The Nelnet Unifi Design Studio: Creating Great User Experiences through Digital Interaction

Your online customer tools and services are the digital face of your institution – and a key way to interact with your customers. A well-designed, visually appealing experience creates many benefits, such as:

  • Empowering customers to accomplish tasks on their own.
  • Increasing the chance that customers take actions beneficial to you and them.
  • Increasing sales of and engagement with your products and services.
  • Reinforcing your brand to retain and grow new customers.

All of these benefits contribute to positive customer experiences and help give you an edge over competitors.

When it’s time to build or redesign an online product, how do you know the most effective approach to take? Which features should you include? What do your customers really want? You can’t afford to guess. At Nelnet, we consult our experts.

Introducing the Nelnet Unifi Design Studio

Nelnet’s Unifi Design Studio (Unifi) provides user research and interface design support for Nelnet Consumer Services. The overarching goal of Unifi is to help people accomplish what they want to do in a way that’s satisfying and empowering, making their lives easier through their online experiences. Here’s how the team helps clients deliver that for their customers.

Three Areas of Focus

Unifi focuses on digital interaction projects through research, design, and development. The team’s work helps clients and partners offer the best user experience, from understanding whether a potential project is a good idea for their business to creating effective, intuitive, and accessible online products.

  1. Research. Also called user research or user experience (UX) research, this is all about understanding people and their experiences. What are your consumers’ goals? What are their pain points? Unifi develops personas to help understand the audience that a product serves. The team also conducts usability testing to ensure that the experience meets user expectations and business goals.
  2. User interface (UI) design. Using UX research as a basis for their work, UI designers create and build experiences with the end goals of simplicity and efficiency. For example, their work could be to make a transaction or information lookup quick and easy for borrowers, or to simplify complicated tasks for agents and help them make efficient use of their time. UI designers pride themselves on innovating to create something helpful and easy to use.
  3. User interface development. The Unifi Design System is the technical framework that Unifi front-end developers support. The system is used to help deliver quality front-end code efficiently and is used in many of Nelnet’s websites and the Nelnet Velocity™ technology platform.

User Experience Is Top of Mind

Unifi designs with the user experience in mind, with sharp focus on meeting user needs, delivering desired experiences for customers. The Design System’s flexibility – due to its ease of “themeability” – also means that it’s easy for the Unifi team to brand its work for clients. For example, if the team designs a top-notch customer experience, they can replicate it across brands if it meets the expectations of each client.

Unifi’s variety of services can be delivered in a standalone fashion, such as a quick consult or research, or as part of a complete experience that includes persona and wireframe creation, design, and testing. (Unifi also supports the development team’s use of the Design System.) It all depends on the problem to solve.

Although the team’s work is often seen in client solutions, Unifi doesn’t directly engage with Consumer Services clients. Instead, the team assists our product and development teams on both client and internal projects, such as Velocity and its origination and servicing experiences. The team provides research, creates wireframes, and supports design and front-end development for Velocity, as well as for our federal student loan servicing websites and apps.

Collaboration and Expertise

Collaboration is the hallmark of the Unifi approach. In fact, it’s the most important element in predicting the success of their projects. They also value collaborating with the teams and partners for whom they work.

Collectively, the Unifi team brings deep experience and tested processes to every request and project they work on. Unifi has been a part of Nelnet for about 15 years, and some team members have worked together throughout that time. Many have become experts in a particular product or type of research. Their expertise and effort enables our product and development teams in Consumer Services – and our clients – to focus on identifying and delivering desired outcomes for all users.

Contact us about your UI/UX design or research needs today.


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