Gilly Johnson
Feb 12, 2017 · Unlisted

Hello, Amanda, Kate, and Gilly here! This semester for our Learner Experience Design (LXD) course, we are working with PNC to grow share of wallet with current mass affluent customers by enhancing the experience at one or more key interaction points.

So how will we do this? Building on the work and research done by PNC, we will design learning experiences or interactions that tackle the design challenges identified from PNC’s research. Using learning theory, user experience design, and user interface design methods we will explore ways to engage learners in bridging the long-term and short-term financial divide, help learners understand different types of financial services, guide learners through better decision making, and design more meaningful relationships and interactions with PNC.

We are Team Boggle and we aim to communicate complexity with clarity.

Below we have organized our notes in chronological order. These notes include our thoughts on learning theories, in-class design prompts, and design ideas.

Today in class we worked on breaking down…

PROMPT 1: FINANCIAL BALANCE- bridge the gap between short-term management and long-term planning by designing a tool that aids customers’ awareness of financial opportunities, teaches them about relevant dependencies and helps them take action in the form of better financial decision-making.

We looked at the major stakeholders, considering what might their goals and role be in trying to bridge the gap between short-term and long-term financial management.

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Map of all relevant stakeholders for prompt 1

We also looked at the different services that the bank provides, and how these could be broken down into short-term and long-term planning and management for the customer.

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Mapping of different types of financial services

We concluded our session by trying one of the mapping activities we learned about in our class readings. We established a starting point, a goal or a place we want to end up at, and then attempted to create a timeline of events and steps that we need to take in order to reach our final goal.

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Identifying and breaking down different subgoals to reach the end goal

Outcome: Overview of the problem space, the stakeholders involved, and the different types of services that PNC or other financial institutions provide.

In class we described the beginning point for many of our learners and mapped out the knowledge and component skills learners would need in order to be successful in achieving the ultimate learning goal. We assumed many of our learners would start with short-term management skills, but we were interested in how those short-term skills would be able to transfer to long-term planning and management. We broke down the problem space into 4 distinct categories each with relevant skills:

  • Short Term Management: Managing day-to-day expenses, credit card bills, taxes, rainy day account, everyday habits.
  • Awareness of Financial Opportunities: Knowing how to set goals, speaking with a financial advisor, knowing who to go to when help is needed, knowing who to ask for help, strategically investing
  • Understanding of Relevant Dependencies: Knowing different asset types, managing assets in multiple bank accounts
  • Relevancy to Short Term Management: Year to year savings, understanding emergencies and recognizing spending patterns, noticing what they need to be competent in
  • Long Term Management: Knowing how to plan for retirement, financial market literacy, knowing how to delegate network or resources, estate planning

After we mapped out component skills we used the 4Mat learning styles to describe how we would going about teaching these skills or creating an experience that let learners practices these skills relevant to different types of learners. We want the learners to transfer what they know to their current spending and saving habits so we spent a large portion of our time thinking about the “what if” category. Since learner will likely experience new and diverse situations it is important to get them thinking and asking themselves “what if?”

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Using the 4Mat method we were able to apply the learning styles to our project
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Outcomes: Identify knowledge and skills necessary to achieve ultimate learning goal and decompose component skills.

During class, our professor presented “The 6 Facets of Understanding” as described by McTighe and Wiggins in their Understanding by Design.

When we truly understand we:

  1. can explain —
    not simply regurgitating facts but also understanding, describing, and clarifying information; we should encourage learners to explain the who, what, when, where, why, and how
  2. can interpret —
    storytelling (stringing events in a linear fashion to show how one influenced another — a connection of thoughts); we should encourage learners to build a story rather just stating or doing something
  3. can apply —
    using, adapting, and customizing (applying what learners know to diverse contexts to test understanding); we should encourage performance-based learning
  4. have perspective –
    hearing different points of view (understanding a situation through new perspectives); we should include opportunities for learners to confront diverse points of view regarding “the big ideas”
  5. can empathize
    using imagination to see and feel as others see and feel; we should incorporate experiential learning, geared toward making learners directly confront the effects and affects of their decisions, ideas, and theories
  6. have self-knowledge
    understanding what is and is not known; stopping and thinking about where one is in the process; we should incorproate self-reflection

Each team was assigned one of the six facets; we received “can apply” and were asked to reflect on our own learning experiences and choose two that showcased how the method was successfully implemented.

