Freelance UX Consultant & Designer

Helping small businesses budget

 
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At a glance

Tide is a FinTech start-up providing banking and financial services to small businesses operating within the UK. Tide's working to humanise finance; to provide banking tools as fluid, adaptable, and customisable as small businesses themselves. Typically, business accounts take upwards of two weeks before registering with commercial banks, while Tide's system grants legal, working, full-access accounts in less than five minutes (all from an iPhone). 

In a three-man team, we worked in a lean UX process weaving B2B budgeting and spend analytics features into an existing interface. In a two-and-a-half week sprint, we spanned the double diamond design process. Starting with ten in-depth interviews, we drafted low and mid-fidelity prototypes, conducted ten usability tests, created a working high-fidelity prototype, and presented our design to three TIDE stakeholders (including the CEO).

 
 

Services I provided

Visual Design
Usability Testing
Concept Creation
Stakeholder Pitch

Project Type

Product design

Medium

iPhone app

← Back to User Experience


Research

Reframing the brief, we set out to assess and accomplish the following:

  • Whether a revenue and spend analytics feature would be useful in a B2B setting.
  • Empower Tide customers to better manage their money by creating a user-centric revenue and spend analytics solution.
  • Understand how Tide customers want to see spend information represented.
  • Recommend how a revenue and spend analytics feature could integrate with Tide's existing prototype.
     

Our UX team focused on the following key objectives:

  1. Understand the processes and challenges users face when using revenue and spend analytic solutions.
  2. Understand the role banks' play in helping users manage their money.
  3. Ascertain how users would want their banks to help manage business expenditures.
     

The methodology and techniques used in capturing quantitative and qualitative information:

 
 

Is budgeting a consistent process for you? If it isn’t, why not?

"I’ve worked for a lot of start ups, and we rarely have an official process. Why? Just a lack of preparation, a lack of wanting to purchase systems, and mainly a lack of time. The single biggest reason for us: things change too quickly. We're constantly moving and evolving. Within two months, we've changed our entire structure." -Gemma, working Finance at OnDevice

Would spend analytics give you a deeper insight into the businesses past, present and future performance trends?

"It would allow me to plan strategically. Allow me to see patterns of growth, expense, and trends. Also, it would give me a good indication on the bottom line, you know, if we're making a profit or loss." -David, Maryland Engineering

Do you consistently use bank categorisation to help you manage your money?

I still have to categorise all the information even after these transaction have been labeled, because I don't the labeling the bank provides. I need the bank to get out the way; how can I hide some of the noise I don’t need?
 

Research output

Our research brought to light two distinct user types: video creators and video consumers; within those two subsets sit two extremes, the active creator / consumer and casual creator / consumer. The remainder of our research was summarised into a few insight points:

  • In terms of spend analytics, the third-party market (where a user is required to link one or multiple bank accounts) is very saturated. Only a very limited amount of companies (Mondo) are analysing this raw transaction data and offering actionable user- suggestions (as a business partner would). High street banks (i.e. Lloyds, Barclays, etc) have also jumped into the space by providing spend analytics through a consumer’s account.
     

  • Because no third party application is able to directly access bank information without a user’s consent, an initial manual set-up is inevitable. User’s are required to input salaries, recurring transactions, and transaction categorisation. The more effort a user puts in initially (and with monthly maintenance), the better, more robust the results.
     

  • Spend analytics and spend forecasting is mainly displayed in chart form (usually bar or pie). These numbers are often found by subtracting a user’s inputted income from a user’s inputted recurring payments. These payments are oftentimes categorised and broken down by ‘tags’ or labels’ and colour. Some applications have gone as far as separating expenses by company, allowing users to see total payments made to ‘Amazon.’
     

Personas

Our team set out to answer: which types of people would be using these features? From our research, we pulled three distinct user types: the sporadic budgeter, the structured idealist, and power-hungry customiser. Each of these types requires a different level of detail, and power from spend analytics. We decided to focus on Maria: someone who's familiar with budgeting, but could use a hand.

 

Design principles

We synthesised our research into a few strong words that helped us drive our designs and conversations:

Be proactive, not reactive

  • To create a truly user-centric solution, we must ensure our design is proactive, not reactive. It must empower people to manage their money but providing them with the right information, at the right time, via the right channel.

Be Flexible

  • Time and time again, users tell us that every business is different. They want to be able to customise the information they see when using revenue and spend analytics, based on their individual needs.

Be Human

  • We need to make spend analytics look simple. Too often, the design of spend analytics solution mirror the bank: complicated and jargon-rich. Our design should continue Tide's work in humanising the experience.

Move at a Fast Pace

  • We recognise that many small businesses operate in a fast paced, transient, flexible environment where cash flow is king; money is managed on a fluid, ongoing basis. Our design should recognise this by minimising the time users spend using the features, and by enabling live updates and lightening fast results.
     

Tone of Voice / Language

  • Supportive, but not authoritative

  • Understanding, but it’s clear

  • Professional, but not formal

  • Encouraging, but not patronising

  • Proactive, but not intrusive
     
 

Design studio

We had the ability to introduce, and run, a design studio with our clients. After presenting a few of our research findings, we held our creative workshop focused on our pinical screen: the dashboard.

 

Prototyping

We ran through multiple versions, creating various paper-prototypes, updated mid-fidelity wire-frames, and more. Every bit of feedback was extremely valuable, especially when our team took our final design to small business owners, financial teams, and freelancers.

 

Visual design

Keeping with the overall Twitch aesthetic we ramped up the fidelity. Each round of testing brought to light crucial changes in our design from the placement of our donation button, to providing guidance through the uploading experience. 

 
Dashboard (Low-Fidelity)

Dashboard (Low-Fidelity)

I love the idea of showing my uncategorised transactions, but that’s just not what I expected to see on this screen. It seems like it’s a different type of information.
— Tony, USIO
Comparison (Low-Fidelity)

Comparison (Low-Fidelity)

Graphs are great, but on a mobile platform it’s hard to tell what the numbers are. Is there a way to make it more obvious?
— Betsy, (Owner) Brick Lane Books
Spending Confirmation (Low-Fidelity)

Spending Confirmation (Low-Fidelity)

I like this idea, but is there a way to keep it more interactive? How can my bank remind me of my progress throughout the month?
— Chloe, Freelance Fitness Coach
 

Design Recommendations

Three major recommendations that came out our last round of usability testing: 

Alerts with actionable responses

  • Although our idea of alerts first came about to help shape spending behaviour, the application could be wide-spread within the app.
  • Alerts (i.e. an unpaid invoice is past due) should include the ability to directly call and follow-up.

Exportable, pre-formatted comparison documents

  • Helping small businesses is the nature of Tide, and saving time is essential.
  • When people use the 'Comparison' feature within our Money Tracker suit, they should be able to export the data in branded, professional-standard templates.

Ghost accounts for financial advisors or accountants

  • Allowing a type of 'ghost account' that suggests categories would make the handoff between small business and accountant that much easier.
 

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