KeyUp is growing up!

Since we last week’s post, team KeyUp has been developing an MVP based on our learnings from last week, continuing to build relationships, and revising our story for the final AC4D presentations next week.

  • First, we have been working on creating a library of videos of people who are currently in our highlighted careers of tech, the skilled trades, and health care. We plan to have a series of short videos in which people talk about how they came to their jobs, how they find meaning, and what it is like. We have heard over and over again from our users and their trusted advisors how important stories are. They help them make decisions about the future.

To this end, we continued developing a relationship with Capital Idea, set up appointments with professionals around the city and got to learn from the Electrician’s Union about apprenticeships.   

A classroom future electricians are trained in
A classroom future electricians are trained in
  • Second, we began developing relationships with our mentors at Impact Hub. It was awesome to feel the support of our community, continue to learn from people in different fields, and build on our experience at AC4D. We walked away feeling more confident and proud. We also had a chance to practice pitching different business models for KeyUp to various experts. Needless to say, we know we need to work on this more and continue testing our assumptions. We also loved getting a chance to connect with our cohort — it definitely feels like we will be able to collaborate and find future partners here.
Adam talking to a mentor during speed dating
Adam talking to a mentor during speed dating
Mary Hannah speaking to another mentor during speed dating
Mary Hannah speaking to another mentor during speed dating
  • Third, we have been spending time answering the questions: what is the problem we are solving and how are we solving it? We keep returning to these questions over and over again. Are we solving the right problem? Sometimes it feels like we are constantly restarting and it most certainly causes an existential crises. Of course, each time we return to the basics, the friction produces good results and we are able to move forward again. We started by remapping KeyUp, which is getting increasingly complex. We also spent time sketching to make sense of our problem and ultimately, to communicate the problem to our cohort and during our presentation.

This week, we asked: how might we communicate our vision for KeyUp?

This week, we learned all stakeholders in the workforce ecosystem have different needs and therefore, we need different pitches depending on our audience. We are trying to figure out how to triangulate between the different stakeholders to serve the most urgent need. We also learned how KeyUp may fit into the current ecosystem.

Now, we’ve got to…

  • make a beautiful pitch deck
  • revise design artifacts like concept maps, wireframes and the customer journey
  • practice our presentation!

One way you can help right now is…

  • send us anyone you know who doesn’t have a 4-year degree and wants to figure out their next career step
  • connect us to people who are in middle skill careers


Laughing Our Way to a Better Community: The Potential of Comedy to Change the Culture of Civic Engagement in Austin

We launched Stand Up, Austin! with a live event, A Civic Comedy Show, on Wednesday, April 11. The event was a minimum viable product (MVP), meaning that it contained just enough features to satisfy paying customers and for us to obtain feedback for future iterations and development.

Key considerations to test included market interest, ability to make a civic event fun and enjoyable, the viability of a live comedy format, and the effect of adding civic-minded organizations to the event.


The MVP included the following features: live event held at an adult-entertainment venue with a bar, a stand-up comedy showcase format featuring five diverse comics and a civic engagement expert, and four civic-minded organizations offering various opportunities to get involved with the community. We designed thoughtful touch points and interactions to enhance the civic-nature of the event, such as Conversation Cards and Community Jenga.

The MVP was held at Spider House Ballroom, a well-known Austin institution for live events.
The MVP was held at Spider House Ballroom, a well-known Austin institution for live events.
Attendees registered to vote and learned about upcoming elections from League of Women Voters.
Attendees registered to vote and learned about upcoming elections from League of Women Voters.
Before and after the comedic showcase attendees had an opportunity to enjoy community (and a cocktail or beer).
Before and after the comedic showcase attendees had an opportunity to enjoy community (and a cocktail or beer).
The showcase featured five comics, including Ky Krebs. “If Austin is so bike friendly then why am I always mad when they're in front of me?”
The showcase featured five comics, including Ky Krebs. “If Austin is so bike friendly then why am I always mad when they’re in front of me?”
An unexpected addition to a comedic showcase included Jay Jennings, postdoctoral research fellow for the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life and the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas Austin. "It’s not great that Texas ranks 50th in talking about politics, but it is solvable.”
An unexpected addition to a comedic showcase included Jay Jennings, postdoctoral research fellow for the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life and the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas Austin. “It’s not great that Texas ranks 50th in talking about politics, but it is solvable.”
The laughs came easily and quickly for the audience.
The laughs came easily and quickly for the audience thanks to our gifted comic partners.
Vickie O'Dell with Open Austin talked with attendees about volunteer opportunities related to open data, open government, and civic apps in Austin.
Vickie O’Dell with Open Austin talked with attendees about volunteer opportunities related to open data, open government, and civic apps in Austin.
AC4D student Adam Chasen performed qualitative research throughout the shadowing a couple and then interviewing them about their experience.
AC4D student Adam Chasen performed qualitative research throughout the MVP shadowing a couple and then interviewing them about their experience.


