Modern Office

Sesami

All-In-One Cash Management Services

powered by GardaWorld

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Understanding the Problem

“Well, if it can be thought, it can be done, a problem can be overcome.”

- E.A. Bucchianeri

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Background Information

Garda World has been one of the industry's leaders in providing the most trusted physical security and risk management services for decades. Its mission is to help protect financial institutions, consumer businesses, and public sectors with their assets and operations by well-trained officers who can guard the premise of the operation facility and transport the secured cash through armored trucks between locations.

Recently, Garda World has shifted its focus from physical security services to cash management services, which encompass the broader spectrum of the cash ecosystem and tailors the company's need to create a sustainable reporting management cycle for its clients.

Thus, the company has decided to create a subsidiary that provides the most optimized cash ecosystem services called Sesami.

Challenges

Implementing Sesami as a cash ecosystem management service requires examining what Sesami is and how it operates as a separate entity aside from Garda World's primary services. The precise explanation Sesami's specific operational services have to be reiterated, visualized, and presented to the audience effectively. 

 

In addition, Garda World needs support in identifying Sesami as a brand to position Sesami as a distinctive brand in the cash management industry. 

 

Furthermore, to convey the core message of Sesami to its audience and develop a forefront sales/marketing solution, Garda World needs to create a comprehensive website containing all of the necessary information to enable representatives to communicate with potential clients and investors.

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My Role & Goals

 

I was hired as a Product Lead in this Sesami project for Garda World and teamed up with other talented designers, developers, writers, and strategists.

Our goals to achieve for Sesami were to:

- Identify Sesami's Brand Identity

- Develop Sesami's Brand Strategies

- Create a Comprehensive Website with Marketable Content

Some of my primary responsibilities included conducting interviews with stakeholders, competitive analysis research, developing brand strategies, and working on UI/UX design principles that can shape the structure and design of the website.

I also assisted the product manager in facilitating the entire journey's scrum process to ensure that we had time to design, test, reiterate, and develop while still meeting deadlines.

Gantt Chart

We established our initial gantt chart that lays out the timeline of each department's deadline and workflow. After the kickoff call, we prioritized identifying interviewees among stakeholders and other candidates who could provide us with valuable insights and conducting interviews, along with competitive analysis and another research synthesis..

We decided to initiate the process of brand strategies, content/marketing strategies, and UI/UX design simultaneously after the interviews/research phase was completed at the request of the Garda World team. We also made sure to stick to our scrum process, which allowed us to inspect and adapt for rapid delivery instead of the waterfall method.

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Figuring Out Brand Strategies

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard thing.”

-Jeff Bezos

Interview Research

We ran a brainstorming session to jot down interview questions to ask relevant questions and gain meaningful insights from our stakeholders. Each member from every department worked on polishing questions about Sesami that could help our stakeholders elaborate their ideas and suggestions better, and we drew our affinity mapping with some of the keywords that we believed to be relevant to our research on notes.

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Stakeholders Interviews

Based on our discovery notes and foundations, we conducted internal interviews with our stakeholders at Garda World, primarily with the CEO and the leaders in service and device management. We focused our questions from the brand's point of view, accessing what Sesami is, how it should shape its mission statement, and why the potential customers should care about it. Then, we expanded the narrative on how the content and website should serve at the forefront of communication between the company and the audience.

Their answers were candid and visionary and based on their respective positions in the company; they provided us with insightful information based on the financial and management goals they set for Sesami. They further explained their characterization of Sesami, which helped our team draw better dots on the brand positioning map.

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Competitive Analysis

We also explored the leading companies in the cash management industry, all of which Sesami should keep in mind, and the three companies we took a deep look at were Loomis, HeathCo, and Bank of the West. The companies were operating their cash management services as a subsidiary apart from their primary service solution, and how they communicated their vision with their audience was different in terms of aesthetic nuance and tone. Thus, we broke down our areas of interest and examined each company through the lens of brand identity, UI/UX design, and content.

Brand Identity

Through our research and interviews, we gathered enough information to assert the foundation of Sesami as a brand. It was essential for us to understand who Sesami was and could be based on the feedback from our stakeholders and takeaways from competitors. 

Our Brand Guide for Sesami is as follows:

Brand Name: Sesami, the seed of the cash management ecosystem
Vision: Sesami to become the leading technology-driven cash management service provider in the industry
Mission: To provide an all-in-one cash management system to customers
Operations: Track earnings, manage cash handling, predict potential revenue, secure earnings in a smart safe
Values: Cash Management, Safe Transaction, All-in-One
Tone: Trustworthy, Transparent, and Robust
Voice: Technical and trustworthy way of communication
Tagline: The Power of All-in-One Cash Management

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Brand Archetype

Next, we consolidated our findings and drew our brand archetype for Sesami. Brand archetypes provide a "framework based on human psychology to help your company build a worthwhile and valuable relationship," and it was vital for us to understand what type of archetype Sesami is to create a mission statement, define its narrative style, and build a communication bridge between Sesami and its audience.

