A Journey Through Keela 2.0’s User Experience from our UX Designers

Cara Pekson & Carol Chan • Jan 22, 2020

Think of how frustrating it is to navigate a website that’s badly organized – causing you to spend unnecessary time browsing through pages to find the information you’re looking for. That website has bad User Experience (UX).

As UX designers, it’s our job to make sure that the product you use is intuitive and makes it easy for you to go about your day-to-day tasks. It involves designing not just how the product looks but includes how you will use it, interact with it, and derive value from it. If you’re not thinking about how the product is working, and we’re helping you speed through your workday – then we’ve done our job right.

When we decided to launch Keela 2.0, it was important we invested in understanding more about the user experience to ensure our customers found Keela 2.0 easy to learn and easy to use while still being on the cutting edge of innovation. 

In preparation, we’ve looked deep into how our customers have been using Keela, where they struggled, what could be improved, and where our product was already working effectively. We’ve collaborated with our Sales and Success teams to make sure that our focus is going to best affect our users. We also studied trends in the sector, conducted market research, and adopted industry best practices to bring Keela 2.0’s designs to life. We found that there are many gaps in the industry and Keela represents the bridge between innovative technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the nonprofit sector, which has traditionally struggled to access these tools.

Our goal is to build a research-backed, more powerful product which will ultimately help our customers work effectively into the future.


So how did we go from this…. To this?

As UX designers, everything we do is focused around making sure the product is simple and easy to use. Before we start the design process, we need to have a clear understanding of what the main pain points are, and how our designs help alleviate a real-life problem.  To do this, we went feature-by-feature, auditing Keela 1.0, and used resources like our current customer’s help tickets to increase Keela 2.0’s functionality. In order to prioritize the features we added, we often consulted our team (with over 65 years of combined non-profit experience – and counting!) as well as current Keela users to talk through what an ideal workflow would look like.  

A step-by-step of our UX process: Keela’s Dashboard

Our original dashboard was a huge pain point for customers. Previously, it was made up of four fixed widgets, and we noticed many users spent little or no time there because of its limited functionality. Each organization operates differently and the information that each Keela user needs to see when they first log into CRM can vary. We wanted to create a fully functional dashboard for any organization within our app.


First, we set a long term goal that acted as our foundation throughout the design process. Keela’s goal is to help 

organizations have more impact through prioritization, prediction, understanding, and analysis of their data. 

We are constantly putting ourselves in our customer’s shoes, and asking ourselves questions during this phase. For the dashboard, we asked ourselves: 

  • How do we create an integrated onboarding experience?
  • Will organizations know how to use the system in order to achieve their goal?
  • Does the system reflect the company’s goals/values/mission?
  • How might we allow users to customize their dashboard to fit their workflow?

Then we began to map out our customer’s journey. This map includes key problems that our users have identified through interviews, tickets, and other user research. By identifying who we think would use this feature, we could then map out the steps we think they’d take to reach their goal. 

When we’re trying to solve these problems, it isn’t necessarily thinking about where we should place this feature or that button. It’s about generating a deeper understanding of why we should even develop this feature in the first place. How will it help non-profit organizations generate more impact and decrease time spent on their administrative tasks? Can we teach our customers how to generate insights from their data? 

Then, we begin to pull our ideas together by sketching out our ideas, getting our team to verify our work to see if it’s stacking up against customer concerns. At every stage of the process, we check-in with our developers to understand what is technically feasible. Working collaboratively helps us avoid getting stuck in a singular mindset. We also implemented some practices from the Design Sprint by Jake Knapp, a process of solving design problems efficiently.

Keela 2.0 Main UX Changes

Keela 2.0 was built to be intuitive and powerful, giving our customers more control over their experience. All of the organizations we work with are different. They have different needs, different focus areas, or different ways they want to have more impact. By providing more customization throughout Keela, we are helping them improve their unique workflows.

This includes a restructuring of our navigation, becoming more perceptive of how our customers moved through Keela 1.0. All our features can now be easily accessed on the main application bar.

More visual prompts and numerical overviews have been added, giving users a quick summary of their fundraising efforts, contacts, and donor generosity without having to run a report. We’ve also injected intelligent tools throughout the platform which alert you on next steps and provide resources to guide you with your fundraising efforts. You can read more about Keela’s new tools here.

The team has worked hard on our customer’s suggestions. One idea suggested that we provide more visibility and customization with contacts. With Keela 2.0, contact highlights are summarized on the left. You can also run deeper analytics on your donor pool and learn things like which contacts donated last year, but not this year, or view those who live in a specific neighbourhood. Additionally, we’ve added contact badges to donor profiles to give you a quick understanding of who you’re looking at. All of these changes have been created with our users in mind to ensure that Keela 2.0 is providing the most value possible. 

This has been a big project, with hours of research, user interviews, team brainstorms, design work, and development. The smallest things can have a huge impact on UX and, as designers, we appreciate your feedback. It has helped us create a great product with a lot of exciting features and tools for you to try.

Keela 2.0 will no doubt undergo small changes based on your experiences with it. Our mission, with the launch of our new software, is to ensure we’re continuously streamlining your processes and making Keela more intuitive. The better the product we build, the easier it will be for you to get back to making an impact. 

If you want to try Keela 2.0 for yourself, book a demo today. 

About the authors:

Cara Perkson is a Lead Product Designer at Keela. 

Asides from napping with her pupper Dino, Cara is obsessed with all things design. She loves making an impact on interactive experiences and aims to solve ridiculously complicated problems with simple designs. When away from the screen, she’s either munching on cookies, eating a tub of ice cream, or probably still snacking on something else.

Carol Chan is a UX/UI Designer & Researcher at Keela.

As a lover of design and technology, Carol is constantly inspired by what other creators are making. When she’s not staring at the screen all day, she tries to do more analog things – like rearranging the furniture and misting her houseplants.