Designing a personal finance feature for Venmo’s app
Venmo, a mobile payment service owned by PayPal, has the mission to empower customers’ lives by allowing them to be in control of their payments. Although the current mobile app is very well-rated, Venmo sees an opportunity to expand their personal finance management capabilities.
Venmo has asked me to increase their offerings by providing users with personalized features that allow them to manage their personal finances.
This is a speculative project, and I am not affiliated with Venmo.
Client: Venmo (Speculative)
Duration: 80 hours
Role: UX/UI Designer
Identify Venmo’s target demographic
Determine how Venmo users manage their finances
Identify users’ goals, needs, motivations, and frustrations revolving around finance management
Identify the strengths and weaknesses of Venmo’s competitors
By conducting market research, I was able to identify peer-to-peer payment market trends and pain points while gaining a better picture of P2P payment mobile app users.
By observing Venmo’s direct and indirect competitors, I was able to observe how other products approach a similar problem. By identifying their strengths and weaknesses, I was able to evaluate how Venmo could have an edge in the market.
By creating provisional personas based on market research, I was able to narrow down the participants I would interview. I would validate or invalidate these personas with findings from user interviews.
I referred to Nielsen and Molich's 10 User Interface Design Heuristics and observed how they are integrated into Venmo. This helped me apply the heuristics to my own design of the new feature for Venmo.
1:1 User Interviews
I conducted 1:1 user interviews to tap into the goals, needs, motivations, and frustrations of participants revolving around using Venmo and managing their finances.
2 males, 4 females
I synthesized my findings from 1:1 user interviews in an empathy map in order to group patterns, pull insights from these patterns, and define user needs.
People try to cut down their spending.
People aim to save their money.
People have specific long-term financial goals.
People make investments for their future.
People need an easy way to cut down their spending.
People need an easy way to save their money.
People need to work toward their long-term financial goals.
People need to feel financially secure about their future.
By using my findings from user interviews, I created a user persona to define a target audience I would design for. Sarah constantly reminded me who I was designing for.
POV Statements and HMW Questions
To transition into the define stage, I created POV statements to define actionable problem statements from the user’s perspective. Then, I asked HMW questions to spark ideation sessions that helped me generate possible solutions to the correct challenges. (I ended up combining the insights about saving money and specific long-term goals since they overlapped.)
In order to focus on generating as many possible solutions as possible to the HMW questions, I conducted a brainstorming exercise by creating mind maps and setting a timer for 3 minutes for each HMW question for 2 rounds.
In order to generate even more possible solutions and gain different perspectives, I facilitated an online group brainstorming session by giving 4 participants 3 minutes each to come up with ideas for each HMW question. After they had time to come up with solutions on their own, we came together as a group to discuss these ideas.
Business and User Goals
Then, I created a Venn diagram to outline Venmo’s business and user goals and observe the shared goals among them. This reminded me to add value to the business with my designs while advocating for the user by providing the best user experience possible.
With all the possible solutions under my belt, it was important to create a product roadmap in order to prioritize the features that I would design.
To start planning out Venmo’s information architecture with the added feature, I created a sitemap to observe the structure of Venmo, its hierarchy, and the relationship between its screens. This helped me ensure that the flows between the screens would still feel intuitive to users, even with a new feature.
In order to observe the main actions users would carry out on Venmo with the new feature, I created a task flow. This helped me highlight key screens to design.
To understand the various ways users can interact with Venmo’s new feature, I created a user flow portraying my user persona, Sarah, in different scenarios. This allowed me to observe different pathways users can take on Venmo depending on the decisions they make. Again, this helped me highlight key screens to design for users to meet their goals.
As I created the the task and user flows, I created a UI requirements document to ensure that I would meet all the high-level and detailed requirements for each screen that I designed. This fluid document adapted to the changes I made to my designs throughout the project.
Low-Fidelity Wireframe Sketches
By referring to my sitemap and UI requirements document, I created low-fidelity wireframe sketches to start planning the screens I would design efficiently. I was able to observe the structure, hierarchy, and layout of each screen before adding any content.
My designs came to life in the high-fidelity wireframes. I designed Venmo’s existing screens by using screenshots from my iPhone XS. I made sure to follow Venmo brand guidelines as I added the new budget planner feature to Venmo to ensure that the new feature would not disrupt the current user experience.
With my high-fidelity wireframes ready, I created a functional prototype on InVision in order to prepare for usability testing. This prototype would allow me to observe how users interact with my designs before the new feature is launched.
I conducted usability testing with 5 participants in total, 2 females and 3 males, ranging from ages 21 to 33. The moderated in-person think aloud usability tests lasted approximately 10 minutes each. I informed all participants that we would test a new feature on Venmo’s mobile app. I gave them 3 tasks to complete on Venmo’s prototype, and asked them to walk me through what they were doing out loud. As users carried out these tasks, I documented their actions, comments, and questions. I asked clarifying questions throughout the sessions when necessary. Usability testing allowed me to uncover user pain points and make improvements to Venmo’s new feature.
Pay your friend, Lisa Smith, back for paying for your food. Make sure you add this payment to your Food budget category when you pay her.
Add the payment of $10 in the Entertainment category of your budget.
You are saving up for your dream car, and you just saved up $40 to contribute to this goal. You want this to be reflected in your savings goals.
I synthesized my findings from usability testing in an affinity map to observe patterns, pull insights, and identify recommendations in order to make improvements to Venmo’s new feature.
People were unable to recognize the budget icon on the Pay or Request screen when they were prompted to add a Venmo payment to their budget.
People tried to update their budgets on the budget screen.
People were unaware that clicking on the edit transaction icon in the budget feature would allow them to update their budget and goals.
People claimed having trouble with tasks because they were unfamiliar with the new budget feature.
Change the budget icon from a graph icon to a piggy bank to better represent a budget.
Allow users to update their budgets directly on the budget screen.
Remove the edit transaction icon in the budget feature. Allow users to update their budgets on the budget screen and their goals on the goals screen.
Indicate that the budget feature is new to make users aware of its existence.
To ensure that I would follow Venmo’s brand guidelines in order to integrate the budget planner feature into the mobile app seamlessly, I first created a mood board with Venmo’s brand elements, layout, and images.
Then, I created a style tile and UI kit to ensure that I used elements that aligned with Venmo’s brand.
With the feedback from usability testing, I made improvements to my high-fidelity prototype to improve the overall user experience of Venmo’s new feature.
My experience has mainly revolved around designing for the web and designing from scratch, so adding a new feature within an existing mobile app proved to be a challenging and invaluable experience for me. At first, I thought, “Oh, this shouldn’t be hard. The brand guidelines are already established.” But there was a lot more to this project than I thought. For one, Venmo uses its own icons, so I had to try my best to recreate them.
Adhering to the brand guidelines was another obstacle. As I referred to competitor budgeting mobile apps, I gathered many ideas, but I realized that I couldn’t execute them all because Venmo doesn’t include certain elements such as infographics.
However, it was fun trying to come up with ways to fit this new feature seamlessly into the app. It felt rewarding to see my ideas come to life within a brand that has added value to my own life for many years.
Now that my high-fidelity prototype of Venmo with a new budget planning feature is ready to be launched, I will hand off my designs to a developer. I will continue to make improvements to the new feature by gaining feedback and conducting more usability tests.