MVP key learnings:

  • People will take decisive civic action when given the opportunity (for example, nine people registered to vote);
  • there is a market for local civic comedy (over 100 people bought tickets for $5-7 after 10-days of promotion which consisted primarily of social media and free event calendars);
  • a civic comedy show can be funny and informative (more than 90% of surveyed attendees rated the show as such);
  • and comics want to be part of a show that intersects with civic engagement (almost half of the comedic portion of the show was on topic with civic engagement even though we did not have creative control of the content).
Attendees had various civic opportunities presented by Pulse of Austin, League of Women Voters, Functional Democracy, and Open Austin. The MPV netted 45 individual tangible steps toward an improved civic life.
Attendees had various civic opportunities presented by Pulse of Austin, League of Women Voters, Functional Democracy, and Open Austin. The MPV netted 45 individual tangible steps toward an improved civic life.
The showcase is illustrated graphically as a sparkline. This helps to see the contrast in content by visualizing its contour. The line moves up and down between comedy and civic comedy. Engagement level was tracked by audience applause and laughter.

What’s Next

We are iterating our concept and preparing for AC4D’s Community Showcase and Party on Thursday, April 26. Please join us to learn more about Stand Up, Austin! 


The End of the Beginning

Several months ago, before our research began, Nicole and I had very little understand of what civic engagement in Austin even meant. We knew the system wasn’t perfect, what government system is? But we didn’t realize how excluded and marginalized so many people felt every single day.

Our capstone project, The Pulse of Austin, was born out many, many conversations and iterations on a simple premise: Government should be collaborative. 

Decisions and policies that govern a whole body of people, shouldn’t be made to benefit only those that speak the loudest and hold the most power.

Yet that’s often the way it works.

How can we expect the government to shape policy to meet the needs of its residents if it doesn’t hear from them? And how can we expect residents to chime in, if they never see the benefits of doing so?


We believe that cities can be shaped collaboratively. But it’s not easy. Collaboration requires both residents and stakeholders to come to the table and interact.

What we are pushing for is a cultural and behavioral shift. We must make working towards a shared vision of Austin a more common practice. And that means people must speak up regularly, and not just the same voices that have always existed in city hall. And we must make city council accustomed to hearing from its constituents. 

There is a very little intimacy between the city and it’s people. The disconnect is startling. Yet we are all affected by policy every single day.

There is clearly a space for The Pulse of Austin to live and bridge this divide.  I believe both the personalization and guidance the mobile app provides are significant differentiators that can push towards our vision of collaboration.

A system as large as civic engagement, was never going to be redesigned in the course of a school year. We have much more work to do.

Nicole and I are building partnerships with city stakeholders and learning from experts steeped in the field of civics, while keeping our feet on the side of the residents. It’s their voices we want to make clear, and this is the balancing game of a true human-centered designer.

Our time at AC4D is ending, but we aren’t done yet.

Our next move is to apply for a fellowship with Code for America with the hope to get funding so we can keep the lights on as we continue to build.

code for america

How We Arrived At Comedy As A Concept

Understanding Civic Engagement

It is our understanding that voting, volunteering and being a sustainable member within neighborhoods and communities are all ways that residents can give their voice back, find resources for aid, and lean on their community for help in trying times. By focusing on how residents currently participate civically, or if they even do so at all, we can begin to find what problems, if any, residents are experiencing in this area. To do so, my team and I collaborated with the City of Austin Innovation office with the goal of understanding how low income residents articulate their viewpoints towards government and uncover more inclusive ways to enable civic engagement and representation.

We conducted research by speaking with residents in their homes, and in places like libraries and community events that presented opportunities to participate civically. During these immersive activities we heard stories from people like Diego who said, “The government is a kings sport. You need to be wealthy to play.” and people like Ellen who had this to say about interacting with government officials, ”It’s irritating. [people parking on the street] That was one of my concerns I told the councilman but he was like oh yeah I’ll get to it but he never has.”


Our team found that residents were hesitant to articulate viewpoints to government, and more than that, they were fencing themselves off from participating civically all together. After speaking in-depth with participant we saw that most residents carried distrust towards, not only government, but other members of their community.

