New Personal Finance Management Features for the current app

Project Overview


Venmo was founded in 2009 by two former college roommates who wanted a better way to pay each other back. What started off as a simple SMS platform to send and receive money has evolved into a social payments app allowing people to split bills, pay each other back for rent, and make purchases at approved merchants.

They have put a lot of effort in providing a seamless experience through its current features, but now they want to go beyond and not just provide these functions, but also tools to help them manage money better. Seeing an opportunity to make a difference and help Millennials with their financial challenges, they now want to develop typical personal finance management features include saving goals, budgets, calculators, and expense tracking.


  • Design a new personal finance management feature that embeds within the current Venmo app and in the operating system of your choice. Make sure it embeds well and smoothly with the rest of the app.

Project Scope

Adding features to an existing app


Figma, Adobe Illustrator, InVision, Zeplin


UX Designer (Research, Visual Design, Interaction Design, User Testing)


Self Directed, with feedback from the mentor and peers


2 Weeks (80 Hours)

View Prototype

Design Process

01 Research

Research Plan

Research enables me to dig deep into my understanding of users - not only their immediate frustrations, but also their hopes, fears, abilities, limitations, reasoning, and goals. It lays essential foundations for creating solutions in later stages.

To ensure the research stays on track and better guide the responsive website design later, it is important to create a research plan before diving into the reseach phase. I listed research goals, research questions, assumptions, methodologies, participants, and timeline in my research plan.

Research Goals



Secondary Research

Market Research

It is important to get a big picture of the market by starting with market research - to get a sense of what we know and don't know yet, who the audience are, as well as what the recent trends or news are. The insights we gathered from market research will help me frame provisional personas and ask meaningful questions in primary research.

As I am designing personal finance management features for a P2P payment software, I started to gather some knowledge of the market on both ends. I then dived deeper to know different aspects of Venmo, including its users, features, and operations. Finally, based on the demographic knowledge I gathered when researching Venmo, I looked into the spending habits and personal finance management of that specific population.

P2P Payment Service Market

Personal Finance Management Service Market


User's Behaviors

Competitive Research

It is equally important to research other P2P payment apps, as their strengths and weaknesses will not only shed light on the key areas we should strive to maintain the high quality, but also help me identify any opportunities for Venmo to emphasize. Based on the knowledge I gathered from market research, I analyzed 3 direct competitors as shown below, who are major P2P payment service providers, and 2 indirect competitors, who integrate P2P payment features into their service. A complete competitive research can be viewed here.

Provisional Persona

With the data gathered from market research, I started to generate provisional personas using the statistical and behavioral knowledge I gained to represent a certain type of user that are potential audience of Venmo. These personas will help me screen appropriate people to interview.

Primary Research

User Interview

Building on a general understanding of the market and the audience, it is time to dive deeper and build real connection with our user and gain direct insights on them by primary research.

I created an Interview Guide to facilitate the user interview process, with 11 open-ended questions listed to invite the participants to share their experiences with Venmo and stories about personal finance management. I set up a screening question to identify people that are frequent users of Venmo, who use the app at least a few times a week. In total, I invited 5 participants (4 males, 1 female) to participate in the interview.

Assumptions Validated

Research Synthesis

Empathy Map

To synthesize the qualitative data gathered from user interview, I created an empathy map to identify patterns across users, uncover insights, and generate needs.


  • Users want to track every spending without
    missing anything.
  • Users prefer their spendings to be automatically categorized.
  • Users encounter difficultires when splitting bills paid by multiple people.


  • Users need to identify issues in their spending habits.
  • Users need to reduce the time spent on managing
    personal finance.
  • Users need to calculate the amount of money each person has to pay easily.

User Persona

Since I have gathered a bunch of knowledge of the audience, as well as their goals and needs, I use the user persona to represent key audience segments. It helps me focus on tackling the most important problems – to address the major needs of the most important user groups. It is both fictional and realistic. Every time I made a design decision, I think about how would it satisfy the needs of the persona.

Let's meet Simon, a 27-year-old data analyst in New York. He has just started his career, and he wants to makre sure he makes prudent decisions in terms of managing his personal finance.

02 Strategy

How Might We...

To define the problem I am going to solve, I create Point-of-View (POV) Statements that allow me to ideate in a goal-oriented manner, and How-Might-We (HMW) Questions to frame the ideation in the brainstorm session for solutions. The statements and questions are generated based on the insights and needs I gathered in my Empathy Map.


Individual Brainstorm

Centering on these questions, I then brainstormed solutions. I spent 3 minutes on each HMW question, and moved on to the next HMW question when the time is up. I then did a second round for each question, and finally arrived at my brainstorm results.

Group Brainstorm

Apart from individual brainstorm, I facilitate a group brainstorm session with 3 participants. This activity helps me gather more solutions proposed from different minds of people. Before the group brainstorming, I sent out an agenda to each participant. For each question, the participants spent 3 minutes brainstorming and 2 minutes posting the sticky notes on Miro, an online collaborative tool. After two rounds of brainstorming, we spent 5 minutes discussing the brainstorming results.

Product Goals

With HMW questions and brainstormed solutions, I decided to list project goals that will both serve as a guide for the future development of the product and a rubrics for determining what features to include in the website.

I established business goals by referring to published coverages of Venmo business, and summarized user goals from my user persona and empathy map. To make sure the product we are developing is both usable and sustainable, I identified mutual goals by aligning specific business goals and user goals.

