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From sketch to code – the timeline of Timeline

To celebrate ClearScore's latest feature, Timeline, Justin Basini reflects on the journey from sketch to code

It was about 18 months ago that I sketched out the first version of Timeline – the new feature that we’re launching today. It’s been a long, long journey. Much longer than originally planned, and we have learnt a lot.

We’ve had it on the site as a ‘Coming soon’ since day one and I’m really proud that today, after weeks of alpha and beta testing, it has launched for all our users. Timeline demonstrates ClearScore’s ongoing commitment to innovation, moving our product forward and always doing it for free, forever.

Why did we create Timeline?

Timeline answers a long held frustration of mine that I’ve had around credit report and score data. Most credit reports have 6 years of borrowing details including payments, balances and spending. Your credit score changes all the time and will change as you use different financial products. However most credit report products don’t do anything with this rich history over time.

We wanted to change that. I think that seeing the ebb and flow of your financial data contained in your credit report and score can be fascinating. So we decided to build a view that would take all the data and map it over time. You can see your credit score change over time, you can see your short term and long term debts rise and fall. We’ve also built in the positive and negative factors in your score so that you can see these change over time.

Adding meaning to your data

If, like me, you are a user of credit then Timeline provides reminders of credit spend in a much more meaningful way than just a flat report. I can see the spike of a big holiday a few years ago and the few months it took to pay it off. I can see my balances rise as money was tight and I needed to dip into my credit.

Sometimes the link between your credit score and your financial behaviour can be a little vague. Timeline doesn’t draw complete parallels because there are many, many factors that go into a credit score but seeing your financial story over time can certainly give some indication and a greater sense of control.

The challenges of creating Timeline

The process of developing Timeline wasn’t easy- it’s taken over a year from first design to implementation. The challenges were four fold:

  • The design. Frank and I knew we wanted to produce something which whilst a “graph” was still friendly, engaging, elegant and easy to use. I think we have done this. The colours and transparencies hold the eye and represent the data well. The scales overlay on top of each of other so each line is separate yet visible.
  • The data. We get your credit report data from our partner Equifax and the data feed had been analysed to deliver into our beautiful version of your report. However, when we tried to convert it into Timeline, this proved problematic. Through hard work and persistence we managed to adapt the API to support Timeline.
  • The interactions. It’s all very well to design for a flat sketch (that’s what I love to do!!) but in today’s multi-device and touch enabled world, how the Timeline reacts to clicks and touches was difficult to get right, and required several iterations. Now you can move seamlessly though from one layer to the next by clicking or touching the line. Every circle is clickable and reveals more information. You can see your Timeline over years or months.
  • The information to not include. Timeline is a great view now but we had to drop some valuable data like searches to get it out on time. We have a stream of iterations that will layer in more and more information into Timeline so it becomes a richer and richer experience. I can’t wait to roll out some of the ideas we have to make Timeline even cooler.

A big thank you to our testers

Thanks to all the team who have worked so hard on Timeline- especially Antony Cooper, one of our front end developers, who worked diligently and patiently to hone the experience. Thanks also to the hundreds of users who tested Timeline over the past couple of months and thanks for your feedback and ideas – we have integrated them into our development plans.

There is much more to come

Over the coming weeks we are releasing several new features which “complete” version 1 of ClearScore which I sketched out in September 2014. I hope you like where we are taking ClearScore and thank you for using our product.

Vision + Time + Effort = ClearScore = the very best way to see your credit report and score (and it’s always free).

Justin

 

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