Russian Agricultural Bank
While working on this project, I experienced a whole range of feelings. This is a kind of child who sometimes had to be put in a corner, sometimes thoughtfully explained why it was possible and not so. And yet moments of joy are the most precious. The first click, first steps, first why. Nevertheless, the RSHB is a typical state bank, woven from bureaucracy and tyrants (this citizen crowns the food chain: Boris Listov). Do not even think, I sincerely love my country, but I hate the state. These are very different things.
Of course, being the property of the Soviet society (having inherited the structure of Agroprombank), there were several specifics in the approvals, bureaucracy, in general, about the initiative. But none of that matters. My goals and motives lie in the end-users. As a rule, these are private farmers and households. And my task is to make a convenient service just for them so that they quickly understand their next steps. Where to find the information they need and make the work with the service more transparent and native.
I also had carte blanche to build communication between the crews. On one condition - we live by the principles of Agile. Development teams preferred to follow the path of Jira and the preservation of all standard ceremonies. Well, in the design team, we preferred Notion + Miro. In addition, Notion allows you to integrate Figma frames directly into space. Well, isn't it a fairy tale? We also reduced the number of ceremonies to stand-ups + demos within the team and a demo for management. The sprint was 2 weeks.
We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… Ah, if only. But still, we had a certain starting point. A platform called the Monolith. In essence, this is a service where
the backend defines the frontend. Which as a whole sounds scary, and looks no better. The absence of any analytics, and screwed-up metrics, should have upset us, but it wasn’t there. We didn't think long and with a team of Product Owners went to the fields with our farmers. Get acquainted, build communication, and collect insights.
While collecting data and our first hypotheses, we, as a design team, realized an equally important point - branding. Although our leadership didn't see this as a problem, our sense of beauty made inarticulate sounds. Therefore, we made several variants of the new sign and conducted surveys within the team, then among farmers and potential consumers. And with all this data we came to our beloved celestials. We must pay tribute to convincing them, having quite his arguments, it wasn't difficult, and our product has acquired a new face.
Let's go back to our fieldwork and the first steps. Oh yes, in parallel, I will give respect to my colleagues who have become part of the team, part of the ship (but not the military one). Ira is one of the designers with an ingratiating nature and attention to detail. She steadfastly clipped the wings of my strangest ideas and hypotheses. Respect for Nikita will also follow. This guy is still young, but already damn cool. I would like to be like that at his age.
Sorry, sometimes I will be brought into the lyrics. Letters took possession of me ... To the point. We came to visit different farmers, and, if possible, tried to communicate with their accountants. Because their scenarios of behavior are different from the scenario of the business owner. We formed our first hypotheses thanks to this communication (it should be noted that it was always very full and incredibly tasty).
Next, we wanted to explore these hypotheses, as well as test two very cool tools: Useberry and Uitrial. The first one has a deeper and more flexible flow with the ability to collect multiple data (heatmaps, cursor screencast, statistics, etc.). But it allows you to share only the link directly, and therefore you need to look for the respondents yourself. The second one is perhaps a little less flexible, but at the same time, it allows you to make the coverage of opinions much wider
(there are some options for setting the target audience) due to the inhabitants attracted by the Internet. Yes, there were almost no farmers among them, but one of our goals was to make the service not narrowly tailored for farmers. But relatively accessible to everyone, yet at the same time focused on farmers. I also registered as an individual entrepreneur and opened accounts in all the top banks in Russia. Keeping track of your competitors is very important.
When we first formed an understanding of what we wanted to do, it was the turn of style. The choice fell on more pastel colors with a very soft palette (but green is our everything, so it became an accident). Our target audience is divided into two roles: a business holder and an accountant. For the former, it is important to quickly
access balances, recent transactions, etc. But the main communication with our platform is accountants, who in Russia are most often women 35+. Therefore, in our opinion, the hit was quite good. Also, a very strong illustrator joined us (Sasha, that's your respect), who created a unique style that correlates with the palette.
