Adding Innovation to the Craft
Introducing New Specs Late in the Game
For the quarter’s final iteration of my wireframes, I got to be a bit more creative with content. I focused on developing a budgeting toolkit to help users understand their current spending and shape their financial future.
The structured flows of the past weeks (deposit a check, transfer money between accounts, etc.) were straightforward in the sense that they require little idea innovation. So, with those flows, I focused both on how users access the tools and on details like selecting and placing buttons, establishing visual hierarchy, and navigating forms. Feeling I had a foundational grasp of these elements after the first four iterations, I approached this new set of capabilities with confidence. What I quickly learned is that I had an entirely new set of challenges to tackle:
New Toolkit Challenges
- Seamlessly introduce unanticipated elements into an existing information architecture
- Communicate complex calculations simply
- Make it fun, easy, and approachable so people will want to spend time in their banking application
- Make it fast and effective to get people in an out of the app. No matter how fun I may design it, people don’t really want to spend their free time in their bank application (thanks for the reality check, Jon).
Activities to Build Understanding
Given the level of thought that this project requires around information structure, I refined my concept map once more with my new elements reflected. Unfortunately, I completed this activity after creating most of my new features, and I ran into a content structure problem with my more robust Safe to Spend project.
I quickly learned that finance tools incorporate elements from all across the application. For example, my flex spending (Safe to Spend, below) category turned into a hodge-podge of credit card payment settings, savings contributions, and recurring payment editing. It essentially became an application within another application, which clashes with Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines and thoroughly confused my classmates during critique.
I largely missed how confusing this feature was ahead of class, because I performed usability testing with the feature in isolation. Without seeing the larger context that “Safe to Spend” worked into, the now glaringly obvious issues did not rise to the surface. Instead, I took away a few tactical pieces of feedback for the details.
This usability testing feedback informed the current version of Safe to Spend.
The additional features I developed include the Fortune machine, which projects your future based on your recurring payment solutions, anomalous transaction flagging, and an easy snapshot of one’s financial performance for the month. These next sections are more properly contained than the above “Safe to Spend,” although they have yet to be tested with users and refined.
Primary Takeaways and Next Steps
- Usability test full features and navigation structures, not particular flows
- Craft a successful information architecture before moving to creating screens
- Simplifying finances is challenging, and there is a lot of room for growth within this opportunity
While the quarter is coming to a close, I plan to continue building out these financial modeling tools where I feel inspired. I am looking forward to building in a credit score section, which will tie back to some of my original (recent US immigrant) inspiration for this project, and will be a great complement to the modeling tools developed for this course. Before I get ahead of myself, though, I need to give that information architecture map another pass and challenge the structure to which I’ve grown attached.
No matter what, there is always space for another iteration.