We conducted our research, asked our stakeholders and current customers of Garda World, and drew our brand archetype chart, consisting of 12 different archetypes with each distinct characteristic and meaning. According to our findings, we concluded that Sesami should be the "Sage" archetype, the master whose knowledge would be impeccable and whose teachings could enlighten the world. We figured since the goal of Sesami was not only to provide exclusive services in cash management but also unparalleled knowledge that the customers could gain and learn from, resulting in a tremendous amount of respect for Sesami and what it stood for.

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Brand Positioning

Furthermore, based on our competitive analysis, we were able to mark a brand positioning exercise for Sesami. The two metrics that we believed to be crucial in terms of brand geographic advantages and primary focus points were: whether Sesami should be global or regional and it should position itself as a technology or finance company.

We created a graph with visualized level of concentration and mapped our competitors based on our findings. Then, we placed Sesami almost at the center of the graph, indicating that Sesami should be an international company, operating in Europe and North America, Also, instead of being an exclusive software company, we positioned Sesami to be a balanced all-around platform that handled financial assessment of the company.

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Brand Visual Identity

After we developed the brand identity comprising verbal statements that defined Sesami, we shifted our focus to creating a visual identity involving specific brand visuals to represent Sesami. Some components were Logos, Icons, Imagery, and Color Palette. It was essential to convey the mood and visual direction of Sesami to its audience, and compiling a board of such components helped us shape Sesami and build its foundation.

Building the Information Architecture

"By dint of building well, you get to be a good architect"

-Aristotle

UI/UX Design Plans

 

After we brought the shine of brand identity onto Sesami, our next step was to design and develop a well-polished website that could further extend the single-custodian narrative of Sesami as a brand and what types of services it would offer to customers. The request from the Sesami team for the website was not to create a gigantic information platform where many channels with different types of information were presented, but to consolidate information and target audiences in two main sectors. Also, the team asked us to develop a content strategy that could help the website rank high on Google search through SEO optimization.

Based on our meetings, we concluded that for the Sesami website, we had to:

- Create a Comprehensive Information Architecture
- Design and Test Wireframes and Mockups
- Incorporate Content Strategy into the Website
- Develop the website through CMS

Personas & Target Audiences

To understand who Sesami's target audience needed to be, we drew our analysis and conducted research through stakeholders' input and experiences. The Sesami team requested that the website should target two types of audiences: consumer businesses and financial institutions. Since the services of Sesami composed of cash handling, secure cash transactions, predictive revenue growth, and software installations, the business sectors that needed these types of services were the private and corporate retail owners who required efficient cash all-in-one cash management services. The financial sectors needed secure cash transactional protection in addition to physical cash security. 

We were able to interview some of the current Garda World customers who were interested in using the Sesami services. We drew our Personas based on their responses on what they would like to receive from Sesami and how their businesses were operating. 

Through these personas, we were able to write user stories based on what the two customers said:

Adam: As a user, I want to facilitate my cash handling software so that I can securely spend, send, and track my finances.
Chris: Asa a user, I want to protect and predict the revenue through an all-in-one management system so that I can focus on other financial matters

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Nielsen Heuristics Analysis for User Interface Design

In addition, we deepened our competitive analysis of their websites to examine what aspects of UI/UX design they were utilizing well. The crucial part of creating a well-established website was communicating with the audience and telling a story that was important for the company and the audience. The story Sesami needed to convey was about how it could inspire the knowledge of cash management and provide essential services that the customers would need, thus prioritizing the story aspect of the website and how to tell it through the visual presentation of the website.

To structurally understand the landscape of each competitor's website, we incorporated Nielsen Heuristic UX Design analysis, which provided us with "examining the interface and judging its compliance with recognized usability principles." How the users would read and receive information and interact with the website.

Site Map

 

Illustrating a comprehensive sitemap based on our competitive and Nielsen heuristic analysis came to be the next step in our information architecture process. We first established the foundation of the sitemap based on our stakeholders' requests: keep the site simple and focus on targeting two types of audiences as the primary strategy: Consumer Business and Financial Institutions. 

Also, we had to make sure that there was a Call-To-Action button that could enable the users to take action after they completed reading about Sesami. Thus, we added the "Get In Touch" stripe at the end of every page, motivating users to contact the Sesami team, a meaningful sales lead.

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User Flow

We needed to map out the flow of users arriving at the homepage by contacting Sesami for more information. The goal of this website was to present information and gain meaningful leads that could turn into revenue thus we had to focus on channeling our energy into captivating our users, primarily in the consumer business and financial institutions, and guide them through learning more about the company, its mission, and its people. 

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Designing and Developing

"Design is intelligence made visible." 

-Alina Wheeler

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Initial Wireframes

We began sketching our initial wireframes based on our research and information architecture. The main navigation bar was one of the first components we started working on. We obviously placed "For Financial Institutions" and "For Consumer Business" on the front for our targeted audience. 

Other stylistic structures we incorporated into the website were placing a big header on top and section breakers that included titles and statistical data on Sesami's success rate. Also, We mixed the horizontal and vertical alignment of images with texts to show the variety of alignment styles.