Next, production was waiting for us and, to my happiness, we managed to attract more staff to the team: Nastya (you are a very strong senior level designer), Kirill (a cheerful, carefree dude, but at the same time having the necessary sense of rhythm and love for the product) and Danil (still young, but possessing all the necessary skills, I think much cooler projects are waiting for you).
We scaled products and looked for good solutions. And also I collected a library of components since I already had a similar experience. I love cleanliness and neatness, as well as finding flexible solutions in Figma. Digging forums, checking guides, and working with auto layouts are about me. Of course, my colleagues didn't let me relax and helped me eliminate my mistakes.
Having accumulated the base, scaling started and the processes began to tick like clockwork. Yes, formally we still lived in agile, but still in its easy form. It was easier for us to negotiate with a specific product or team than to build it into some kind of bureaucracy. At the same time, if a specific microservice needed to integrate the designer's stack into the same Jira, we were loyal but tried to maintain face-to-face communication.
I will note several main hypotheses which we tried to answer. The presence of several accounts and the cumulative balance on the main screen. Moreover, we observed scenarios when accountants came to the farmer and, under his supervision, formed the necessary payment orders. Therefore, regardless of the role, we wanted to have a single main screen. We also assumed the conversions of the most popular
sections and organized two main entry points for actions. In the menu on the left, as well as in the buttons under the accounts. There are also points for informing and advertising (the format of classic stories). And a place to work with a list of transactions, events, and actions, so that the user can carry out a number of the most popular scenarios directly from the main screen.
I also want to separately note one of our hypotheses, which we were quite able to confirm. Independent processes that are independent of other scenarios should not be overloaded with elements that are not related to them. For example, in the payment scenario, there should be only a payment order and nothing more. Therefore, we decided that independent script branches should always be designed as simply as possible so that nothing distracts your attention. It is better to make the fields themselves larger,
the separation of objects clearer, etc. Probably someone will ask why? What about upsells? Everything is very simple in our case, 95% of the accountants work with these scenarios, and most often they are people without the possibility of making a decision, so they perceive all this more as spam. Basically, it's just a full-screen modal, but in cases where the script can linearly expand deeper, we left the navigation elements inside the script so that users can go back and make adjustments.
And finally, the process I built for communication with the front-end. I note that I had experience working with code and I fully understand the syntax of HTML, CSS, and JS, but still, the design is much closer to me and here I have much more expertise. Firstly, I always insisted that the fronts contact us directly and build trusting (friendly) relations between the teams. This speeds up and improves communication. In particular, we worked out some fairly successful mechanics with them, for example, the transfer of micro-animations. Initially, we collected everything we needed on this SVGator platform (these guys are mega cool, as a result, you get animated SVG both with JS and exclusively with CSS). Something the guys could already immediately take and use, the same loaders and icon animations.
But also through this site and another Animista, I could select micro animations in detail and give them to the guys already in code, for which we already caught respect from them.
In the same way, we further built the process with the mobile application development team. This was my first encounter with Flutter (the web version is based on React), but to be honest, everything went smoothly. This development environment has good ready-made examples and libraries in the public domain, which made it possible to quickly achieve the desired result. Also, the SVGator solution we used earlier can export to the Dart language. For which they receive another respect.
We can plan, dream, and move progressively towards our goals. But still, not everything depends on us… February 24, 2022, was a turning point. Dividing our lives into before and after. As I wrote at the beginning, I love my country, but I hate the state. And I've hated it for a very long time. I was a participant in Bolotnaya Square 2011 and all subsequent rallies. But the state strangles all such actions with the cruelest methods. And in order not to go crazy, it is better to give yourself to a cause that you sincerely love. Try to be helpful. Since our product is wholly owned by the state, I could not afford to sponsor such a terrible war. In winter, I had an offer from Kyiv and still (I hope) have friends who can forgive. I will always keep an eye on this project as there is so much left unsaid and unfinished. And yet in such a situation, honor is above any blessings. Therefore, I will continue to follow the product only from the outside.