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Our team applied this practice of participant skill acquisition to the first client prompt. We chose the customer as our learner and identified necessary component skills and explored a range of ways to teach each.

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While Amanda explains her thoughts on Self Knowledge, I synthesize and interpret her words, typing them into our Skill Acquisition worksheet. Gilly (not photographed) provides her perspective on performance-based learning.

Each team member stated her initial thoughts, which were then written on the white board. After that, we discussed, collaborated, and built upon those ideas. For example, we determined that “setting goals” is one component skill. From there, we listed the facets of understanding and began jotting down ideas:

Explain. Have customers explain what their goals are and why those goals are important to them.
Interpret. Provide a future time line and ask customers to tell a story of life events within a frame of short- and long-term goals; this timeline will showcase those goals within a holistic format.
Apply. Provide customers with a hypothetical financial goal, how would this affect their short- and long-term management.
Have Perspective and Empathize. Provide various scenarios, such as a “month-in-the-life-of” activity (e.g., if you have this amount of money, how might you allocate that money differently?).
Have Self-Knowledge. Ask customers to differentiate realistic and unrealistic goals via counter examples. The customers are guided through a goal-setting process via a scaffolding activity.

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Below are the various goals we want our learners to achieve, with regards to short-term and long-term financial planning. We looked at five areas: managing day-to-day expenses, recognizing spending patterns and planning for emergencies, setting goals, strategic investing, and financial literacy.

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This week we worked to synthesize all of the models and concepts we’ve learned thus far in LXD.

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We decided to use the McCarthy framework as the basis for our model structure, however we were able to bring the concepts of other models and diagrams into the components and sections of our model.

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Using the McCarthy framework of 4 quadrants to model our diagram for understanding the prompt and brainstorming how to teach the concepts to learners (using Mural to digitally create this map).

Mapping this out was really useful, as we were able to draw connections between concepts we hadn’t really been able to visualize as part of a greater system. We still need to construct our final section, the What If? quadrant; however we are already seeing the ways in which we can develop each area in terms of what opportunities it offers for creating engaging and informative learning experiences for users.

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Developing our white board model (Amanda left, Kate right, Gilly taking photo)

Our next stage will be ideating different aspects of the prompt we want to focus on and create learning experiences for the users. Now that we have the framework for all the touchpoints and concepts, we feel prepared to step into the making and iterating phases of the project.

Our team completed synthesizing and mapping the relevant models and concepts we’ve learned thus far in LXD. We identified main objectives and key/specific concepts; we also developed questions based on those identified concepts and considered possible outcomes the customer might experience. Lastly, we annotated our primary designer responsibilities for each step of the process.

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Our team aslo clarified our approach with regard to the problem space:

  1. Overarching goals: By the end of the learning experience, client customers should know and be able to navigate and effectively plan/manage short- and long-term goals. We would like client customers to view financial planning/management as practicable and align their expectancies with confident “I can accomplish this” tasks.
  2. Assumptions: (Hypotheses, which are grounded in logic, are fine starting points for design. This information may form the basis of our personas.) The client customers: are mass-affluent; have family members to consider, such as a partner or children; want easy-to-understand and enjoyable financial planning/management tools; strive for a clear understanding; rely on and seek advice from external/internal resources.
  3. Learning Opportunities: We aim to teach client customers: how to build models/methods for managing and understanding day-to-day expenses; how to recognize spending patterns and plan for unexpected needs or emergencies; how to set appropriate short- and long-term goals; how to invest strategically; how to contact or reference resources as needed; how to develop their existing financial literacy.
  4. Considerations: Some salient/applicable points and approaches from our readings and exercises include: McCarthy (learning process is cyclical); Wiggins and McTighe (6 Facets of Understanding); Allen (CCAF: context, challenge, activity, feedback); Ambrose and Dirksen (knowledge gap identification); Ambrose (Practice and Feedback Cycle); Salen and Zimmerman (Magic Circle: user immersion); Adams (misconception breaking); Ambrose (experience tailored to learner type and expertise); Dirksen (prior knowledge targeting and incorporation).

