Ellie Mae: Redesigning the #1 mortgage application in the US

project summary

Ellie Mae’s Encompass is the mortgage industry’s leading application, accounting for 30% of all US mortgage accounts. Faced with growing competition and mandatory 508 compliance, our team was tapped to redesign the visual framework for this complex, heavily-regulated enterprise application.

From discovery through delivery, we would run stakeholder sprints, tested with users, ideate themes through components. Deliverables ranged from HTML and CSS to redlined mocks.


Design lead and team manager. My team included both EchoUser and Ellie Mae designers and developers. Concepts and design vision, UX and UI design, testing, and front-end liaison.

I led the team through Ellie Mae’s transition from a siloed, hierarchical, eng-first environment to a user-centered, test-oriented, collaborative organization. This required me to wear multiple hats from design vision, user research, lead stakeholder shepherd, to UI design.

Key contributions

I lead the team in supporting multiple streams of research including surveys, 1:1 interviews, field and A/B testing using Ellie Mae cohorts.

I lead the team in UI and UX design and product principles, heavily influencing Ellie Mae’s brand design in the process.

I contributed to the product vision using self-management collaboration methods such as advice trees and getting rid of consensus behavior. I managed to evolve the product significantly through the use of affinity mapping, sustained user research, and by establishing design principles grounded in multiple personas and accessibility.

Results & Impact

  • >80+ CSAT
  • An increase of ROI from $600+ to $950 in operational savings and improvements
  • A renewed product vision that includes machine learning
  • 508 compliance
  • A redesigned, cohesive visual design and UI framework
  • Feedback and collaboration methods that align all product features

the challenge

Establish a renewed visual framework

With competition closing fast and succeeding with consumer-sensible UX, our task was to redesign this complex, heavily-regulated enterprise application with the specific goal of enhancing the mortgage creation and management experience.



Primary form design

The 1003 Form is the foundation for every mortgage application. The information inputted and gleaned from the 1003 is coordinated and disseminated across many vested parties.

Form 1003 iteration 1

Homepage iteration 2

Homepage iteration 3

Final 1003 design


The mortgage pipeline is the queue of all applications in process. The great challenge is mitigating the user demand for data density against the principles of accessibility.

content feed iteration 1

content feed iteration 2

content feed iteration 3

Final Pipeline design

Navigation framework

A navigation system for an enterprise application like Encompass would need to meet the needs of multiple types of users, often viewing the same document simultaneously. With so many primary use cases, navigation also had to serve as a dashboard as well.

navigation and components

the results

Q118 Rollout

Implementation of our framework began in Q1 of 2018 after many rounds of user testing with results consistently above 80 CSAT. Most significantly our designs have improved the mortgage offices ROI from $600 to over $950 in savings per mortgage. With Ellie Mae serving at least 30% of all mortgage creations in the US, this is a tremendous win for design.

final thoughts

The team I had for this project was truly special; with both junior and seasoned designers, we became something more than the sum of its parts, delivering a long-lasting, impactful design to one of the most important companies in the US.