Two years ago, Sallie Mae underwent a corporate split to focus on its consumer banking business. Since then, we've developed a new brand that focuses on putting the customer first. Since we don't have brick-and-mortar stores, our website is our main storefront. Student lending and paying for college are difficult topics, so we knew our site had to engage customers and prospects and help them easily find useful information as they needed it. This website is our most visible step toward aligning with our mission of helping families make college happen.
Building the foundation: The project took almost one year to complete and involved researchers, writers, UX professionals, designers, project managers, prototypers, and developers. We began with focus groups to uncover the information consumers wanted, then moved on to UX design to determine the most logical way to present the information,
Content and design: Writers focused on "warming up" the brand, rewriting all copy. We eliminated jargon, speaking directly to our customers, and we added educational content to further help customers make their choices. Designers created a flexible grid to hold all the content while keeping the pages airy and approachable. Looping videos were added to each home page for added visual interest. And difficult concepts (like interest rate types) were explained with powerful design elements. Easily recognizable icons and tile treatments were used to help customers quickly locate the type of loan they were looking for.
The new site is totally different than its predecessor, reflecting the transition from the old company to today's warmer, helpful Sallie Mae. Instead of a focus solely on products, we're humanizing our brand so we stand out as helpful, respectful experts. This initiative is the first step in showing our new personality to the world.