Let the People Have Numbers!

the ask

Our assignment over the past couple of weeks was to add financial modeling to our banking apps. I literally use You Need a Budget every day and still thought, “What’s financial modeling?” (It’s an abstract representation of a real world financial situation.)

my approach

I added a few functionalities to my Capital One app, loosely based on both YNAB and Mint. What I felt was most important was to see an overview of the total budget breakdown, a visual of spending so far for the month, the ability to categorize a transaction and an alert for out-of-the-norm transactions. (We’ll get deeper into these shortly.)

From there I conducted 5 user interviews and asked them to walk through the flows and talk me through their impressions. Of the 5, 3 use 1 banking app and mostly for checking their balances and not much else. One uses it frequently, not just for checking and savings but also investing. And one used 2 banking apps and a budgeting app (You Need a Budget).


Below are the screens I presented as well as what I learned about them from doing my user testing.


This is the home screen for the checking account.


My intention on this screen was for users to see a top-level view of their budget for the month and an alert for out of the norm spending. Once they clicked on the budget donut, they’d be brought to another screen, which had a breakdown of all their categories.

User Feedback: None of my users knew what to do with the donut image. They understood that it was a budget overview but they wanted more information about it instantly. I’d basically designed a glorified button.




Once they did click on it, they got to this screen. (“Oh! Here’s that information!”)

User Feedback: My biggest discovery by far in doing these interviews was the fact that, while I’d laid it out in a clear way, there were no numbers. There were no numbers in super key areas, especially considering that this was a banking app. This was less of an executive decision on my part and more of me learning how detailed a wireframe should be.

Other useful feedback for this screen was that a line showing where we are in the month would help them get a better sense of where they were at in their spending.


From here, users could click a category to see monthly spending trends compared to their budget as well as the transactions that are filed to that category.

Spending Trend

User feedback: Yes, numbers on the graphs, numbers on the budget. Other questions included, “Am I budgeting the same amount every month?” “What happens if I change my budget, where does that line go?”


Another function I had added was a feature where the app lets you know if your spending is out of the norm. Clicking on a transaction with an alert icon would take you to a screen with more information.


User feedback: “Obviously my average spending isn’t including February but I’d like to know that for sure.” “Since this graph is evenly spaced, it wasn’t obvious to me that these are specific transactions, I thought it was a monthly average.” “I don’t care if I spent more than normal, I want to know if I budgeted for it.” One user wanted a place to make a note for her own records. Another user was worried it could be fraudulent and wanted a quick link to deactivate her card and alert the bank of fraud.


Another function I added in (based on my YNAB usage) is the ability to categorize a transaction. In my testing, I explained that this was a new-to-you Shell and in the past you’ve categorized Shell purchases as either travel or transportation, depending on the circumstance. We’re going to categorize this one as Transportation.

Category1 Category2 Category3

When I was trying to figure out how to design this, I read an article on why drop down menus on mobile devices were terrible and read their listed solutions and I opted for a Start Typing option.

User Feedback: First, my categories were too small. One user didn’t even notice the little alert icon. Another user said he really would have preferred a drop down menu because what if he didn’t remember his categories? Nearly everyone got stuck on the last screen because I forgot to add some sort of “Done” button.



My takeaways from these user interviews, besides adding numbers to the screens, were that I get more useful info from people who regularly use their banking and budgeting apps, some of my type was too small and other functions were oversimplified. In general, people are very interested in seeing their spending trends for the month so that’s a place I can dig deeper.

Next steps: make all these edits and present them next week in class.