Behind the design: interview with Digital Telepathy

Check out the design thinking behind the creation of our new website!

Our new website has been a labor of love for us at MAF, but we couldn’t have delivered the product without the brilliant design team at Digital Telepathy. Nate, Brent, and Eduardo were nice enough to take time out of their busy schedule to share their perspective on what the design thinking behind MAF’s rebrand and the importance of the user experience in furthering our mission to create a fair financial marketplace for all families.

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What are some current design trends that inspire you and the team?

Lately design has been moving towards minimalism. Trendy designs are flat and have more white space than they used to have.

This trend is very much in line with our formula for “betterment” of our designs.

Betterment = Simple + Compelling – Friction

What was the process like for coming up with the new MAF and Lending Circles logo?

Very collaborative – for the MAF logo we started with the core concepts of the organization and worked with company stakeholders to sketch our initial ideas in a workshop format. Each of us, MAF stakeholders included, contributed a number of sketches for consideration. We collectively decided on a direction and our designs moved from there.

How did you incorporate storytelling and infographics into the user experience?

MAF has so many inspiring stories to tell; the success of the organization can easily be seen by looking at its members.  We were able to partner with a photographer to produce compelling imagery that does a great job of telling the story of MAF.  We worked to create designs that would showcase these images and also created some supporting illustrations to highlight some of the statistics that support MAF’s cause.

How do you approach Objective Based Design for nonprofits like MAF?

The answer is in the name of our service – Objective Based Design. At most place, projects are begun with the end in mind… the team works furiously to build “something”. Our service is unique in that our primary focus is on achieving a specific objective.

In MAF’s case, we knew one of the reasons they are successful is their ability to meet people where they’re at, speaking to them on a person to person level. We kept this in mind going into design, looking to create something visually appealing and at the same time speaking to the audience in a very approachable and direct manner.

What was a memorable or challenging part of the MAF or Lending Circle website design process?

Our kickoff design workshop for the Lending Circle site was really great.  We had stakeholders from MAF and members of their development team come to our offices. We were able to cover a lot of ground because we had all the right people in the same room.  It was a ton of fun, everyone got involved in sketching out ideas and we were able to get alignment between all parties on our work for the next couple of months.  We had such a good time that we actually wrote a blog post about it!

What do you want users to come away with when they visit the new sites?

We want website visitors to feel connected to the cause. Putting actual stories of neighbors helping neighbors through lending circles (social loans) helps a website visitors understand how they can make a difference in someone else’s life.

How do you measure the success of a website?

That’s a complicated answer. A website is a tool for marketing, communication, PR, etc. So much of a website’s effectiveness is influenced by the rest of the ecosystem to which it belongs. For MAF, there are both quantitative metrics (how many visitors became donors) and qualitative metrics (effective application of brand messaging).

We hope you’re as wowed by Digital Telepathy as we are. Get in touch with them here!


Tara Robinson is the Chief Development Officer for Mission Asset Fund. She spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about what to say, how to say it and who to say it to. She's also occasionally found editing parenting magazines and coming up with home improvement projects that have to be done right now.