erica smith
WorksAbout

Aloe Money

Internship Length: April 2020 - ongoing    Role: UX Design Lead
Tools: Figma, AdobeXD, LucidChart
Aloe Money is a fin-tech startup in Seattle, WA developing a mobile application that empowers young adults to engage with their financial health. By enabling users to manage budgets, access personalized financial literacy courses, and explore the community, our small team designs to accommodate the lifestyles of Gen Z and help make financial decisions more sensible.
As a UX Design Lead at Aloe, I planned, iterated, and designed interactive prototypes of the application to be in sync with user needs and business goals. After conducting user research and competitive analysis, I developed style, navigation, and structure and performed usability assessments while taking into consideration input from stakeholders. I was the main UX/UI designer for all features of the application.

*due to NDA, the "finalized screens" at the bottom of this page are merely rough iterations of our first shipment and serve as a visualization to represent my thinking process.

The Challenge

Generation Z is entering the financial marketplace as the first generation to grow up adapting to massive technological expansion. This generation has heard about and learned from the housing bubble burst, millennial debt, and the recession. Albeit these advantages, the financial services industry has changed drastically and the information that Gen Z individuals get from their parents about money management may not pertain to the current environment of self-service, digital banking, and automation. With the lack of financial literacy, Gen Z struggles in having to make independent financial decisions.

How might we empower young adults aged 18-24 to engage in prudent money management behaviors?

Problem Space

Although I had some ideas as to how I (being a fellow Gen Z-er) spent my money and how my peers handled and made financial decisions, I decided to better my understanding of our target audience by researching data on how Generation Z (as a whole) interacted with finances.

By analyzing the current financial habits of Gen-Z and researching statistical data, interviews, and reports, I was able to broaden my perspective on how my generation viewed and managed money.

User Research

Not only did contextual research indicate the lack of official financial education Generation Z receives, but it also hinted at the negative connotation and stigma around money that young adults currently carry.

Keeping this in mind, I crafted various user personas and user journey maps to identify the key moments when a user might feel less prepared to deal with their finances.

Competitive Analysis

To understand current user interactions with budgeting applications, I analyzed finance management platforms such as PocketGuard, Mint, and Robinhood. Additionally, I studied interactive learning environments like Mimo and Quantic to streamline the design for the education feature.

If we were to put everyone on a scale of 1-5 based on how financially literate they were (5 being a financial expert), everyone naturally starts off at a 1.

There are tons of finance apps out there, but the biggest problem is that most of these products are for people who are at a 2 or above. So for the margin of people just starting out in the financial world, they are left in the dust understanding how these applications work, and have an even harder time acclimating to financial responsibilities.

Info. Architecture

Keeping in mind the research that I conducted, I conceived the structure of our application. By creating an information architecture map, we could see the flow of user interactions and were able to determine whether it was a clear way for users to access all features.

In generating this chart, we went through multiple iterations of navigational hierarchy and placement. This was exceptionally beneficial to the application, because not only did we want to focus on functionality, but user experience as a whole.

In my earlier architecture map, we had envisioned the top profile button that we would place in the top right corner to open a menu to the user profile, bank settings, notifications, and a couple of other things. However, we realized that this would pose some difficulties for the user in viewing notifications since it was so nested.

Initial Information Architecture

Revised Information Architecture

In the latest architecture flow, we moved the notifications to take place on the homepage, and for the user to access their profile right away after clicking on their profile button. The settings are the last on the home page, which follow the style of other banking apps such as BECU.

Design Priorities


💸

A budget that is realistic.

Achieve a “look forward” connotation to overspending. Budgeting that adjusts to user expenses.

📝

Make financial decisions sensible.

Build interactive courses that are comprehensible and engaging for users.

👥

Connect and share
with others!

Creating a network of users that help eachother out with financial information and tips.

Design Iteration #1


Lucid but articulate budgeting

Digestible scrolling view of daily, weekly, and monthly budgets. Press to view breakdown of budgeting and how fluid budgeting adjusts to a user's spending.

Incorporates sliding view of upcoming expenses and incomes so that users can gain a holistic understanding of their financial health.

Easy-to-Use Widgets

Transparent breakdowns for spending categories. Expands to show all categories and adjusts to specified timelines.

An impulse calculator that understands spontaneous purchases and previews the change to your budget.

Goals and challenges for spending that can be tackled with friends.

Friends and Groups

Whether you’re looking for better opportunities for yourself or need some extra perspective while learning, we give users the option to connect over our social platform.

This space allows for a continuing discussion and keeps you in the loop with people growing on similar journeys.

Personalized Learning

Interactive courses that are designed to keep the user engaged. Each course is split into concepts with frequent knowledge checks so that users can learn at their own pace.

Course content is built so that each lesson isn't text-heavy and gives each user access to their own dictionary of key terms.

A dashboard keeps track of your progress and gives you insights on where you can start next.

Impact

Thanks to our amazing business team, our partnership with a wealth advisory firm has led to an official class on financial literacy that will be offered to all student athletes at the UW. And they'll be using a version of Aloe Money as a supplement to their class.

Reflection

Knowing that the UW football team is home to more than 700 students, and knowing that they were our first catering milestone, the pressure to design in the final weeks before V1 shipment was overwhelming- especially as part of a remote internship! Nevertheless, I learned to communicate with devs and my advisor efficiently and frequently.

My involvement in this start-up and the design of this application is an ongoing process- meaning that the designs will keep changing as I iterate, iterate, and iterate again. For future iterations, I plan on revisiting the budgeting feature and cleaning up some of the interactions in the social feature so that we're sure to change the conversation and stigma around finance.