“This is the most convenient spot that the whites let the blacks hold for a while, until they wanted it back.”  -Hancock, long time resident living in East Austin.


Absorbing Behavioral Patterns  

We noticed patterns between the stories and observations gathered from our participants, and as we went into synthesis we began to see unfold how the seeds of distrust and barrier to participation were planted.

Diego, who said himself that resident’s needed to be wealthy to participated in government, didn’t actually believe that himself; as he was an activist and has lobbied for and against  issues he cared about with much success. We asked ourselves how was it that this man, a person of low income for many years, managed to break these barriers that we were seeing. When it seemed at first that a resident’s lower economic status had a direct effect on whether they were able to engage.

Our team surmised that, in fact, it wasn’t resident’s lower economic status that was causing them to see no results from participation but the very idea that they perceived that because they were poor they wouldn’t have a voice. When, in fact, in Austin this is largely untrue because large majority of government funding goes to funding programs specifically created to perform outreach towards the lower income communities. However, these programs are struggling to perform outreach because lower income individuals have put up barriers to participating due to their previously stated negative perceptions.

The problem is that lower income residents don’t feel that participating civically is worth their effort because Austin does not value lower income residents as much as they do the wealthy residents. These negative perceptions towards government and community are damaging to the current system because they actually create self perpetuated realities due to lack of representation within the city. Put simply, because residents feel they don’t get equal representation they don’t  participate; and because theydon’t participate they don’t get equal representation.

After understanding that we couldn’t shape the way residents think and behave right off we asked ourselves how might we change the ways in which members of the community participate so that negative feelings towards interacting within local civics shifts towards greater connection and sociability.

Artboard 11@3x

What are ways we can change the way people participate? How do we shift the negative feelings about civic engagement into become feelings of belonging and sociability?


Using Humor To Shift Perceptions

We asked ourselves are their organizations and designs already doing this? Are their things happening right now that we can replicate or gain insights from? Yes, and many use humor as a way to communicate political and communal messages in a positive manner.

A big thing we are seeing in the world is the emergence of political comedy. (The Daily Show; Last Week Tonight With John Oliver; The Colbert Report) Our culture is more open to the idea of mixing politics and comedy than ever before. The idea that we can shift how we view a certain topic by the form it’s communicate lead our team to ask: What participating civically and getting involved was fun? What if it was something people did because they enjoyed it and not because of necessity or moral obligation.

Comedy can have a powerful effect on how people absorb and evaluate contrary or new information, and nowadays is often used as a communication tool to inform and engage without adhering to the same negative perception of the current system of political and communal topics.

civic night@3x

We began testing a concept that involved a weekly event at neighborhood bars consisting of information and entertainment based on civic affairs and political topics. The idea was that by gathering people in casual bar setting for a night of local political trivia, topical comedy, and civically centered conversation people could engage civically while having fun with neighbors and other members of the community. Our assumption was that by offering an alternative to typical forms of getting involved residents would be far more willing for discussions with their community and local officials.


Testing Interest In The Concept   

It was our assumption that people would be interested in this concept as a possible solution, and would be willing to participate in pilot type event at some point. Our first experiment consisted of creating a website landing page with informative content about our concept and measuring how many email subscribers we could get within a seven day period. We surmised that in order for the experiment to be successful we needed to get greater than 25 email sign ups on our website landing page. Within twelve hours 25 people provided an email address and at the conclusion of the seven day period we had received over 77 subscriptions.

Webiste Civic Night

Testing Concept Format and Expectations

Before we went to prototyping the concept for a pilot test we still needed to understand what format people felt was best suited for this type of concept. A big thing that we found is people equated it towards daily show and last week tonight, both shows that mix humor and politics that don’t require much active participation from the users. So, our next step was to test to see if people would actually attend a live event. We looked for signals from user centered participatory activities that suggested our participants preferred the concept to come in the form of a live event.

In this experiment, we hoped to understand what people found attractive about Civic Night with the hopes of co-creating our pilot with them. We explored what they expect the night to feel like with regards to the place, the atmosphere, and the content. We wanted to know what residents hope to achieve by participating, what format they wanted it to be in, how much they wanted to participate, and what they hoped to gain through participating in this event.

We spoke with 27 people to test the format of the concept and their expectations based on four separate variations of the concept with scenario hero flows played out in each format. We focused the experiment on speaking to people who were middle or lower income.


We held an in-depth interview with one individual. She performed an act of placing thoughtful image stimuli into categories of topics to be covered, format, environment, style and personality, type of participation, sentiment, and what she hoped to achieve by participating. We then did ad hoc participatory interviews, wherein customers reviewed the formats (comedy show, salon,  trivia, radio show) and were asked to think out loud as they went through the scenario flows.