This week we worked on putting of our ideas together using all the different learning concepts and theories from class. Our team brainstormed three different ideas and learning experiences for PNC customers.

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Our three scenarios

We then did a speed dating exercise with different groups in our class to pitch our initial ideas. We got a lot of great feedback and insights from talking with other teams. Overall the goal timeline was the favorite of the three of our scenarios.

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Kate and Gilly pitch our initial design ideas
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Our scenarios and ideas for teaching customers about long-term financial goals

Here are things we need to consider as we further iterate on our ideas:

  • Where do these systems and features live? Are they tools that live outside of the PNC website that customers have to access on their own? One suggestion we had for the goal setting tool was to think about how and where customers would access the site, would it be open to non-PNC customers as well?
  • How are customers being made aware of these tools and services? Are they finding out in the mail? From friends? Prompts on the website? These are all things people brought up about the point of entry for these tools.
  • What is the tone you are trying to convey? For the gamification and quiz scenario, some people thought the idea was too playful and not serious enough. This is something we need to consider as many people view money as a serious option.
  • What is the privacy and control of these features/tools/ideas?: Our goals setting tool has the ability to collaborate with other family members or friends, one question someone brought up, was if the account holder was able to hide certain information from people. Making sure their information is safe and they have control over who can see that information is an important design consideration.

Overall, getting some of our initial ideas on paper and pitching them to other in our class gave us some great feedback and further considerations for new design ideas. Our team will continue to iterate on the timeline idea and play around with what collaboration would look like in that space.

After incorporating the feedback on our initial ideas, we decided to expand on the goal setting timeline idea. Some of our key objectives and skills we plan to teach are listed below:

  • Customers can navigate and effectively plan or manage short-and long-term goals: Customers will gain confidence and skills that enable them to tackle long-term aspirations; they will also have the ability to break down large goals into manageable tasks.
  • Customers will grasp the benefits of collaboration to achieve specific short- and/or long-term goals: Customers have the ability and want to collaborate with family members.
  • Customers will view financial planning/management as practicable: Customers can see how their financial actions affect outcomes and understand the trade offs of various planning and management methods.
  • Customers can align their expectancies with confident “I can accomplish this” tasks: Customers can see the value in accomplishing and anticipating the outcomes of short-term goals in relation to their overarching goals.
  • Establish short-term and long-term goals. If we assist customers in setting short-term and long-term goals, then customers will have more realistic expectations and an understanding of different financial services; with practice, customers will be able to better plan and allocate resources alone.
  • Improve mental models for understanding long-term goals. By improving customer’s mental models for understanding short-term and long-term financial management and planning, we believe customers will develop an incentive and learn how to think about their future and long-term goals.
  • Develop financial literacy. By developing customers’ financial literacy, we can prepare and equip customers to better manage personal finances in an efficient manner. This process includes gaining knowledge in making appropriate decisions with regard to investments, insurance, real estate, budgets, retirement, and taxes. We believe that helping customers develop financial literacy will empower and motivate them to manage their expenses and accounts in a way that aligns with their short- and long-term goals.
  • Use resources. By teaching customers about relevant resources available, we believe customers will be able to make better decisions about how to achieve their financial goals.
  • Recognize patterns to plan for unexpected needs or emergencies. By identifying recurring actions in their spending/saving, we believe customers will gain agency over their habits and that it will provide them opportunities for adjusting their spending to save for future expenses.

