A Shift In Scope

This week, instead of wrapping up the remaining screens needed for the app we were given a scenario. Our task was to implement new features from a company that our bank had acquired. The features revolved around financial modeling, statistical trends, and managing spending habits. To create these screens I looked at several apps and secondary sources to create an experience for the user that allows them gain valuable insights into their spending habits. The app also gives recommendations on these insights that present ways the user might save money or change habitual excessive spending.

Testing This Week

Last week in class we learned about Cognitive Walkthroughs and Heuristic Evaluation, both of which are tools a designer uses to gather feedback. Cognitive Walkthrough is defined as, “A method for evaluating the learnability of a product, based on a theory of problem solving in unfamiliar situations.” Heuristic Evaluation is where you, “compare an interface to an established list of best practices to identify usability problems.” Much like Usability testing the methods focus on a user and whether not the interface makes sense to the user. The difference between cognitive walkthroughs and heuristic evaluation, and Usability testing is they do not require testing with a person. Our faculty urged us in class to lean more towards Usability Testing going forward into roles outside the school because the data you gather from açtual people is always going to be richer. That being said, I was curious to try Cognitive Walkthrough to see if it proved to be useful.

Getting Ideas

I started by sketching out my new screens and I quickly began to go no where. I was not in the space to create up something from scratch. So I went to Mint, a budgeting app I have on my phone that allows me to see trends and budgets I have set up for my spending. I personally have never really like Mint because after the initial download and the cool visuals have worn off, there’s no real value in simply seeing that I am going over budget. I have always wanted to have the app tell me specific ways to reduce spending habits and because of this assignment I was given an opportunity to create a feature that did just that.

Molding Two Ideas

You might remember in my previous blog post that I decide to focus the user interface of my banking app around the idea of an in-and-out framework. I admire baking apps like Venmo or Cash that allow its users to get into the app and quickly perform their task and be done with it. The current Randolph Brooks app is confusing and it’s a long winded journey doing even the simplest of tasks like checking your actual Checking balance. So, I decided that instead of creating a new page or section dedicated to optimizing spending and seeing trends, that I would just modify the existing Accounts page to include these trends. I created an accounts page similar to home page in Mint with transactions and budget snapshots being on the first page. However, I made sure to ask “Will the user try to achieve the right affect?” with each goal the user is trying to accomplish, as part of my cognitive walkthrough testing. I found that if their goal was hard to pinpoint with regards to optimizing spending habits. If my goal was to have my app be a quick in and out functionality, then crafting it around Mint would not be beneficial because everything takes several steps to set up in Mint before you can have actual snapshots of your data.

Optimized Spending

After asking more of these structured questions in my cognitive walkthrough I decided on the screens you see below.


I created an accounts page with snapshots of first glance spending trends in each account. Upon clicking into an account you see a circular chart much like the one in Mint and just below you see the recent transactions going in and coming out of your account. If the user comes into the app wishing to see how they might optimize a certain category of  their spending they are prompted to click on that part of the circular chart and it will tell them whether their spending is excessive, fair, or optimal already. Then they click the button, “Optimize” and the app starts working. They are left with a screen that shows history of spending in a graph, detailing the highest spending period and lowest spending in the past six months. Then through algorithmic data the app would give a recommendation on how to reduce excessive spending based on this historical data.

Going Forward

In the end I created three flows related to fixing spending habits, each of whom I would like to go out and perform actual Usability Testing on because I feel the overall framework will stand up to criticism but I know that it may not flow as seamlessly as I would like. Going forward I will continue to create the rest of the screens and I will use this shift in scope as an opportunity to branch out into new ideas that I might use in this banking app to improve the experience for the user.