Josh, Maria, Scott Presentation_ Civic Night (3)

The experiment indicated that a majority prefered a live show over other formats, and having it be delivered in a comedy show format with an interactive component that sparks community engagement. The only measure that wasn’t conclusive was the type of venue for this event. We inferred through behavioral patterns that most didn’t want it to be in a bar, but many felt they would expect it in a community center, brewery, or typical comedy venue.


Designing The Minimal Viable Product

We felt that after this last round of experiments our team had enough positive feedback to start prototyping a minimal viable product for testing. To do that we first needed to see if we could actually mix comedy and local civics and still have them be funny and effective at informing. Several comedians in the Austin area agreed to take part in co-creation sessions with us to see what was possible in their eyes as far as crafting this material. Through these sessions we concluded that crafting these jokes would take a great amount of time and effort on their part which meant more compensation. This lead our team to compromise our creative control for the pilot testing which in turn made us rethink what our minimal viable product could be.

The fact that we couldn’t pay comedians to write original material, combining local civics and humor, was something we didn’t account for. In order for our concept to work it needed to address the question, “how might we change the ways we participate so that perceptions towards articulating viewpoints and interacting within community shifts towards greater connection and sociability.”

We needed to find new ways in which we could have our event mix comedy and local civics without relying solely on our comedians.

After weeks of synthesis activities and ideations we used service design tools to map out a service blueprint and customer journey map to understand how to design for each touchpoint within the night. We prototyped interactive concepts like conversation cards, community games, informative stickers and artifacts, and we brought on outside civic organizations like The League of Women Voters and Open austin to provide actionable engagement activities (registering people to vote, signing up people to volunteer) during the event. The comedians were still apart of our pilot, however, we understood that by not having creative control over what their jokes were the success of our pilot needed to be on how the event itself mixed humor and civics.


Testing With People

We devise ways to test our pilot and each touch point within the event through a contextual survey, tally sheets for each booth to measure conversion rates from approaching the booth to actively engaging, a sparkline sheet, and qualitative contextual research done during the event with two seperate participants.


At this point we have yet to completely process our data from the pilot, however from an initial debrief our team has surmised that from our tally sheets from each civic booth that we were able to create actionable civic engagement from our participants.

Pulse of Austin: 24 Interactions; 14 Beta User Sign Up; 58% conversion

League of Women Voters: 12 interactions; 9 registered to vote – 75% conversion

Open Austin: 20 interactions: 10 signed up to volunteers – 50% conversion

A Functional Democracy: 15 interactions; 10 signed up for book – 67% conversion

Our team continues to process feedback from our pilot and going forward we plan on following up with participants to perform qualitative research so we can better improve the service design and experience of the event. We cannot, at this time, say whether this pilot test was a success or not. However, it is the feeling of our team that this concept has weight and merit given that we were able to bring over 90 people into this unique experience. It was purposefully not an ideal state. We feel that going forward we cannot iterate on many of the concepts and begin finding new ways to minimize the risk of creating original content for the comedians.


Going Forward

In conclusion, our shortcomings came from not thinking forward on crafting these original jokes, however we found new ways to combine local civics and humor that proved effective on a smaller scale. Next step  are finding new ways to measure and test future events, designing better interactions for follow up testing, and ways to reduce time and effort of planning entire events.

A Mobile Bank App Adaptation

It’s been fun to pass from the designer hat to the product management hat for the past three quarters.

So far, I’ve learned how to break down, define and prioritize the necessary capabilities in a mobile application, I have drawn up scenarios inspired in real life situations and potential users in order to match them to these capabilities. I have also created low fidelity and high fidelity wireframes in Sketch, and have made them interactive for usability testing purposes which is also a method that I used in order to get feedback from real users.

Then, my product manager self went and talked to a developer in order to get an estimate of how long it would take to build the screens that were designed – which, by this time, were annotated to differentiate features from controls. This taught me what to expect from a conversation with a developer: the questions I should know to ask and the tools I should have whenever I engage in a conversation with them. After my conversation with the developer, I did a rough cut: this helped me prioritize which elements of the application I should prioritize to get built for a minimum viable product.

After defining our MVP, I created a roadmap – the visualization I will use to communicate to both the executive and development team about the latest progress.

Finally, I created a Strategy and Feature Brief (see full brief here), the purpose of this reading deck is to be shared throughout my hypothetical organization in order to share the vision of the product.

