How our user research helped shape the design of the new MoneyBrilliant money management app for mobile.
Client: MoneyBrilliant (formerly Cha-Ching)
Engagement: User research
Location: Sydney, Australia
MoneyBrilliant was founded by Peter Lord in 2011 to help people better manage their money. Since then, led by CEO Jemma Enright, the team have developed a rich digital platform for tracking personal finances and providing guidance to better manage money by reducing expenses and saving more. Although the company focus is on empowering women to manage money, the tools are used not only by women, but also men and families across all walks of life. Since its reslease in 2014, MoneyBrilliant has attracted a growing following of dedicated users.
Earlier this year MoneyBrilliant started planning a mobile expansion of their offering, engaging Cognitive Ink to carry out user research. The aim of this research was to help the team decide which features most effectively support their customers' money management needs and should therefore be included in the new mobile app.
"Which features will our mobile users really need?"
Exploring needs with real people has to anchor on what people understand best; the everyday stories of their lives. Asking someone directly about which features they need or want can often result in answers coloured by cognitive and social biases. In contrast, we wanted to understand peoples' implicit needs when it came to the day-to-day management of their money; (how do they manage their money and why do they do what they do?)
Our research approach
To focus on implicit needs, our research sessions were therefore focused on storytelling. We talked with users about their successful moments in money management, failures and other areas of their lives where management practices came into play.
This led into a brainstorming technique we called "The Genie". This works by proposing that a person's wishes can be granted by an imaginary figure, no matter how improbable or impractical the idea might be. This framing allowed people to brainstorm a wide range of "blue sky" ideas and solutions, free from the usual "reality-check" limits we would usually impose on ourselves when it comes to thinking about technology.
We also presented participants with a number of existing ideas (derived both from existing features in the desktop version of MoneyBrilliant as well as some from earlier participants) and let people react, provide their prospectives and suggestions and then rank their preferences. Presenting the ideas on"quick sketch" paper cards(as opposed to professional screen designs) allowed people to focus on the concepts of the ideas and how this would affect money management in the context of their lives. The "easy to change" perception of paper also encouraged participants in making suggestions for change.
Putting it all together
Ideas, material and notes produced during the interviews was synthesised alongside survey data and pure domain research. Using multiple types of research makes it easier to avoid biases adopted by using insights gained from a single style of research. The focus of the analysis was to create behavioural models that could predict the suitability of proposed solutions and to provide design guidelines for how to implement the features in a mobile experience.
We considered that mobile interactions often occur in the context of limited time and/or busy environments. Mobile users would therefore use the features differently from someone sitting down at a computer.
By participating in the research, the MoneyBrilliant team gained deeper insights into:
- how people solve and fail to solve their financial problems
- where financial activity fits into a person's daily life
- what solutions suit novices versus those that suit experts
Twenty proposed features for the mobile experience were winnowed down to a short list of four heavily-validated features for the MoneyBrilliant mobile experience. Outcomes from the research were used to inform and revise screen designs.
The MoneyBrilliant mobile app was released early 2015 and we've been excited to hear its release has since resulted in a steady 50% month-on-month growth in MoneyBrilliant users.
Words from the MoneyBrilliant team
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