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Money Kit

An educational platform that helps millennials achieve financial wellness.

Project Summary

Project Type

UX, UI

My Role

Sole designer—from research and testing to UI design and prototyping.

Recognition

2022, One Club Student Awards, Shortlist

2021, AIGA Student Awards, Winner

Duration

7 weeks in 2021

Organization

Quinnipiac University
M.S. Interactive Media & Communication

Team Members

Professor Phill Simon

Project Details

You might assume that the most educated generation would also be the most financially successful. But unfortunately, that has not been the case for Millennials. Instead, Millennials are racing to catch up, build their wealth, and plan for retirement. And, they show low levels of financial literacy, are stressed about money, and feel pessimistic about their financial futures.

Learning about this inspired me to create a platform for Millennials and future generations that provides the financial resources and education they need using the learning methods they prefer. Moving through various phases of the UX design process, I researched, synthesized, ideated, prototyped, and designed a financial educational platform. As a Millennial, this product is something I believe a younger version of me and many others today could benefit greatly from.

Posing a Research Question
What circumstances have led to the wealth crisis for the Millennial generation and what opportunities exist that can help them recover?

Desktop Research

I began by conducting desktop research to understand the Millennial financial crisis and why it exists. I learned about Millennials' financial circumstances, their attitudes towards money, and their financial circumstances.

Image of statistics from a bloomberg article.

The image and stats above are from a Bloomberg article I found during my research. To read the original article, please click here.

A Glimpse into the
Millennial Financial Picture

  • Many graduated college during the Great Recession—meaning they either couldn't find work or started their careers with lower wages and fewer benefits. Although employment has rebounded since then, their earnings have not.
  • They have accumulated large amounts of debt, mostly student loans. 40% of Millennial employees carry student loan debt, and 83% say their student loans impact their ability to reach other financial goals.
  • The cost of living is rising at faster rates than salaries. Millennials pay 50% more on homes than Boomers, while their wages have only increased by 20%.
  • Unlike their predecessors, Millennials recognize they don't have pensions and social security to rely on. They are running out of time to save for retirement and feel pessimistic about their future.
  • Millennials show lower levels of financial literacy compared to older generations. When tested on financial concepts, only 24% demonstrated basic financial knowledge.

Landscape Analysis

Millennials tend to distrust banks, partially due to their experiences of the Great Recession. But their faith in tech has sprouted a new fintech sector. I conducted a competitive analysis to explore the resources currently available for Millennials, taking note of the content and features they provide.

Image of a landscape matrix.

As I was gathering information, I created a matrix to review and compare data across products.

Surveys

Although I now knew more about Millennials' financial situation and the product landscape, I still needed to understand how they felt about their financial circumstance and what topics they wanted more guidance on. I didn't have enough time to conduct interviews, so I ran a survey using google forms instead. After promoting it through my class and on social media, I received over 20 responses in a day.

The survey gathered responses from Americans 24-40 years old. It included both required and optional questions in open-ended and close-ended formats. All open-ended questions were optional, but still returned a high number of responses. It seemed like money was something Millennials are thinking about, and ready to share their thoughts on.

Do you feel you know how to best manage your money?

yes

Image of a statistic. A picture of quotation marks.

I would say most of knowledge comes from a personal finance class that I took in college, which really put me on track for having the tools and knowledge I need as an adult.

no

Image of a statistic. A picture of quotation marks.

I feel like I’m trying to make my business float while paying down my student loan debt while still trying to enjoy life. I feel like my personal debt is just increasing.

Topics Millennials are Most Interested in Learning About

83%

Planning for retirement

60%

Investing in the stock market

60%

Achieving financial wellness

55%

Understanding net worth

Affinity Mapping

I had gathered over 120 data points through the previous research and wanted to see what patterns and relationships existed between the different data, so I ran an affinity mapping session.

Time-lapse video of me conducting an affinity mapping exercise for a course project. I used over 100 data points that I had collected from secondary research and primary research in the form of user surveys.

3 Key Insights

01

Financial literacy is directly related to financial wellness.

It is also the one thing that Millennials can begin to control. Millennials can’t control external factors like the economic market, but they can improve their financial literacy.

02

Millennials want to feel like they are on the right track.

Millennials recognize their financial shortcomings but are desperately trying to obtain financial wellness. They don't feel financially confident, and they need help prioritizing their financial responsibilities.

03

Millennials need technology that works for their needs and lifestyle.

Millennials are on the go and squeeze things into small chunks of time—think train rides, lunch breaks, before bed, etc. They need resources that they can digest in smaller bites. Interactive, multimedia content keeps them engaged.

Point of View Statement
Millennials need help learning and applying financial principles to their life because they show low levels of financial literacy, are stressed about money and feel pessimistic about their financial futures.
Reframing the problem
How might we teach Millennials financial literacy so they can achieve financial wellness?

Personas

By this point, I had plenty of data and insights. I now needed to humanize the information, so it was easier to empathize with my users as I began ideating and creating a product for them. I made three personas that incorporate data and quotes from the research. Each persona represented a Millennial at a different stage of their financial journey—from learning about credit cards and debt, to buying a house and saving for retirement.

Image of three personas

Three personas were created to represent Millennials at different stages of their life, and the financial responsibilities they need to tackle. The persona above is for Stephanie—a young professional who is just beginning her financial and professional journey, and trying to juggle multiple responsibilities.