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Earning stakeholder buy-in on my product vision

Building onto the product vision with a feature brief

Jumping into the final product management assignment, I had already sized my application with a developer and created a product roadmap for the trimmed down version of my wireframes. Now, it was time to bring that roadmap into a compelling vision for the user and for the company.

With my product manager hat on, I revisited the guiding research for my banking application, refined behavioral insights, and outlined how these findings could serve as the foundation for the app’s prioritized features.

Crafting a narrative from a rocky foundation

The big snag here was…we didn’t exactly conduct ethnographic research for our banking app. I had, however, spent a couple hours on the phone with Amela, a woman who came to the US as a refugee from Bosnia when she was 14 years old. She also works at one of nine resettlement agencies in the US, so she provided wonderful color on the transition from both a personal and tactical side.

Inspired once again by the idea of addressing the US’ refugee population, I dove into my old research and extracted three key insights:


From these insights, I identified three design pillars to guide the creation of my app.

Screen Shot 2018-04-16 at 11.29.10 PM

Takeaway: Justifying the development process without user research feels unnatural. Ethnographic research adds so much more depth to the product decisions.

Takeaway: Grounding design pillars in research redirected my focuses for the roadmap activity.

My pillars were previously inclusivity, security, and simplicity. While the two sets share some commonalities, my roadmap no longer felt like it fit my objectives as well as it had before. Its overall priorities were in line, but the granular elements of each section are where I may want to rethink my feature ordering.

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Takeaway: Keep a consistent vision throughout the product creation process.

Working the refugee angle at this point felt too late – I couldn’t properly do it justice. In some respects, this brief would have been more successful had I stuck to the vision that drove last week’s artifact.

Nevertheless, the design pillars and high-level roadmap still work together nicely, mapping to each other throughout the build.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 12.27.31 AM

Showcasing Unique Value

The final section of the feature brief is reserved for showcasing the important elements that will set my bank apart. Particularly important for my design pillars are internationalization, profile alerts, sending money with Zelle, and the Fortune future payment analysis. In the feature brief,  these features all have their core components and value drivers listed next to them.

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These will be  effective for helping stakeholders  see my vision as something more concrete. It starts to ground the insights and diagrams into an imaginable reality.

The full PDF of the feature brief lives here, if you would like to read it from end-to-end.

What’s Next

Next, I would love to challenge and refine my research about refugees. I know there is SO much more for me to learn from them.

More research could potentially push a meaningful shift in my product roadmap, which would feel intimidating, but may ultimately yield a new, much more effective approach for my vision.


Wells Fargo Redesign – Product Strategy & Feature Brief

How do you sell features? You don’t. You sell vision and value.

I started the development of my Wells Fargo redesign six months ago. During that time, I created many screens and flows that correlate to tasks. At this point however, it’s time to communicate this work to the c-suite at the company where I developed this redesign. These past two weeks, we created a product strategy and feature brief about our mobile banking app’s development to do just that. Though it’s called a feature brief, I needed to use this document to communicate the vision and value these features will bring, not only to the company, but to the user.

Strategy brief Cover

In this assignment, I created a deck that could be used to brief executives or investors about the rationale and strategy regarding my app’s development. You can view the full PDF deck here. It was a great lesson in how to communicate and sell our work to people who aren’t our fellow designers or developers. In the next phase of our education, out in the “real world”, selling our work will be a critical skill to learn.


Research, Insights, & Value Proposition

The driving force behind communicating the rationale for the work is in the research. For this project, we made up our research because it was outside of the scope of our skill development. We’ve learned to do research for many other projects, including both primary, contextual inquiry and secondary research including market and trends analysis. What research did I come up with?

Currently, “millennials are moving away from home at an astounding rate”! This was the crux of my story. I reasoned that because millennials are moving away, they now need to pay bills, and the financial management apps they currently use, like Venmo, are inadequate to manage the recurring payments and other financial needs they’re encountering.

Enter Wells Fargo. The introduction of so many millennials into the banking market is Wells Fargo’s opportunity, I claimed, to develop features that would welcome this new group of users and convince them to use Wells Fargo’s services.

Overview of strategy brief
The overview provides the framing for the background and purpose of the development effort.

