Mental Model Match

For our latest assignment in Designing Digital Interfaces, we were tasked with merging the traditional functionalities of a banking app to offer additional capacity for financial modeling. This meant that we had to take our existing banking app designs and integrate new functionalities in a way that felt seamless and intuitive for users… and then test to see how well we had done.

I tested my design with five users ranging in age from 26 to 36. I again used the “think aloud” style of testing in which I had users talk through their experience as they tried to accomplish a few outlined tasks (or “flows”) within our banking app designs. I tested users both on my computer and on cell phones and learned that I much preferred testing users via mobile phone because the experience was that much more true to form with an actual use case. 

users seek charted territory
When experiencing an app for the first time, users look to find new functionality in familiar places.

My test users were familiar with a variety of banking apps and a few also used financial modeling or budgeting apps like You Need a Budget. During testing, I learned that it’s helpful to chart more than just one path for a user to achieve the desired task. Users who were less experienced with budgeting apps tended to look for new functionality via “tried and true” mental pathways. 

My other significant takeaway from user testing was more generally about the value of testing your design with real humans that aren’t yourself. Your app may be your baby, but if it can’t match to your users’ expectations then it won’t grow into a successful business venture. Streamline your design to meld with user expectations such that the user can intuitively navigate through your app’s features and functionalities.

mental model match
Takeaway: Match the user’s mental model

The final step in our journey with Designing Digital Interfaces will be to revise our wireframes based on our experiences in this final round of user testing. I look forward to updating my wireframe designs and flows so that they are as intuitive and streamlined as possible!