After our presentation to the stakeholders, however, we received some critical feedback regarding the structure of the homepage. The Sesami team wanted to tell a "single-custodian story" to the users, and the current design did not reflect what they were hoping to achieve. They wanted the website to look more "structured" and "organized," thus creating a mood of cohesiveness and unity throughout the site.

Revised Wireframes

We ran another design regroup to discuss the feedback and changes that had to be made. After rounds of revision and discussion with my designers, we came up with a symmetrical mosaic structure that looked more organized and structured. The previous version gave the impression of a free-floated, diversified, and vivid image, while the revised version was more structured, robust, foundational, and organized to help the Sesami tell the single-custodian story of cash management services.

UI Elements

To fully visualize the website, we needed to create a library of UI elements we would utilize. We first worked on the Grid and Indention system for mobile and desktop and laid out typography that could be typed out in a responsive manner. 

For Icons, we figured it would be best to have a variety of universal call-to-action icons that the users would be familiar with to emphasize the connection that Sesami was trying to build with its users, and colors were chosen based on the brand visual identity that we developed.

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Content Strategy

We believed that the success of the Sesami website could not entirely depend on the design of the website, precisely color, icons, images, and typography. It required great written content with optimized SEO-friendly vocabulary that could tell a highly engaging story and boost the level of exposure on the web. Our copywriters worked extensively with the marketing team to figure out how to cohesively narrate the story of Sesami, exemplifying the mission statement and visionary landscape that Sesami was trying to achieve and publish to the audience.

In addition, we utilized Semrush, a software helping companies with SEO optimization and marketing strategies, to understand what types of vocabulary would help the website score high on Google searches. With Semrush, we could discover which keywords in the cash management industry were being searched the most, track brand mentions and site searchability, and how to formalize the content to appeal to the audience. Integrating software like Semrush into our project was beneficial, and our writers and strategists continued to improve content beyond launch.

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One Open and Integrated Platform

Sesami is a global cash ecosystem performance and technology company providing financial institutions and consumer businesses the ability to work with a single partner across the full spectrum of cash management products and services.

These include advisory, business intelligence, and analytics; a comprehensive and customizable software suite for tracking, forecasting, and data aggregation; managed product maintenance, cash ecosystem services, and processing services delivered by best-in-class third-party cash operators wherever our clients operate; and leading intelligent cash automation and security device options, including Tidel and Gunnebo Cash Management solutions.

Development

Our developers worked on developing the frontend and backend system of the Sesami website, and we chose React.Js to visualize the user interface, along with Bootstrap framework. React was the most popular Javascript framework that was used by hundreds of companies, and its ability to duplicate multiple components helped our developers write codes faster and more efficiently. In addition, Bootstrap framework helped us beautify the website and make it look more structured.

For CMS, our developers recommended Contentful, a "cloud-based API-first content platform" that helps "digital teams pull the content out of the code base and improve the delivery experiences" for editors. One of the compelling reasons to recommend Contentful for the Sesami team was its ability to deliver content to various platforms without compromising its quality regardless, and using multiple APIs to insert data was also beneficial.

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High Fidelity Mockups

After a long design and development period, our team finally brought the first fidelity mockups to life. We took what we discovered from our research and interviews, created routes and structures based on our information architecture, added UI elements into wireframes, and incorporated our content strategies into the mockups. 

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Homepage (Desktop)

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About (Desktop)

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For Financial Institutions (Desktop)

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For Consumer Business (Desktop)

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Contact Us (Desktop)

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Homepage (Mobile)

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Menu Bar (Mobile)

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About Us (Mobile)

Testing & Revision

We presented our prototype to our stakeholders first, guiding them through how to navigate the site by clicking buttons and discovering how each main navigation information. 

Some of the most critical feedback we received during our prototype testing were:

- The top menu bar does not explicitly indicate which channel the user needs to click 
- The Contact Us strip at the bottom looked too generic
- The route from the homepage to each business sector page was not smooth
- The visibility of the system status was lacking while loading the page
- The icons were not transparent enough to convey what the users needed to do
- The shades between blocks were not different enough to separate the contents

We went back to our whiteboard and revised the designs accordingly to illustrate Sesami and present information most effectively while communicating with the users.

Live Site

After the testing, we revised and reviewed the website with our stakeholders and finally launched it live. You can check out the site here below:

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Validation & Conclusion

With the approval from the Sesami team, we were able to launch the website. It took a couple of months to see the result and gather some analytical data that we could examine to understand what to improve and change in the next phase. We received some positive feedback from the users regarding the whole experience, and some of the praises were about how easy it was to navigate through the website depending on user's preferences, confirming the power of efficient user experience design. However, some expressed that the motion graphics, specifically icons, were misleading, and they should be changed. Further, some of the UI elements were not as conveying as the written texts, indicating that the design team had to go back and improve the interface design.

Overall, the project was a success, and I learned a lot not just as a designer but as a product team lead who oversaw every department and contributed to every step of the journey. The project provided me with lots of great insights on how the brand identity could be translated into the design of the company, and many exercises involving brand visual representation guided us through the design journey.