Product Roadmap

I then started to put the solutions I brainstormed into a list of product features to create a comprehensive product roadmap. These features were sorted into four categories, including Must-have (P1), Nice-to-Have (P2), Surprising and Delightful (P3), and Can-come-later (P4) features. They were sorted based on how well they can help achieve business goals and user goals.

Product Roadmap not only infuses the project goals into our product, but also ensures we prioritize the most important features in the development cycle.

Application Map

After setting up the product goals and deciding what features to include, I want to continue building up the structure of the app using the application map. An Application map helps me to visualize the relationship between the content and examine the hierarchy.

I first mapped the existing sapplication map of Venmo, and identified sections where I can add the new features.

03 Design

Task Flow

To decide what I am designing, identifying the main flow of users when completing a task helps me to direct my focus on designing specific pages. By creating task flows that center on the new features I am adding for Venmo, I was able to think through the necessary steps and examine the user experience in details. Below is the flow for 1 task, and a complete diagram of task flow can be viewed here.

User Flow

Building on the task flow, I mapped user flows whose scenarios correspond to the established tasks. The decision trees were added for me to think through what actions users would take based on their feelings with the website. Below is one example user flow, and a complete user flow could be viewed here.



After creating an UI Requirement Document with a to-do list for designing the key screens identified in the task flow and user flow, I started sketching low-fidelity screens. I can capture my ideas by pen and paper quickly by sketching. It also enables me to examine my ideas before putting everything in the daunting process of digitizing.

High-Fidelity Wireframes

High-Fidelity Wireframe

Once I had a visual direction of the layout, I started to add more details and precisions to the sketches by turning them into high-fidelity wireframes. Creating high-fidelity wireframes helps me focus on the visual consistency and hierarchy before applying styles. In these wireframes, I tried to incorporate existing design patterns of Venmo that have been applied elsewhere in the app. By following the extablished design system, I attempted to integrate the newly-added features seamlessly into Venmo.

04 Prototype & Test

High-Fidelity Prototype

After I finished designing screens that are necessary for users to finish tasks, I linked those pages using InvisionApp and created a high-fidelity prototype for usability testing. Conducting usability testing using a high-fidelity prototype is useful for detecting issues in information architecture and flows that generate frictions for users.

Tasks include:

Usability Testing

Prepare for the Usability Testing

Before usability testing, it is important to set up test objectives, subject, methodology, tasks, and rubrics for measuring the result of the testing before conducting a test. Therefore, I wrote a usability testing plan to define what and why I want to test and get prepared for the test.

I expect a 100% completion rate since all tasks are normal steps for managing finance and were designed using existing patterns of Venmo. I also expect a 90% error-free rate because the prototype is not fully functioning, and users might take alternatives that have not been built up for completing the tasks.

Conduct Usability Testing

I then conducted both in-person and remote usability testing with 5 participants, and created transcripts for each participant based on my observation of their interaction with the prototype. I jot down their mistakes, slips, and confusions they expressed in the process. This transcript is a perfect raw material for summarizing the patterns of user’s interaction with the prototype.

Affinity Map

The results from the usability testing could be summarized by creating an affinity map. Like the empathy map, it is effective in helping us find patterns and frustrations when users are interacting with the prototype, and identify areas of improvements based on priority levels.

I represent each participant using a unique color, and categorize the observation by success, patterns, and frustrations. I only listed patterns that are shared by a majority of participants. For each pattern from frustrations, I uncovered one insight, and generate one recommendation. I then ranked the recommendation based on the priority level, where I will fix problems that affect key functions for our website and customers’ quick recognition of the brand.


  • 4/5 Users thought the 7-day spending trend diagram didn’tmake sense.
  • 4/5 Users thought it confusing to add more payers in the split calculator.
  • 4/5 Users thought tapping the back arrow was not convenient when selecting time period.


  • 7-day spending was not enough for user to understand their spending trend.
  • The interface was not performing well in terms of learnability.
  • Users expect an automatic redirection to the screen after applying a filter.


  • Change the bar chart to trend line of the spending during the selected time period. (High)
  • Add a step-by-step note to guide the user to access the calculator.(Moderate)
  • Edit the flow to remove the step of tapping the back arrow to view spending summary. (Low)

Style Tile

To perfectly integrate the new features into the existing app, I incorporated existing brand materials into a style tile, serving as a synthesizing document of the logos, color palette, typography, and imagery.

I also summarized specific brand attributes in the process of looking for existing guidelines, including trustable, friendly, specific, and simple.

UI Kit

UI Kit is a compilation of existing UI elements on the website that provides references for future design and collaboration for the design team. It is also a living document and will be updated whenever there is an iteration of the design. Below is a part of the Venmo UI Kit, and the full version can be accessed here.

Final Prototype

With all the high-fidelity pages designed, I built up the final prototype, a scaled-down version of the product using InvisionApp.
View Prototype

Final Thoughts + Next Steps

Final Thoughts

With the final prototype created, I believe I have met the goals that were outlined in the beginning of the design process. I added new features based the needs I summarized from user interview, which integreates into the existing app to create minimal frictions for existing features.

If I had more time, I would dive deeper in the data visualization aspects of the spending summary, and think more about iterating on the socializing features of Venmo. These features would add more characteristics to the business and increase the competitiveness.

Next Steps

Design Implementation & Handoff

Since the design has been tested and revised, it is ready to enter the development phase. In order to effectively communicate the design to developers, I redlined and organized my design deliverables using Zeplin for handoff, and prepared to assist with any follow-up questions.


Updates and revisions will continue to exist in the future, and I will address them based on the priority levels.

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