Site Mapping

During the affinity mapping session, I discovered ideas for content and features that my product should include. Using those insights, I conducted a quick card sorting exercise with small post-its on my desk, then drafted my first site map. This was where my idea began to take shape, and I could see how the different components of the platform could coexist.

Image of post-its on a desk.

Since I didn't have time to conduct a proper card sorting exercise, I ran a quick exercise on my desk before building a sitemap.

Image of a site map diagram.

The site map above is the latest of many renditions that I created through the course of the project. It was created in Mural.

Wireframe Sketches & Mid-fidelity Prototype

I started with some rough sketches to explore the content layout and hierarchy, then moved to the computer to design a mid-fidelity prototype.

Image of sketches.

The sketches were created on the iPad, and represent some initial ideas for how the product could take physical shape. I try to explore a few variations for each page before diving into a computer program.

Image of medium-fidelity wireframe pages.

Using Adobe XD, I created a mid-fidelity prototype of the educational and financial dashboards, as well as general content pages.

Usability Testing

Up to this point, I hadn't received any input on the product. Since the mid-fidelity prototype was in good shape, I wanted to test it and determine whether my design decisions were as intuitive as expected.

After building a plan and task list, I invited a Millennial friend over to my house to conduct the session. Although it was only one test, it proved worth the effort. Paraphrasing Steve Krug, one test is better than no test. I gained great insights that drastically improved the site's labeling, navigation, and structure.

Image of a user testing the prototype on a computer.

I screen and video recorded the usability session to watch later, so that my focus during the session was on facilitation.

3 Key Insights

01

The biggest issues derived from the site structure and navigation.

The user became confused when he logged into the platform, and the original navigation menu changed.

Next Steps:
Revise the main navigation so that it doesn’t change based on whether someone is logged in or not.

02

There was confusion over labeling.

What’s the difference between “Resources” and “Tools,”and how are “Dashboard” and “My Money” different?

Next Steps:
Revise the name of sections so they are more clear.Consider names like “Interactive Tools” and “Articles”,“Financial Hub”, “Education Hub” to clarify sections.

03

Having the entire "watch time" for each section is overwhelming.

But breaking down the time for each module is helpfuland makes working through the content feel attainable.

Next Steps:
Show time by individual module, versus entire section.

Visual Elements

I created a style guide to build a consistent visual design system that felt appropriate for the audience. The graphic design aims to be non-institutional, approachable, and friendly to help users feel comfortable exploring an intimidating topic, while also evoking a sense of credibility and trustworthiness as a reliable educational and financial tool should be.

The illustrations are sourced from unDraw, and worked perfectly for this product.

The Final Product

Money Kit is an educational and financial management platform that teaches Millennials financial literacy, so they reach financial wellness. The platform is broken up into two main sections: the Financial Hub and the Learning Hub.

Money Kit is precisely that—a kit full of educational tools, articles, and a financial resources that make money easier to understand and manage.

Money kit design mockups.

The Learning Hub is your guided path to financial wellness.

  • The Learning Hub is the user's path—with sequential lessons and actions—that they can take to build financial wellness.
  • Users can test their financial literacy and jump into an expert-based learning path where they belong. They can also retest their financial literacy over time to see how their knowledge has improved.
  • Multimedia content in small chunks makes it easy to learn on-the-go, while taking notes and checking out additional tools and resources related to the content.

The Financial Hub tracks all of your money, bills and financial goals in one place.

  • The financial hub, which is where people can manage their money and track their progress over time. This helps users see their entire financial picture and understand how all of the individual factors are interconnected.
  • Users can also connect all of their accounts, create short and long term goals, set budgets and pay bills.

Plus resources and tools for everyone.

  • For users who don’t want to join the platform or follow the educational path to financial wellness, articles and interactive tools are still available without logging in.
Image of the desktop screen designs of the app.

Watch the video above to see a demonstration of the interactive prototype.

Lessons Learned

01

Asking questions and building empathy leads to unique solutions.

Without curiosity about the Millennial financial situation and empathy for their circumstances, the solution never could have been derived.

02

Some testing is better than no testing.

With limited time, I used the resources immediately available to me in order to gain insights and improve the solution.

03

When time is limited, use the information you have to make sound decisions.

Without time to do a full design exploration, I used my understanding of the users, the product landscape and my design expertise to make decisions on the visual direction of the platform.

Conclusion

After an intensive seven weeks and 143 hours of planning, researching, synthesizing, prototyping, testing, and designing, the product landed in great shape. I originally had more deliverables planned for this project but needed to pivot to meet deadlines. I eliminated a card sorting exercise because it would have taken too many days to build and receive feedback. I also skipped user stories and flows. I wish I still had taken 30 minutes to think through user task flows because it would have helped me feel more confident that I was prototyping the right pages and testing the rights tasks.

In addition to gaining experience in the iterative design process, I also learned a lot about managing and organizing a large project independently. I managed a comprehensive documentation of everything that went into bringing this project into fruition, which has become an artifact of its own and something I will reference in planning future projects.

Next, I would like to conduct another round of usability testing with more participants, using the latest prototype and evaluating significant tasks—like working through a lesson, projecting net retirement worth, setting a short-term goal, and testing financial literacy. I also think that a dairy study would be a beneficial form of research to conduct, since this is the type of product people would use and gain value from over an extended period of time.

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