If you’ve been lending on Kiva for a while, you might already be familiar with our commitment to innovation — from loan products like chlorine water dispensers with Evidence Action to site features like the lending collections page.

One of the ways we promote innovation at Kiva is by testing new site experiments that might be useful — features such as kiva.org/live, loan tagging and the borrower previews that appear in lending team messages. While many of these features end up being wildly successful, there are others that don't catch on, need more polish, cause a large maintenance burden for our team or simply detract from the core user experience on Kiva. 

In 2014, one of Kiva's main initiatives will be focused on improving that core lending experience for our users, and includes things such as making loans, interacting with the community and building a sense of connection with borrowers around the world. With this focus in mind, we're starting off the new year with a new initiative to more regularly prune away what's not working well (less-used features, and those that cause an unnecessary maintenance burden) with the hope that this will free our team to better focus on the core of what Kiva’s all about: connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty. 
With next week’s site release, as part of this “winter cleaning” initiative, or new year “pruning,” we’ll be removing a number of smaller site features. Here's what we've decided to remove: 
Map view on kiva.org/lend: In online and in-person interviews, we've repeatedly observed lenders having difficulty using the map. The reasons vary but include:
  • A non-intuitive interface for new (and even experienced) lenders, due to the need to zoom and pan the map to find countries they wish to select
  • General bugginess (for example overlapping information boxes)
  • Lenders not knowing how to apply their selection, or confusion around whether loans were updating according to their selections
  • Difficulty locating and selecting small countries, and confusion in how to select multiple countries
While less interactive, we believe that a simple list, organized by region, will be easier to use and make the experience of filtering by country faster and more efficient for lenders.
Loans per page drop-down: Similar to the map view, the “loans per page” drop-down menu near the top of kiva.org/lend was originally implemented to help lenders select loans. However our testing showed that the feature was not used often, added unnecessary clutter to the interface and frequently introduced new bugs whenever changes were made to this page.
Lending team goals: Lending team goals were created to help teams rally around milestones for loan amounts and new members. While we believe there’s a lot of value in helping team captains better engage team members and create incentives around lending and growing their teams, the current implementation unfortunately hasn't been used very much across teams. It also doesn't match the level of quality we have set for our site and isn't integrated well into the rest of the lending team experience. (Please note, we will keep old goals visible in a read-only format.)
If you’re interested in the ability for teams to set goals again the future, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below or by writing to contactus@kiva.org — what worked well with setting goals in the past? What other features do you feel would help your team work toward these milestones in the future?
Recent news items: The “Recent news items” on the Portfolio page (not to be confused with “Recent Updates for My Loans”) was originally meant to provide a snapshot of recent lender messages and lending team messages. In our research we’ve observed that very few people use this feature, instead preferring to check messages directly on team boards or in their email notifications. Given that this page is the first thing every lender sees when they sign into Kiva, we feel it’s especially important to streamline this page and remove sections that don’t add a lot of value.
In addition to these four, you may notice a few other smaller changes. Removing these features doesn’t mean there isn’t great potential or value behind these ideas, it’s just that they haven’t been implemented in a way that meets the level of quality and usability we hope for our site. At Kiva we will continue to innovate and try new things, learn what works best for our lenders and make changes accordingly. So if you have any thoughts or suggestions for what you’d like to see, or if there’s a way we can work to make the core lending experience on Kiva even better — don’t hesitate to let us know! We always love to hear from you. 


About the author

Brandon Smith

Brandon is from North Carolina, where he studied journalism at UNC Chapel Hill. After interning at Kiva in 2012, he joined the staff full time in 2013 to serve as the Community Marketing Coordinator, Kiva's liaison with the 25,000 lending team communities. In his spare time, Brandon enjoys medium-format photography, biking around the bay, and keeping in touch with friends and family on the east coast.