CAL Automotive

Thoughtful UX & feature upgrades create a smoother ride for a high-profile car-leasing web app


CAL Automotive has spent 30 years promoting effortless car leasing programs. Targeted UX & web app feature upgrades helped their keep that promise.

As a long-standing partner to auto dealers, lessees, and third parties throughout the East Coast, the client team needed to upgrade the app to allow customers to easily create, view, and manage accounts — and admins to streamline tracking, reporting, and communications.

Pain Points & Challenges

The existing portal felt like a prototype: It lacked necessary features, and those that existed fell short of user expectations. Everything from layout to CTAs to form validation logic was underperforming or unclear.

The app was meant to be self-service, but because it didn’t work as intended, it caused customer frustration and time-consuming support calls.

Not all self-service is effective… Good self-service gives [customers] faster access to the information they need, allows them to control their experience without needing to call/email, offers a clear path to live support when necessary & frees up staff.

Help Scout

SOLUTIONS: Strategy Meets Creativity

Starting with recorded user sessions, heatmaps, and holistic logging data, we identified the main friction points facing portal users. Microsoft Clarity and FullStory session reviews allowed us to pinpoint exactly where people were struggling — and on which devices.

The issues we uncovered included:

  • Unclear language — especially on the dashboard — which added to user journey confusion.
  • Unreliable and unpredictable experiences due to recurring errors in data formatting, balance information, lease payoff quotes, payment due and lease termination dates, and payment notifications.
  • Challenges in linking bank accounts for recurring ACH payments.

UX-Informed App Development

While the fundamental architecture of the portal application was sound, we found opportunities to strengthen brittle programming logic and protect against large-scale errors that can come from inconsistent user input and data formatting.

Using what we learned, we also created a more intuitive visual design of key portions of the app, added new features, and improved back-end functionality and error checking to enable CAL Auto’s audiences and admins to reach their reported goals on key pages, with a focus on optimized mobile user experiences.

To allow admins to pull accurate data in real time and reduce redundancies across the board, we configured the app to integrate with file feeds from CAL Auto’s internal customer databases.

We integrated features and solutions with third-party APIs — including SalesForce, Twilio for 2FA, and PayerExpress for automated payments — making recommendations for higher-performing or cost-saving alternatives when needed.

Other UX enhancements include:

Improved user-facing language makes it easier for lessees to understand pricing models and overall portal functionality.

CTA buttons are now designed and configured to look and act like buttons, and form field requirements are clear.

Updates to the Laravel web framework ensure prompt payment confirmations and prevent customer double payments and overdrafts.

Improvements to the autopay function reduce fraud risk and ensure legal compliance for recurring payment processing.

Reconfigured permissions allow customers to have more than one lease per account.

When deployed, the upgrades lessened the burden on CAL Auto’s staff as support requests went down — and stayed down — even after new users came on board. This eliminated the need to hire additional support and provided better overall experiences for lessees and dealers alike.

Ongoing app maintenance and project management includes update deployment, feature enhancements, security risk mitigation, and quality assurance.