$atisfied is a retrospective money app that helps you increase your confidence with every purchase and improve money decisions with every use. Evaluate your transactions by swiping left or right. $atisfied will get insights on your spending to make financial suggestions.
My role
Created the product from scratch
UX/ UI, Visual Design, Motion Design
User Research, Usability Testing
Results
This product concept has got acknowledged by PMs & senior designers from Fintech companies for having great business potential.  
How might we help these college students to be mindful about their spending for a brighter financial future?

$atisfied's onboarding assures users that the app understands their financial situations and has their goals in mind. 

Purchase Evaluations

On a daily basis, $atisfied prompts users to evaluate their last purchases by swiping left or right. The evaluation results are visualized on the dashboard in real time and suggestions are made at the end of users' evaluations.

Dynamic Budget 

After setting their monthly budget goal and prioritizing which spending category they want to work on, $atisfied generates a budget for each category. The app analyzes users' evaluation inputs and adjusts budgets accordingly.

Offers on Your Purchases

After using it for a period of time, $atisfied starts to offer users customized purchase solutions as well as services that help them save money.

A clear view of your financial situation

Homepage gives users a clear view into their financial situation and choice. It also reminds users of their daily tasks.

Challenge

According to a survey done by Ohio State University, seven out of 10 college students in the United States are worried about their finances. These students are not satisfied with their spending and suffering from paying their student loans. How might we help these college students to be mindful about their spending for a brighter financial future?

 

My goals were:

1. Design a budgeting app that can help college students form better spending habit

2. Apply hook loop into my design

Design Toolkits

Design Process

To understand people's dissatisfaction with their spending thoroughly, I started my thesis project by studying the economy's influence on individual spending habit as well as consumer psychology. I interviewed users and conducted competitor analysis to learn how users behave and where the opportunity lies.  

Then I brainstormed the solutions based on the insights. To test the feasibility of my concepts,  I did user testing with users and UX designers who work at Fintech startups.

From their feedbacks, I improved my concept and craft more solid user flows. I tested with my users again to iterate the wireframe and UI language. I analyzed existing apps' design and material design case studies in order to define my app's personality. From this, I applied the visual design, users interaction, and motion design to the final prototype.

Secondary Research: 

Why people are not satisfied with their spending?​

An economy's goal is to grow by increasing every consumer's spending. In an ideal state, the economy delivers products or services that meet consumer's preference in order to maximize their utility and satisfy their need. 

In reality, consumers' preferences grow parallelly with product innovation. The market tries to persuade consumers that they need some products through advertisements and peer pressure, creating preferences for them. This leads to consumer's impulsive spending on products that only enhance their utility in the very short term.  From a larger scale, these consumption generates social divide, ecological divide, and spiritual-cultural divide. 
 

Insight from this research:

To break these vicious cycles of consumption, People need to be retrospective about their spending.

Competitor Analysis

I chose 18 personal finance apps and did user interviews on whether these apps help their users form a better spending habit. Meanwhile,  I examined some traditional budgeting method, such as zero-based budgeting, kakeibo, and double-entry bookkeeping. It turns out there are mainly two categories. Apps like YNAB and Mvelope require a huge amount of effort from users in order for them to be more clear about where to spend money. Imagine for every week you need to sit down and plan your budget on the laptop for three hours. The process could be rewarding, but it's time-consuming and not user-friendly for beginners. On the other end, apps like Mint and Clarity show only general information about the user’s monthly spending. It’s very easy for users to see their spending pattern, but hardly to inform and nudge users to change their behaviors.

Insight from competitive analysis:

There is an opportunity for my app which requires a little user effort but still being constructive and useful for college students to kick start their money management and form a healthy spending habit. 

Users interviews

The interviewee took into account both college students and new graduates who have or plan to change their spending habits through budgeting. The interview took approximately 1 hour and included topics to get to the core of their motivation, their budget method, and their problems. I asked these questions:

  • What motivates you to budget?

  • What budgeting methods did you try? 

  • Did you try any budget app? Does it work? 

  • When do you feel great about your spending?

Insights from interviews:

Conceptualization & Testing

Based on the insights, I brainstormed some seemingly feasible solutions. Then I developed two low-fi prototypes and tested them with both users and designers who work in Paypal, Intuit, PayActiv, Etsy and Halleman Bradley.

1/3

Insights from their feedbacks:

  • The app should provide actionable suggestions to users instead of telling users what to do. It's essential to make users feel they are in control.

  • Users prefer encouragement to punishments when the app nudges users' behaviors. 

  • All the successful budgeting apps have a budgeting philosophy behind them, for example, YNAB is based on zero-budgeting methods.

Concept: $atisfied 

Those insights helped me further iterate my concept. Finally, I decided to design an app that requires small user input but still nudge their spending behavior in the long run: $atisfied is a retrospective money app that helps you increase your confidence with every purchase and improve money decisions with every use. Evaluate your transactions by swiping left or right. $atisfied will get insights on your spending to make financial suggestions.

Prototyping & Testing

Challenges I faced during prototyping:

  • How to show user benefit of the app on the onboarding process

  • How to balance the information provided in each user interface 

  • Align the UI language and interaction design with the brand

User Flows

The user flow helped informed my wireframe design and ensured the functionality is always placed in the right place. For example, during the onboarding process, the user has the option to skip the questions and it will lead users to a mock homepage instead of a real one for users to see what they will get on the homepage.

Wireframe

To me, wireframe was not only designed to build the structure and architecture of the information but also provided a guideline of how users will interact with the app. So I experimented with some visual design & motion design elements in designing wireframes.

Visual Design

To differentiate from other budgeting apps and align with the branding, I chose the typeface and colors that represent calmness and rationality.

Learning

In engaging myself with this in-depth and challenging process, I realized the importance of prioritizing tasks and the necessity of user testing in every step. The users' feedbacks helped me quickly adjust my user flows to meet their needs. Apart from that, through trial-and-error in applying hooked loop to the design, I learn the current limitation and potential of digital platforms in changing users' behaviors. 

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