Key Dates

17 November 2022 - Launch Deadline
1 December 2022 - Standard Deadline
19 December 2022 - Extended Deadline
22 December 2022 - Judging
19 January 2023 - Winners Announced

Design research to empower economic independence for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders

Image Credit : Victoria Gillie - Experience Designer, Portable





Project Overview

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) is a statutory authority that has been assisting and enhancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people self-management and economic self-sufficiency for 30 years. It offers services including loans and support to help First Nations people own their own home, business finance and support to help people start or grow a business, and an investment portfolio focused on making a positive impact for communities and partners.

Portable is an Australian-based human-centred design research and technology agency with a purpose-driven mission to drive transformational change in areas of social need and policy failure. Our delivery partners, Ngakkan Nyaagu (NGNY) are an Aboriginal owned and operated digital services agency who deliver tailored digital solutions that enhance the Indigenous digital economy and ultimately aim to impact sustainable growth and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

IBA recognised that they needed a customer-informed digital strategy to provide them with a clear pathway forward in its digital uplift and redesign of the website. They knew that its website could play a larger role in helping customers, both current and future, to feel more in control of their journey towards economic independence by providing more accessible information, self-service tools and transparency around the loan process.

Working together, Portable and NGNY talked to IBA customers and staff to define a blueprint for how a new website could make complex financial information accessible, enable self-service and give customers a feeling of control in their journey to economic self-determination.

Project Commissioner

Indigenous Business Australia

Project Creator

Portable and NGNY


Liam Ridgeway, Co-Founder, Ngakkan Nyaagu (NGNY)
Tom Morris, Senior Producer, Portable
Peter Roper, Senior Content Strategist, Portable
Matt Dalla Rosa, Senior UX Researcher, Portable
Ryan Thompson, Senior Design Strategist, Portable
Naomi Wilson, Client Partner Lead, Portable

Project Brief

IBA had been rolling out a number of digital upgrades and enhancements of its systems and hardware as part of its Digital Futures project, including improving the digital user experience. Their current website was built in 2011, using WordPress, and they planned to complete a redesign and rebuild of the website in the near future. To kick off that website redesign and rebuild with clarity, they engaged Portable and NGNY to create a digital strategy to set the direction in alignment with user expectations and accessibility.

Our combined project team conducted user-centred design research to find out how the IBA website could become a go-to resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people focused on business ownership, home ownership or investments.

We planned our project, comprising methods to collect both qualitative and quantitative data, to answer how IBA could best meet its goals of providing:

- a go-to resource for any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person interested in IBA’s products and services
- a seamless customer experience for those looking to apply for a home loan, business loans or support, or investment advice or support
- a rich experience with useful tools, information and resources on how to purchase a home, start, grow or buy a business, or invest or seek investment opportunities
- a place of inspiration and to help celebrate and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture and the valuable contribution our First Nations people have on the Australian economy.

Project Innovation/Need

The digital strategy our team created as an outcome of this project included a comprehensive blueprint that could be used to design and build a new IBA website that will deliver on identified user needs in ways that reflect IBA’s vision, purpose and values.

We envisioned and provided a roadmap forward for a new website that will be the go-to resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the journey of economic independence. Recognising that it will need to provide a seamless experience, be rich with tools and information, and inspire, celebrate and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture and their valuable economic contributions.

We took a human-centred design approach to the engagement and conducted 32 in-depth interviews, with business customers, home loan customers, customer service staff, Executives, and Indigenous organisations that have a partner relationship with IBA and who use its website. Qualitative insights from these engagements were augmented with insights gained from an analysis of Google Analytics data from the existing site to understand current website performance, and identify any clues as to where visitors were getting lost or confused; alongside our findings from a tech review of the current website’s codebase and back-end.

Design Challenge

We provided recommendations that together comprise a vision for a future-state website that is more welcoming, easier to use, informative and helpful to customers. This included recommendations covering information architecture, tools and services, content, the homepage, visual design, and technology.

All recommendations were based on the user research, tech audit, analysis of google analytics and work completed on redesigning and testing a new information architecture and the combined experience and knowledge of best practice within the team.

The future state blueprint showed all recommendations on 1 diagram. It’s a vision of a future state in which the website is welcoming, informative, empowering and easy to use. This blueprint complemented the contents of our final report by bringing the insights and recommendations to life visually.

The artefact gives a high-level view of how the recommendations come together and connect holistically into a future experience. It also gives decision-makers an easy reference point for how individual recommendations fall into various aspects for the website and IBA’s digital presence, and how future decisions can be anchored in the user-centric themes that have emerged from our research.

Future Impact

User research revealed a wide breadth of insights into how business customers, home loan customers, staff and stakeholders in the Indigenous sector view and use the website, and the role it plays in their relationship with IBA.

These insights are empowering IBA to continue to develop a website that will be easy to use, easy to understand and, ultimately, will help people take control of their financial future.

Our final report outlined three overarching themes that can help us understand what customers want from the website:

- Meet me in the middle: create a safe space for the community to meet and connect with IBA, as well as other customers and stakeholders.

- Connect me with the community: people want to hear and see the stories of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their journeys.

- Let me feel in control: customers want more control of their engagement with IBA, to better manage the expectations and pace of their relationship.

Projects that expand and grow the economy through additive methods rather than extraction, encompassing circular economy, environmental. equity and community values.
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