Sapling's Time Off Product

Sapling’s Time Off product  provides an intuitive way for HR teams to track time off across different locations. Launching this allowed Sapling to enter a new market (Core HR Software for the mid-market), and has contributed to a 40% increase in  annual recurring revenue.

  • Role: UX Design
  • Platform: Desktop


When I joined, Sapling had one product they were selling-- an employee onboarding tool. HR admins would import new hires from an applicant tracking system, such as Lever or Greenhouse, and onboard them in Sapling. They could allocate tasks and documents for them to sign, and employees would use Sapling to learn about their team members, and to fill out forms.

1. Low Engagement
Our most engaged users (tool admins) made up less than 1% of our total userbase. Managers and employees (the other two target users) were not logging back into Sapling after their first day
2. Lost Revenue
Many potential prospects chose other solutions over Sapling due to missing functionality, specifically time off tracking
But what...whats an HRIS?🤔

Before continuing further, it would be helpful to define what "HRIS" stands for, as the term is used quite a bit in this write up.



There was a signficant need from potential and existing customers


Both users also mentioned that if they ever needed something quite expensive (in my interview I mentioned a lawnmower), they would first go to a friend or family member. If they knew their neighbors, they wouldn’t mind asking them too, but both had never tried. Both users were very open to sharing items if someone needed it. Getting paid was preferred as a way to secure the condition.

Market and User Research

Using this data, I put together two personas:

Creating these personas allowed me to focus needs and tasks that were driven by users themselves, rather than pulling from assumptions.



At this point, I documented my feature requirements into stories, making the decision to continue as a renting app.

To keep the flow simple for this first version, I removed a few user stories for later versions (ability to request an item to be fulfilled, and the ability to block users). To outline the user flow of the onboarding and signup process, I referenced the UI for Mercari, a classifieds app that allows users to sell used clothing. Mercari allows you to browse items first before creating an account, which would later be important for this app to prevent any early dropoff.

My user flow ended looking like a mess, so I organized it through a site map. This helped me think through the layers of the app, organizing my primary and secondary navigation bars. An anchored tab bar seemed best to jump between sections of the app.

Admin Experience

My user flow ended looking like a mess, so I organized it through a site map. This helped me think through the layers of the app, organizing my primary and secondary navigation bars. An anchored tab bar seemed best to jump between sections of the app.

Keeping with the warm, neighborhood theme, I searched for a font that reminded me of my own hometown of San Jose. San Jose is your typical sunny suburb. I spent most weekends from April through September at the beach nearby, and wanted to somehow bring that into the logo. Pacifico is a bold, bush script that still looks very modern. Using this once in the logo and app icon will make it memorable.

Bariol is used as the primary type for the app. It’s a slightly condensed serif that is still modern for a mobile app. The rounded type complements the logo.


This ended up being quicker than I imagined thanks to my notes and user flows already being complete. The challenge was fitting the elements into that precious amount of iOS screen real estate. Particularly, I found the following areas to be challenging:

  • Filtering items: What information did users care about? On which screen should they be able to adjust location?
  • Browsing items: How much information should be revealed before a user clicks "rent"

I wanted to tell the brand story through a simple tutorial at the user’s first download. Sign up options would be email or Facebook. I debated using Nextdoor as an alternate sign up, but decided against it for now until it grows internationally. In the bottom navigation, I highlighted the “add” icon by increasing its size and position. This is a new app, and we should make it as easy as possible to snap a photo of an item to post on the platform.

Another piece that was added during the wireframing phase was the “inbox” screen. This was a central place for users to manage all conversations. Prior to renting out an item, you may ask a question about it to a previous renter, or you may want to use that feature to set a meetup location. This could also be a central place for Lendmate to communicate to all its users in the app (versus email). Use-cases for this would be a feature announcement, or a promotion.

As I converted everything to high fidelity, I realized that messages wouldn’t be the best way to track/manage all of a user’s planned rentals. If a user has listed 30 items on the platform and on an average day half of them are being utilized by others, then it would be a nightmare to remember it all.

To solve this, I built a native calendar that would track all past, current and upcoming rentals.

For rating and reviews, I leveraged Usabilty Hub’s Preference test feature to help me a finalize where a user would add feedback for an item.

Once completely finished, I wanted to challenge myself a bit further by practicing some Guerilla Usability Testing at a busy park in San Francisco. I approached a few strangers, telling them about my project and asked for a few minutes of their time. Here are the results:

  • Total Users: three
  • Total Tasks: Two each; participants were asked to use Lendmate to search for a nearby item, as well as locating bookmarked items.
  • Completion rate of tasks: 80%
  • Average length per task: 50 seconds (above the goal of 30 seconds)
  • The biggest piece of feedback was around text sizes and styles; it was too small to read for most users.

The feedback I received from these users, as well as my mentor was invaluable. Below is the final prototype (created with Marvel):

What I Learned

I’ve heard the term “feature creep” in previous jobs before, but it wasn’t until my role in this project that I felt its impact. I found myself actively going back to my initial project goals to prevent further additions to the app.

This was also a lesson in setting up a more efficient design workflow. With every new element added in Sketch, I found myself working faster, thanks to its symbol feature. I also heavily utilized Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines to guide some decision making.

As a next step, I would tighten up a few animations (for example, in the onboarding flow) using a tool like Principle. I would also look more closely at how users are interacting with each other in the “messages” feature. It’s my priority that users feel safe on the Lendmate app, so adding some rules to prevent abuse or foul language would be a necessary as it scales. An idea here is to pre-populate messages in the UI (canned responses).

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