Designing Nubank Ultravioleta: purple, metalic and premium

Reinventing the premium experience in the credit card industry from Brazil

When I first joined Nubank two years ago, I never would have imagined that I would end up designing a product for a whole new customer segment: the Nubank Ultravioleta premium credit card.

In this article, I’ll be sharing my journey throughout this complex and ambiguous process of creating a product for a whole new market — a process that not only tested my design skills, but also required a whole lot of resilience to deal with ever-changing, complex, and ambiguous circumstances.

Our biggest challenge so far

Nubank is one of the most loved companies in Brazil, known for saving mass-market customers from bureaucracy and mistreatment by traditional banks. Before Ultravioleta’s launch, Nubank hadn’t been able to innovate in the same way for the upmarket segment though. Nubank didn’t have a premium product offering that actually made sense for their lives.

This upmarket segment, of course, has the potential to be very profitable, but the real reason behind deciding to tackle this segment was we understood that a great portion of them is not well served by traditional banks.

Our main skills as a company — simple experience and great support — would definitely make people’s lives better, so we decided to try and experiment with that new path.

Defining success

Launching Nubank Ultravioleta was the biggest thing we did after launching the original no-fee credit card that made Nubank so famous.

Settings up some goals would help us make clear decisions when facing ambiguous questions, so whenever in doubt, we could check them as orientation. These goals were defined as a team effort involving the squad, the design chapter, and the executive team.

  • Killer MLP. Our product must not only serve our customer’s needs but actually delight them.
  • “Great enough” experience. People expect us to deliver great products, this is not different for the long waited black card. The experience must live up to expectations without compromising time-to-market.
  • Challenge our own status quo. Defying NuDS, our design system, so we can embrace the new Ultravioleta brand.
  • Teach people how to use it. Onboard people to the new ways the credit card works, especially considering the numberless card.
  • Be different. Every premium product works the same way in Brazil, and all of them offer unnecessary complexity, we should get distance from that reality and show that being simple and good is possible.

Our approach to Nubank Ultravioleta

The process of designing a new product is hard, and that’s ok, it requires resilience and teamwork through volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous contexts. It involves a lot of back and forth and is definitely not as clean as the picture below.

No design theory helped me go through launching this product without fear of failure, self-consciousness, and lots of joy. But at this point, I’m trying to show all steps I needed to go through with the team to make Nubank Ultravioleta happen — and most of these steps I had help from crazy talented people in a multidisciplinary squad

We worked together with product managers, product marketing managers, business analysts, engineers, content, brand and motion designers, researchers, and more.

Nubank Ultravioleta. The process is chaotic and requires resilience and teamwork through many back and forths.

Learning from our customers

Nubank Ultravioleta took us more than one year to understand and define until we could actually start developing. Many interviews, experimentations, analyses, and co-creations were made with our customers and our team.

We did that until we were confident we designed a product that was able to defy our premium status quo in Brazil and actually help our customers have a better life.

During the process, we learned a lot, from how did people expect a premium product to fit their lives to how every feature should function in the app.

These were the main learnings from our customers to build Nubank Ultravioleta:

Card design

People don’t want only to show off with a premium piece of plastic (metal in this case). Our customers are challengers by nature, they want to feel unique — but not completely different — within their circles.

“I made it” feeling

For our target, being a premium customer is not about announcing they have money, but to feel they finally “made it”, that their effort got them in a better place. Almost like an award.

Keep it simple

People want simplicity, but they can’t find it. Traditional banks will offer slow, unstable, or difficult to understand services on purpose so people give up or just can’t redeem their benefits. And if they go through it all, it will take days or even weeks for them to actually receive the benefits they redeemed.

Beauty matters

People make emotional decisions about the products they use as a form of expression (and then they use logic to justify it). Being visually appealing (on and offline) would be a great differentiator to our product.

“I want to feel safe”

Safety is a big concern for premium customers. Using black cards can draw some attention and they don’t like it.