A key part of design research is not only this high level secondary research but also primary research through interviews with individuals. Design research often culminates with developing behavioral insights about users to drive the design of their products. In this case, Wells Fargo’s design research is evidenced in four key insights. Each of my Insight pages explains how research informed the insight, a sample quotation and image of a user, and how this insight will inform product development.

strategy brief-03 Insight Insight Insight

As a result of the insights, we can now define how our product will be valuable for users. This definition of value is clarified through a value proposition, which really is just business jargon for a statement about how a product is valuable for users. My value proposition for Wells Fargo’s redesign is as follows:

Value propositionStrategic Roadmap

Now that we have a sense for our direction, we need to define how we’ll get there. Leading up to this point, I created features that allow users to complete tasks that are necessary and valuable to them in the context of banking via a mobile app. I have everything from viewing an account balance and depositing a check to managing alerts covered in my app’s design. These all are valuable for the app, but how will they be completed?

Two weeks ago, I completed what’s called a product roadmap. This document is the outline we need to demonstrate how to prioritize and sequence all these features’ development. You can read more about the roadmap in this post. In this strategy brief, I need to zoom out, however, and describe more of the rationale of the development from the perspective of adding value for users. It’s not as valuable for an organization to sequence their app’s development for purely technical reasons. How will the product gain traction in the marketplace? If we can create a useful, valuable product and then continue to create releases that build on that value subsequently, we can capture more value sooner.

Strategic Roadmap
The overall roadmap shows both the categories of development and where they lie in the year and across the release points.



Strategic Roadmap
Additional pages in the deck describe the production streams’ goals and development content.


With an eye to providing value to users as soon as possible in the course of the product’s development, I developed a roadmap strategy that sequences feature development based on the insights and value promise I initially created. By releasing “Quick Access” features, for example, we can help millennials develop affinity for the app early, since we know that these users want instant gratification and instant access to information. Once they have begun using the app more, we will develop the “Create Savings” features so they can begin to address their emerging need for frugality. Later, these users will be using the app and will have savings goals and budgets, and we will release the “Alerts” features in time to help them keep on top of their goals and new financial commitments.

Capability Overviews

Now that the executive or investor reading this deck has an understanding for the high level rationale for the product’s development, it’s time to provide a glimpse of the features that will help us create value for users. Features, which I am calling capabilities in this deck, are really just tactics. They are not valuable in their own right. This is why we should not attempt to sell features. What is valuable for users is not whether they can look at a screen with good looking graphs but rather that they can quickly develop an understanding of their financial standing. The graphs help support that goal.


Sample Feature overview page
Sample Feature overview page

For each feature, I provide just a snapshot of the screen. Again, executives do not need to know how users will step through completing a task – they need to understand how it provides value to users. (Unless of course an executive prefers that level of detail, which is another story.) A picture of the feature here provides a visualization to ground understanding of the task itself. The description that accompanies it provides additional narrative of how the feature value.

In Closing

As designers, we need to both gain a sense for users’ needs and wants and design products that help to fulfill them. Someone needs to know how to communicate the vision for the product in order to fund it. That someone could be the CEO, a product manager, or any number of people. I want to be able to be that person as needed. This project was instrumental in wrapping up the banking app redesign as it cast everything in perspective. The product needs to add value for a user, which should be evidenced by research. The devil is in the details of course, and key features will be necessary to create that value. This product strategy overview and feature brief distills those required elements for a successful product into one document, and it’s a good template to have as we go into the world and create truly great, valuable products for people.

Chase Bank App Nigeria: Product Strategy & Feature Brief

For the last assignment Product Management class we practiced creating Product Strategy & Feature Brief for banking app we were working on in Q2 – a deliverable that explains a product’s roadmap and the reasoning behind its creation and priorities made.

A competition on American market of mobile banks is incredibly high. Almost every bank has an app, and most of them are able to implement all the features customers wish the mobile bank would be able to do – from checking account balance to depositing a check. So, MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for banking app in the United States should be very functional and powerful to survive.

But not every country has this high competition. I decided to imagine that my product will be launching on another market, not so spoiled as American, that will let me truly go through the process from MVP to fully functional process.

So, meet Chase Bank Nigeria! One of the pioneers of mobile banking in the country.


The country of Nigeria has been going through rapid economic and technological growth in the past several years and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. With internet access and smartphones becoming more and more affordable, their penetration rate has skyrocketed. Nearly every person between ages 18 and 35 who live in metropolitan areas of Nigeria owns a smartphone with an internet connection, and a lot of them don’t own a computer.

A mobile application and messaging applications, in particular, are on the rise as well. Combination of added convenience and very moderate data consumption make mobile application a center of not just communication amongst the users, but also the key element of online retail, e-commerce, and overall financial activities.

