$plitr — Migraineless restaurant bill-splitting

Throwback Tuesday: The mobile app design challenge that got me into the UX programme at General Assembly

Kurien Kalarickal
Dec 4, 2018 · 4 min read

I graduated from the UX Design course about a month ago and I am currently going through the most enjoyable phase of work-life — job hunt (while also rekindling the love affair I had with my bed and TV). I must admit that I am also harbouring very satisfying fantasies of massive Christmas trees falling on top of the HR people of companies I have applied to, but never responded. On that note, Merry Christmas everyone.

This showed up in one of my group chats and it reminded me of my first app design attempt.

From my own experiences, and informal chats with friends over dinner (which we split equally), I identified the major pain points. That’s some user research right there before I even learned it was called that.

I had used apps like Billmonk and Splitwise, which worked well when it was always the same small group. Everyone had them installed. The owed amounts would normally cancel each other out over time. You only had to pay up when the money owed was substantial. That’s some competitor analysis right there before I even learned it was called that. But this would never work out in a big group because:

  1. Accessibility: everyone needed to have the app installed if the splitting and tracking had to work well.
  2. Tedious: When everyone else is enjoying, that one helpful Hannah would be manually keying in all the figures and figuring out who had what. And then there’s dealing with all the change. Some just can't be bothered and just split equally and round up the amount to a nice number to preserve their zen. But that’s kinda unfair for Pramod who just showed up for one round of drinks and don't even know most of the people. He goes with it anyway because utilitarianism.
  3. Human behaviour: You still have to chase people to pay up. That’s a bit awkward if you have to do it more than a couple of times. For both the chaser and the chasee.

That’s some research synthesis and very rudimentary personas right there before I even learned it was called that.

I listed out ideas (in red) for features to be included in the solution for the identified problems (in white). No feature prioritization whatsoever.

And off I went straight for the kill. No wireframing. No sketching. Just dived straight into the final thing. To be fair I did have an idea of the flow of screens. In my head! That’s some user flow right there before I even learned it was called that.

This is the loading screen and the dashboard:

And then you add the diners in your group and snap a pic of your bill:

This is what it looks like if you are the one doing the splitting:

This is what it looks like when you receive a notification regarding the bill. And it takes you to your payment app:

Not bad huh? At a time when I had no formal UX training. And all this was done in a span of 3 days. Using Google Slides and Illustrator! I was so proud of the interface, like OMG it looks like an app! I showed it (off) to a couple of friends to let me know what they thought of it. That’s some usability testing right there before I even learned it was called that.

On hindsight, it looks like some Nielsen’s heuristics is also going on in there — Error prevention via confirmation screens, Use of prevailing conventions, Flexibility of use (you could still choose to split equally), and I’d like to think its aesthetic and minimalist too.

P.S. I haven’t done any rework on the design so I could present it with all its glows and flaws.

UX is in my blood (hire me)

Sending a swab-kit to genealogy.com to see if I am related to Nielsen or Norman.

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