responsibility were everything from the user experience of the sharebuilder.com to the design of banner ads, packaging, trade show booths and signage.

Company ShareBuilder.com, ING Direct, Capital One
Date March 2000 – July 2012
Skills Creative Direction, User-Centered Design, UX Design, UI Design, Branding, Marketing, Advertising, Packaging, Signage, Video and Audio Production, Vendor Management, Team Building

The original site

I joined ShareBuilder on March 1, 2000, and at the time there was little thought to user testing, A/B testing, click-thru rates, and conversion.

Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.

JMaeda
John Maeda

Executive, designer, technologist

The first major redesign: Testing is integrated.

In 2001, we were given an new brand, and obviously we had to update the website. We were already A/B testing to see how we could increase conversion from the home page. We also studied our conversion stats for account completion and subscription upsells. Design updates were made with the knowledge of what was driving successful page interactions.

People responded positively to the concept of 3 easy steps. And with more multivariate testing, we started narrowing in on sizes, copy and positions. It wasn’t pretty, but it was starting to convert better.

A second major redesign.

Rounded edges, glassy surfaces and lots of gradients – affordances gone wild. The fact is, we found that illustrations seemed to convert better than photos. Also giving people something to do on a landing page, like inputting small amounts of text (in this case, a stock ticker) increased conversion dramatically.

Another challenge of ShareBuilder was pulling from multiple databases on to one screen to display overall user info. We had to balance and manage the cognitive load, information relevance, and site performance to give a good customer experience.

It was during this time that I first created a brand style guide for ShareBuilder, to hammer down our voice, our visual style, and the consistency of our brand elements.

Our first acquisition, and a new look.

One of the largest online banks in the U.S., ING DIRECT, purchased ShareBuilder for $220M.

Shortly after the purchase, the design team was restructured into three teams: UX for the sharebuilder.com website, a design team for marketing, and a UX team for the new ShareBuilder 401K product.

The marketing era.

I was appointed lead for the marketing design team. We set to work creating, building and testing landing pages, which supported our conversion funnels. My team was also responsible for online advertising and search campaigns, any print collateral, wayfinding, trade shows, product packaging, and everything else not associated directly with the site.

My key tasks at this point was developing concepts with project owners, working with the designers to develop ideas, build out projects, sell them to stakeholders, and execute on our plans. We relied on analytics to validate new ideas, or to iterate on currently winning implementations.

Other notables.

  • Increased cross-sell click-thru rates by 700%
  • Designed and directed all print marketing
  • Directed video shoots and voice-over talent
  • Redesigned the ShareBuilder boxed product, reducing packaging costs by 30%

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