As it relates to the financial sector, most people in Nigeria find it extremely inconvenient to have to visit a physical branch of a bank in order to perform basic financial transactions. Most young people would prefer to use a mobile application for banking if it saves them time and if it consumes less cellular data than a website. Customers also demand mobile application that is modern and match usability standard of the western world. Their needs are not satisfied with what’s currently on the market. At the same time, customers generally aren’t wealthy and are used to micromanage their very limited amounts of funds.

JPMorgan Chase is planning a full roll-out of its banking services onto the Nigerian market and establishes the brand as modern and forward-thinking. In alignment with that, this document outlines the vision for the initiative of creating a modern mobile banking application that serves growing needs of prospective Chase Bank customers in Nigeria.



Chase Bank mobile application is a core component of the roll-out of Chase product and service offerings on Nigerian market. It allows users to keep their finances under control in an easy and unobstructed way.

Chase Bank mobile application design is based on these four behavioral insights:

  1. The majority of customers in Nigeria own very limited amount of funds and have to micromanage their finances.
  2. Not having clear visibility to each and every transaction associated with a debit or credit card that the customer owns steers them towards avoiding using any bank cards at all.
  3. Many banking customers in Nigeria still have to visit a branch in order to perform a money transaction, but only because their banks don’t provide a more convenient way to do that.
  4. Most customers in Nigeria would prefer to email or message their bank, instead of having a phone call.


  1. The majority of customers in Nigeria own very limited amount of funds and have to micromanage their finances.

While Nigeria is going through the rapid growth phase, 60.9% families in the country are still below the poverty line, another 20% are very close to it. For many, that means that they need to keep a very close eye on their account balance (whether it’s a real bank account, or just saved up cash) and plan their lives and activities around it.

Chase Bank mobile application should allow customers to have a clear and easy view of their finances, ideally showing trends and projections.

“I barely can make it to my next paycheck… Every month I’m trying to make it through, I don’t have any certainty if I actually will. It is stressful, but it’s my reality. I really need to know where every my naira goes… Otherwise I quickly will go in dept.” – Abebi

  1. Not having clear visibility to each and every transaction associated with the debit or credit card that the customer owns steers them towards avoiding using any bank cards at all, due to fraud concerns.

81% of adults in Nigeria prefer cash because they feel like they have a lot more control and visibility over how much they have and where it goes. They physically have to hand out the money in order for their “total balance” to decrease, which also gives customers a perception of full control of their finances. Customers believe that credit and debit cards are prone to financial fraud.

Chase Bank mobile application should be making customers comfortable through displaying all transaction and detailed information about each of them. Ideally, clearly displayed fraud protection features should be a part of the user experience, in order to assure the customers of high security and safety of Chase Bank products and services.

“I don’t trust all these banks. They can still my money and I’ll not even notice! And even if I do it’s probably going to be too late to do something”. – Rayowa

  1. Many banking customers in Nigeria still have to visit a branch in order to perform a money transaction, but only because their banks don’t provide a more convenient way to do that.

Most banks in Nigeria currently require their customers to visit the branch in order to deposit a check, transfer money to a family member or a friend, make a wire transfer, or perform any other monetary transaction. 84% of interviewed customers noted that they don’t enjoy the experience of performing those operations in person at a bank branch – mainly because it’s hard to find enough time during a workday to do that.

Chase Bank mobile application should introduce the suite of “Move Money” features that are possible to perform using the smartphone, without the necessity of visiting a Chase branch.

“I don’t use any banks and don’t have any banking accounts. What for? I don’t want to spend a whole day trying to get my money from them, I just can not afford it. I have to work”. – Jayamma 

  1. Calling their bank is a serious challenge for most people in Nigeria and leads to frustration and anxiety due to per-minute billing and a vast difference in language dialects between country’s regions.

Most cell service companies in Nigeria charge for phone calls per minute, while free Wi-Fi connection can be found in most homes, schools, and workplaces. Even via a 3G connection, a lengthy conversation with a bank representative over an internet chat is a lot cheaper than it would be on the phone.

Additionally, many customers in certain regions of the country experience issues when calling any company headquartered in the country’s capital, Abuja, due to a difference in dialects and accents. A simple conversation becomes a frustrating and costly experience.

Chase Bank mobile application should allow for an easy way to communicate with a Chase representative via a live chat, making every customer comfortable and confident that their problem will be resolved.

“I only call my daughter because I want to hear her voice. I tried to avoid calling anybody else. It’s too expensive!”- Machie 



We promise to support Chase Bank Nigeria users in pursuing their goals in a safe and trustworthy way through providing an easy and efficient control over their financial lives.


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You can see detailed roadmap here.