A fair relationship

People want their relationships with banks to be fair. If they are loyal and give value to the company, they expect a bit of that back in return. Banks offer crazy p̶r̶o̶f̶i̶t̶a̶b̶l̶e complicated conversions so people won’t understand if that product is good or not for them, and that’s by design:

Traditional bank’s flow to redeem credit card benefits is designed to be complicated and slow, so people don’t understand it.

Designing main features for Nubank Ultravioleta

After understanding our target, designing the business model, and product MVP we started creating the functionalities and experience. Here I bring the most important components of the new experience:

1. User core journey

Defining how the features would work was key to keep the experience simple from the first moment, which helps people feel that this is a fair product. Completely different than what they are used to see in the market.

We simplified the earning system, removing unnecessary currencies like US$ or Points — people spend in R$ and get R$ back to use as they wish.

Also, inverted the time pressure not only stoping the cashback from expiring but actually making it grow over time. And created clear and automatic fee waiver rules so they won’t have to go through an hour-long phone call with a manager begging to remove the annual fee.

No complicated conversions with Nubank Ultravioleta. A simple fair system that works for our customer’s reality, and not our company’s desires.

2. Acquisition

Making the game rules simple to understand, from features to pricing and the waiver conditions in a transparent way. No small print!

The goal is to build the new Nubank Ultravioleta brand at the same time we keep it functional, helping people compare Nubank Ultravioleta with other players in the market, and decide what is best for them.

The acquisition flow of Nubank Ultravioleta defies and improves our design system. This way we were able to offer a more immersive experience that leverages the new brand being built.

To reach the level of sophistication our customers expected from a premium product, we dedicated ourselves even to the smallest details.

Implementing the new marketing screen required not only lots of experimentation to challenge our design system but also fine-tuning every visual element.

We pushed ourselves to provide an awesome immersive experience for every device from the new blurry buttons to the card video looping on the background.

Left: Close button seamlessly mixes with the layout | Middle: Subtle video enhancing the card’s metallic finish | Right: Call to Action floats on scroll, without disrupting the look and feel.

Several layout rules defined how the marketing screen should be built so the experience would always be full screen independently of the device size.

Defining how engineering should behave so we would have consistency across many screen sizes for Nubank Ultravioleta.

3. Onboarding

Nubank Ultravioleta is a different product in the Brazilian market. Having a numberless card significantly improves safety but also requires our customers to understand and use virtual cards in-app to make online purchases.

Onboarding people related to how they create and use virtual cards is key for their success with their new product, and of course, offers the simplicity they expect our card to provide — a nice touch was to customize the end of the onboarding to offer Apple Pay and Google Pay according to the device the person is using to activate the card.

The onboarding flow of Nubank Ultravioleta has an eye-catching animation that guides people through the few steps.

4. Dashboard

To achieve our simplicity goal, which makes this a great experience, different from any other competitor, we created an easy-to-access dashboard in-app that helps our customers have real-time information and redeem their benefits instantly. That is: with no traumatic slow environments, and week-long redeeming periods to go through.

Simple and fast flows empower our customers to confidently redeem their benefits with Nubank Ultravioleta.

Nubank Ultravioleta: the results

We believe we created a credit card that respects our customer’s needs and gives them the flexibility to use as they wish — not only choosing what they want to do with their benefits, but until they make a decision their benefits grow over time, instead of expiring. Hopefully, we’ll share more of our accomplishments as we learn them.

We can’t wait to see how people will use Nubank Ultravioleta. Of course, many well-known features and experiences were set aside with the MVP and now we have time to bring them back, but we’re eager to learn more and improve Ultravioleta every day to make this the best premium product in the market.

Thanks for reading, and if you have been through something similar, or have questions, I’ll be happy to read your comments below.

— Thank you Amanda Legge and Renato de Souza for the reviews and feedback 💜

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