Development was doing a lot of redundant front-end work with every new feature.
Customer support was overwhelmed with calls stemming from usability issues.
Marketing was struggling to advertise our product when it looked so unprofessional.
Sales had lost multiple deals to competitors because of the "look and feel" of our product.

Exposing the current experience

Many attempts were made to emphasize the importance of UX, including presentations on design and even calculating the ROI of good UX. These had limited impact.
I decided to lead the design team in performing a comprehensive audit of our product. After mapping out our entire product, I then clipped every button from the UI into a collage showcasing how many different button styles our product had. At a company-wide “show and tell”, I presented our findings.
It was time for a new approach.
From a 17 Person Startup to $1.2 Billion Valuation 🦄 🦄
When I started at SimpleNexus back in 2017 as the 17th employee, we were a scrappy, hardworking basement startup. Our product was simple back then: a virtual mobile business card and mortgage calculator app that lenders could share with homebuyers. But as the company grew, so did the ecosystem and complexity of our product.
There were audible gasps in the room. Some individuals even laughed. How did this happen?

From humble beginnings

No one could believe this was from the product we were building and selling to our customers. This led to conversations such as “Why do we keep creating new buttons?” and “What is this experience like for our users?”

Everyone was convinced: our current framework wasn’t scaling. Something needed to change.
With the company bought in, the design team had greater support to conduct research and solve our complexity problem. Over time, I interviewed 117 homebuyers. In fact, I even when at as far as becoming a homebuyer myself.

In addition, we wanted to understand the impact this was having on other departments.
With a deep shared understanding of the problems, many opportunities and ideas began to emerge. We knew we needed a design system to unify and scale our platform, but more importantly we needed a vision of how to use that design system, where we were going, and what we wanted to become.

As the lead over the consumer-facing experience of our product, I led the initiative on crafting a 4 year vision that could help answer these questions. I chose 4 years because it felt far enough out to be free of current legacy issues but not too far that it felt unrealistic.

By mapping out all the different stages in the homeownership journey, everyone was able to take a step back and realize the different opportunities we could pursue.
Our product had a lot of useful features, integrations, and data, but it was difficult for homebuyers to find value in the existing experience. I wanted to show the company that by focusing on the user’s needs, we could reuse our existing technology to unlock new value.
One of the most important aspects of the new vision was showing how the homeownership journey goes beyond buying a home. What if instead of deleting the app after buying the home, we gave homeowners a reason to keep the app for the life of the home?
It’s easier to use a phone with a built-in camera to scan and upload your driver’s license. Meanwhile, a desktop computer with a built-in keyboard is more convienent when filling out long forms.

Regardless of the device or task, we wanted to provide a consistent experience where homebuyers could easily bounce back and forth across platforms.
The more people see it, the more it becomes real and is on their minds.

I’m a firm believer in the power of repetition. Instead of waiting to share the vision when it was “finished", I chose to be as transparent and iterative as possible while creating it. Whether it was an idea, wireframe, mockup, or prototype, every week I would share updates showcasing the progress.
This approach also allowed creating the vision to be a collaborative effort where other departments could contribute, challenge assumptions, and provide insights. It was also important to get feedback from our customers and users. I strived to interview at least 30 users every quarter.
Everyone was excited about the vision, but a looming chasm remained: How do we get there? Where do we even start?

Using my background as both a product manager and developer, I was able to break the vision down into an actionable 4-year strategy outlining a proposed sequence of phases, milestones, and releases. Mapping the strategy was also iterative, requiring feedback and refinement from multiple departments.
I also wanted to ensure the vision and its corresponding strategy matched the agenda and priorities of the executive team. This required mapping the UX outcomes to our business outcomes, calculating ROI opportunities, and planning out dev resources.
One of the greatest privileges of having been at SimpleNexus for 4+ years is witnessing this vision come to life. This included working together with other departments in order to change mindsets, company culture, internal processes, and much more.

In addition, every good strategy must adapt to changing circumstances. Over the years, pivots were made, releases were reordered, and predicted features changed. Regardless, the vision remained constant and true. It was our North Star to guide us along the way.
Reflecting back on those basement startup days, it’s hard to believe SimpleNexus now has 400+ employees and is an industry leader in the mortgage space. While we’ve faced our fair share of challenges, I’ve never had greater confidence in such a vision-driven organization.

Developing empathy

How might we change the future?

Rethinking existing functionality

From homebuyer to homeowner

Cross-platform compatibility

Evangelizing the vision

Mapping out the product strategy

Executing the 4 year strategy

Understand and expose the current experience.
Imagine the future we want to create.
Define a path for getting there.
Rally people together to make it happen.
Going from a design team of 1 to 10, this is how I helped lead a 17-person startup to a $1.2B Valuation with 400+ employees.
Our product had 51 different button styles 🤯

Leading an organization changing UX Strategy

With no design system or clear product vision and a minimal emphasis on UX, the SimpleNexus experience started to no longer feel simple.
Through repeated exposure, the conversations changed from “Are we doing this?” to “When can we start doing this?”
People loved how actionable and achievable the strategy was. The vision no longer felt impossible.
Executing the vision and strategy resulted in the following achievements

Achieving unicorn status 🦄

In January 2022, SimpleNexus became the latest tech unicorn through an acquisition valued at $1.2B. In addition to our mobile app and mortgage expertise, one of the core pillars of the acquisition was because of our "frontend and user experience".

How can I help your organization?

Connect with me on Linkedin, or send me a message below.

72 NPS

Redesigned consumer experience with a world class NPS score of 72

3 Platforms

Established SimpleNexus's first design system unifying 3 platforms


Optimized core user task completion rates to be 9.3x faster

1 → 10

Expanded the UX Design team from 1 to 10 members

Inc. 500

Recognized as an Inc. 500 company multiple times

1 in 7

Our platform touches 1 in 7 mortgages in the United States

Looking to the future

Before ☺️
Mobile App
Business Card
After 😳
Mobile App
Business Card
Loan Application
Document Scanner
Home Search
Signing Documents
Payment Requests
Home Insurance
Rate Tracker
25 more...