Account Overview
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Fraud Alerts

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Move Money

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Live Chat


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Smart Money

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I do enjoy thinking about product strategy and features. What, when and why we should build? How exciting these questions!

However, I found out that I always have a feeling that “we don’t have enough data to answer those questions”. During this exercise, we were supposed to make up a whole story behind our design decisions and it was hard for me. I wish I really know what people in Nigeria do, how they live and how they use their mobile banking apps. In real life, I need to learn how to find that spot where I know enough to make a decision to move forward with one idea.

Presenting this report I realized how important it is to know your audience: who they are and what they already know. Do they care about quotes from real people? Did they already see your product? What are their titles? And many other questions. It was hard to emulate real-life experience without knowing all of it. I’m really looking forward to the real life to teach me this and many more other lessons.

UX Design Professional World, here we come!

Mobile App Strategic Feature Brief

This quarter I’ve taken on the role of a product manager for a mobile banking app. First, I met with a developer to size and scope the app, then I sliced the original product into an MVP version by removing the non-essential features. This was done so that we could build the product as quickly as possible (and still provide value!). Next, I rearranged the most important features into a product road map. The roadmap is a sharable document for both the design team and the engineer team. I also created a version of the roadmap that is mostly just for me, so that I can track the different components and features and prioritize which to build.

Now I am presenting a feature brief to the board. The brief will live as a document that our entire team can refer back to as we move forward. It helps our team to stay grounded in why we are building certain features, and how we are prioritizing them.

For example, when the bank first decided to create a mobile banking app, it was to serve specific user needs. Many of our customers are college students and young working professionals with little time on their hands. Here are some of the things we heard from our customers:

Banking Strategic Features User Quotes.001

Customers are negatively impacted when they can’t make it to the bank.


Banking Strategic Features User Quotes.003Customers make personal tradeoffs to fit banking into their busy schedules.


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Customers only go to the bank when they absolutely have to.

This led our research team to the insight that taking time out of one’s day to go to the bank feels like a hassle and causes our customers to resent banking.

Since we are in the banking business it’s in our best interest to make banking enjoyable. Even more so, our bank would have a competitive advantage by accommodating the needs of our users busy schedules.

Given this, we are guided by a very simple value promise.

Banking Strategic Features value promise.001

The following are 9 core features that will be built into the app.

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Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.28.26 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.28.52 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.28.37 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.29.29 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.29.41 PM Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.29.03 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.29.19 PMScreen Shot 2018-04-15 at 7.29.55 PMIt may seem strange that we included making an appointment to go to our bank a core feature, but what we realized it that sometimes user do want to talk to a banker face to face. Money often makes people feel insecure and there is comfort in the physical interaction. Being able to make an appointment easily and in advance helps a user avoid extra wait time that they might find when just dropping in.

The product roadmap was update slightly from the last version in order to highlight our core features and bring the chat functionality into the third release, whereas it was in the last two releases in the original map.

Product Roadmap Simplified SMALL-01


Here is a closer view of the strategic releases:

Product Roadmap Simplified-03

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To see the full strategic feature brief document, you can go here.

Design Strategy Feature Brief: We’ve Only Just Begun

After creating scenarios, iterating wireframes, completing usability testing, evaluating feasibility, creating a product roadmap, and sizing with a developer, it is time to create a design strategy feature brief. The brief presents a comprehensive and straightforward vision of what the redesigned mobile application will provide and why it’s valuable.

In the real world, the brief will be shared with multiple departments from operations to sales to customer service and beyond to make sure that everyone is on the same page with the direction and capabilities of the product.

The new artifact is actually a compilation and curation of artifacts previously created. Core components of a compelling design strategy feature brief include value proposition, research insights, wireframes, features, and product roadmap. 

A simple promise articulating the future outlook.
A value proposition is a simple promise articulating the future outlook.


Insights are grounded in human behavior.
Insights are grounded in human behavior.


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Insight: customers don’t want more financial services, they want financial health and security.


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High-level product roadmap shows features that will come online and paints a picture for a longer term view.


Key capabilities and summarized to quickly communicate the customer value.
Key capabilities and wireframes are summarized to quickly communicate the customer value.


You can view the design strategy feature brief here.


Throughout my marketing and communications career, I’ve reviewed similar documents. I liked building the brief because it is an opportunity to revisit design artifacts and use them to communicate a product vision in a clear, concise, and compelling way. The challenge with documents such as this is ultimately implementing the strategy and not allowing it to merely live on in an executive’s memory or bookcase.

There’s much work ahead of us to achieve and to realize the product strategy and vision. Despite the numerous steps to get to this point, we’ve only just begun. Indeed.