A design thinking exercise case study

Exercise #2 of Ironhack’s prework for the /UI Design bootcamp.

The second Ironhack UX/UI prework task consists on using Design Thinking to solve a problem for our client Whole . This company wants to become a more user-friendly and innovative . Right now their focus is on traveling customers and the problems credit/debit cards present when abroad. Whole already has an operating mobile so the task is a that allows users to pay without the need of a physical card. It’s no secret that I have a passion for Fintech and I’ve written in the past about it, so I was super excited to take on this challenge.

For more info about Design Thinking check out IDEO, Nielsen Norman Group, and a long etc.

To dig deeper into what would be a good solution for Whole Bank’s users I interviewed 3 kinds of tech-savvy travelers — exchange students (2), business travelers (1), tourists (1) and a business/tourist hybrid profile (1). After talking to them it seemed clear that, in most cases, the problems they have when traveling wouldn’t be solved by changing a physical card for a digital one. The main reasons they presented are:

  • Smartphones get stolen more often than wallets
  • The businesses that don’t accept physical cards wouldn’t accept the digital ones either since the technology used (NFC), the provider (MasterCard, Visa…) and the system (card vs cash) would be the same
  • Digital cards can only be used through NFC (not swiping, for instance) so they are actually accepted in even less places than their physical counterparts

On top of that, we must consider the other options that are already available and well-established, such as Apple Pay. Thanks to virtual wallets like Apple’s, the user can have many cards from different providers, accounts and even banks stored in the same place so it’s unlikely that they will abandon this system for a more restrictive one (i.e. being able to pay only with Whole Bank’s accounts).

That said, there was a user group that mentioned that could benefit from an app with a digital payment feature that had more options than the existing wallets: kids/young adults that are studying abroad and their parents.

At this point I felt it was necessary to get more information to validate the hypotesis that international students and their families would be the ones to benefit the most from this new feature. I didn’t want to solve a problem that wasn’t there so I went back to step one and conducted a couple more interviews with parents that had their kids studying abroad. After receiving this second round of feedback I could identify the features that would give more value for the users. I also considered which would be the easiest to implement and those were the ones that I added to the first iteration.

From Intercom on Product Management, only one of a few amazing books Intercom has published.

Now using Whole Bank’s app, the parents could:

  • Easily top up their children’s account
  • Set a weekly allowance
  • Exchange money directly to get more favorable rates (similar than the feature Revolut offers)

On the other hand, students could:

  • Pay with the only object that they always — their smartphone
  • Check the amount left in total and that particular week
  • Request an advanced top up
  • Learn how to manage their money

With a clear understanding of what the user needs were, my goal was to create a feature that was easy to use and seemlessly integrated in the user’s daily life. Apple Pay is a great product partly because of this and clearly served as an inspiration. At the same time, it was important to transmit Whole Bank is secure and transparent — no secret comissions or rates, no upsetting surprises. Therefore the language used was simple and direct and two confirmation screens (identification and payment) were added for extra clarity.

Below you can check the prototype used to test the proposed solution 👇

Whole Bank’s Mobile App Home Screen | Second log in with Face ID (or equivalent) | NFC Payment instructions
(cont.) Final payment check | Payment confirmation | Home Screen with updated amounts

If this feature proved to be successful, next steps would include separating the parent’s and the child’s options — either by creating two separate apps or by habilitating a set of options according to each user’s role. Last but not least, adding a smartwatch app would make Whole Bank’s services even more convenient to use.

After finishing the exercise, two things come to mind. The first one is that I should have documented my process way better. When I sat down to write my experience I realized how much could I have used some graphic documentation of my process. I definitely take that as a learning for next times.

The second is that I had so much fun that this project doesn’t feel finished at all. I look forward to continue testing the prototype, making tweaks and major changes, add the other features (such as top up or set weekly allowance)—in short, I can’t wait to keep designing.

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