How far can we push a project in 5 days?

To see how far we could go, we set ourselves the challenge of encouraging people in their 20s to start thinking about their retirement. Continue reading to find out how far we got.

Published in
7 min readFeb 26, 2018


The Brief 📄

We at Fuxblau, a Service Design Agency in Berlin, wanted to create a case study with a topic relevant to society while using this opportunity to try out new methods and tools. The overall concept ought to touch both, the service experience from the users’ perspective as well as the overall business model:

Create a service which supports people in their 20s to start doing something for their retirement plan.

Learning About Real Needs: Guerrilla Research 🔍

To help us frame our problem and test our assumptions we started our project with a brief set of guerrilla interviews with people in their 20s.

We discovered mental as well as informational barriers:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start
  • Having the impression it’s not worth it until you have a stable income
  • Not feeling comfortable committing to monthly payments as you never know where you’ll be in 2 or 3 years from now
  • A general distrust towards non-independent consultants

Making Ideas Tangible: Working with Paper Prototypes ✋

Guided by the insights and our ‘How Might We …? Questions’ we created and tested two concepts with people between the age of 26–32.

Our paper prototypes

1. Website with interviews of real people

An awareness website with videos of real people talking about their life style, profession and retirement plan. The aim is to make pension more tangible by bringing the topic alive via real people and their experiences.

2. Create an avatar of your future self

Users can create an avatar of their future self, including their desired life style. The application then calculates what this life style would roughly cost. The avatar behaves like a Tamagotchi, and gives visual feedback based on the current saving habits. If users save more than usual, their avatar might move into a nicer apartment, have different holiday pictures on the wall and look happier. Bonus idea: receiving a post card from their future self from the holiday they were able to afford due to the great saving habits.

Through our testing sessions we realized that we needed to approach the issue more holistically — people were looking for guidance throughout the whole process.

The Result In A Nutshell: The Service-Prototype ✨

Back in our office we held a workshop session, where through creating a user journey, a business model canvas and a stakeholder map we identified gaps and opportunities in our concept.

The new concept would guide the user through all phases from (1) getting interested, (2) recognizing the importance of starting now, (3) understanding the current financial situation, (4) identifying saving & investment potentials to (5) actually start saving and staying motivated.
The entry point to the journey may vary depending on how much thought and research the individual may have invested prior to coming across our service.

1. Interviews — Creating Awareness 👀

The user is introduced to the topic by people with a similar background.

Short videos, which can be filtered by industry and employment status, give brief intros to people, their job & life style and what they do to prepare for their pension. The details of their finances, savings and preparations can further be explored on their profiles.

Wireframes of our prototype

2. Pension-Calculator — Recognizing the Importance of Starting Now 👇

The pension calculator aims to convey the urgency of starting to do something now rather than later.

After adding basic income details the user receives an estimate of their pension. They can compare it with an ideal minimum pension, painting a picture what life style this pension allows, to make the effects more tangible. The app suggests next possible steps, nudging the user to calculate their saving potential or directly booking an appointment with a financial coach.

Wireframes of our prototype

3. Saving–Potential — Understanding One’s Current Financial Situation 💵

This calculator helps to gain a rough understanding of the current financial situation by summing up your income and expenses.

To make it as easy as possible for the user, it is separated into yearly, monthly and weekly expenses. Especially the weekly expenses encourage the user to think about all the ‘little’ expenses like a coffee to go. This may trigger the user to pay more attention to what they actually spend money on and to reflect on the necessity of the purchase.

Wireframes of our prototype

4. Call-To-Action — Start Saving 🐖

Based on their saving potential the users receive investment recommendations.

The total saving potential consists of monthly surplus + saving tips. These tips may include how to save more money through small behavioural changes like cooking more at home. It then recommends the user 3 investment options, explaining their pros and cons. In this example the user receives the proposals to invest in their education, ETF funds or a gym membership to reduce health costs and improving quality of life at old age. The user is then encouraged to consult their friends and family or directly book an appointment with one of the independent coaches.


The coaches are independent and trained consultants, who look into the users’ personal context and guides them throughout the next steps, provide support and assist in signing the most suitable contracts. The coaches do not receive any provision to ensure their independency.

Wireframes of our prototype

Business Model & Stakeholder-Map 🗺

As it became clear what we wanted to provide, we took a closer look into the business model that could carry this service.

Free Entry Into The Service

As the main aim is to break down the barriers of young people looking into and making a retirement plan, the service needs to be free of charge until booking an appointment with one of the coaches. The user can dive deep into the topic, inform themselves and explore suitable possibilities from a neutral source before having to pay a single cent.

Coach provisions — Primary Income Stream

The free service guides the user closer to booking an appointment with a coach. The Service provider receives a provision for each consultation.

Data reports — Secondary Income Stream

Reports, consisting of behaviour analysis and trends, could be sold to banks, insurances and retirement providers in order to improve their services.

With More Time: Next Steps? 👉

We finished our 5-day project with another round of testing via video chat. The overall feedback was very positive; the neutrality of the service was well perceived as well as helpfulness and benefits for the users. We achieved a lot in the short time frame, nevertheless, there is obviously space to grow and improve the concept and prototype. The main wish, was to be able to track their daily expenses once they start saving. This will allow them to get a more accurate overview of their finances and stay motivated.

Reflection: What Did We Learn? 💭

It became clear that each person has very individual life and saving goals. Especially for the first part it became a challenge for the design, keeping it simple and clear while allowing it to be very individual. — Birga

Through having the space and time to push ourselves into different roles internally — designers practicing their research skills, researchers working on wireframes — we created a safe space to learn and better understand what the others do and how we can support each other in future projects. Bringing a more holistic approach to our work atmosphere. — Maya

Using paper prototypes to start conversations so early on in the process quickly led us to creating a more holistic user journey. Looking at the outcome, with the benefits of this service being so obvious, the question arises: Why does this not exist yet? — José Ernesto

If you’ve enjoyed this article, we’d be happy if you clap at the bottom of this page. That way, more people will be able to discover it.

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Fuxblau translates user needs into business models using service design. Our passions are the service economy and business innovation.