Exploration into the Future of Banking Applications

IXDS A4 Design Process: Week 1

Over the next six weeks, I’ll be publishing a weekly design-process blog on behalf of a team of fellow designers. We are designing a banking-related application for our Interaction Design Studio at M-ITI / Carnegie Mellon University HCII.

We were tasked with creating a new, customer-centric, banking-related application that spans desktop, mobile, and watches. Fortunately for us though unfortunately for bank users, banking has many complications that can harm user experience. We needed to choose one to keep our six week assignment focused.

To build teams, our professor split up a group of students who are, in a different class, researching and designing a contextually aware banking application. I happen to be on that team, so my team can utilize my previous three and a half months of banking research.

Banking topics that we voted on to choose our project’s focus.


With our team, we started a brainstorm, exploring what might be interesting to us. To the whiteboard!

We took our list and voted based on what we were interested in exploring. Each member gets three votes.

After our first round, we narrowed our options and voted again. Any choice relies on the other components of banking, but our project’s locus is budgets.

Research Plan

With a focus, we can plan our research. We decided to attack the problem with multiple research methods.

  • Competitive analysis: a look at the banking marketplace
  • Heuristic evaluation: a breakdown of what Mint.com based on usability heuristics
  • Interviews: one-on-one interviews with individuals for detailed, qualitative accounts of how they budget (or not) and how they think about managing their capital
  • Surveys: a sweep of potential users for quantitative information, a supplement to our interviews

After creating our research plan, we decided to focus our work even more by refining our potential users to young professionals. This group of humans faces unique budgeting problems, namely that they are just beginning to make serious budgets.

The team. From left: Marco Garces, Vanessa Cesário, Jason Eaglin, Iris T. Wu, and not photographed Andrew R McHugh (me, who took the photo).

Next Steps

We spent the weekend interviewing our users, each team member interviewing two people with questions put together by Iris, Vanessa, and Marco. Jason compiled the heuristic analysis on Mint.com. I put together a competitive analysis based on my previous work.

The next step is to compile our work into something useful for our design phase. Next week, we will publish our research findings and synthesis.