Our initial design framework and design process lacked an entry point, so we have synthesized our model to reflect the key teaching process and learning theories we will focus on in our design concept.

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This model depicts what we hope learners will learn and achieve in regard to short- and long-term management and planning
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Model of a time line of our learners’ process moving from novice to expert.
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Our group working together to incorporate the feedback a received on our initial concepts

Once we finalized our concept, we expanded on the ways we would envision the concept and present our idea to PNC. We made a flow model to map out how users would interact with our tool and we made some initial interfaces to visualize what the tool would look like.

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Flow model of our initial design concept
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Wireframes of our goal setting tool

We decided to use saving for college as an example to illustrate the ways people can collaborate and learn about information and resources using our tool. The homepage displays all the accounts and goals that the users has synced with the tool. The visual comparison tool lets the customer see how their goals in relation to other goals, and the third screen goes in depth on a specific goal. There is still a lot we need to think about after we pitch our concept, but meeting as a team to think and reflect on our objectives, skills and knowledge helped us come up with a clearer design idea.

On Tuesday, we presented the Goal Planning concept to our class and client. Team Boggle focused its attention on a collaboration functionality.

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Depiction of Team Boggle’s Goal Planning tool and its Collaboration functionality

Both our peers and the client representatives provided actionable feedback:

  • Distinguish this tool from other ones PNC currently offers via branding “personality” (e.g., voice, tone)
  • Feature CTA (Call-to-Action) more prominently
  • Determine if pre-determined goals exist and if those will go as in-depth as the college feature described
  • Simplify the interface by minimizing the amount of information present
  • Develop the visualization of progress over time (e.g., day, month, year, decade); it can boost confidence and reaffirm success
  • Explore how to visualize/provide feedback so customers realize the benefit of practice (e.g., compare past behaviors to present actions to gauge the customer’s interest, skills, and habits)

Today, we spoke about ways to enhance our concept further:

  • Address the buy-in (i.e., hook or catch) through branding, such as color, type, phrasing, hierarchy
  • Consider ways of sustaining motivation (i.e., repeat usage)
  • Reflect on customer benefit
  • Factor in ease of use
  • Entertain how to address differing customer desires/needs (Note: may want to choose to focus on a persona)
  • Identify the role of participation (e.g., account holder, partners, families); if children are involved, consider how to motivate them to collaborate and what information would be useful/valuable to provide
  • Define concept scalability (e.g., in-person to digital; versatility of use from individual to collaborative)
  • Be mindful of futurecasting trends (e.g., physical or digital interface)

Our team plans to address these suggestions and other factors prior to our client site visit next week.

On Tuesday, we met with our professor to discuss next steps, which align with the presentation comments. The team will continue to explore how to attract customers to interact with our tool and provide information (e.g., timelines, feedback loops). We began to wonder what the personality of our interface might be, because that will aid us in selecting an appropriate typeface and a color set; essentially, it will define our overall concept aesthetic and form.

We’re looking at developing a tone that is inviting, friendly, and personal; we’d like the voice to sound knowledgeable and capable. The conversation archetype? Trusted guide.

In addition, we will begin to weave more content into our tool, filling in gaps that currently exist. To accomplish this, we will participate in a “bodystorming” activity, where one team member will act as the interface and another as a customer; the third teammate will record instances that require improvement.

Today, we went to the client site for an informal discussion and question/answer session to aid us in developing and flushing out our concept. We learned the following:

  • Our client has three branches of financial advisors (FAs): Mass Market, Wealth Management, ADFA
  • FAs are paired with customers based on referral and/or geographic location
  • FAs typically speak with clients once a year for review
  • FAs focus on customer accumulation and dispersement asset allocation
  • Customers generally seek FAs to assist with planning long-term goals (e.g., saving for retirement or children’s college education)
  • If there’s no customer goal, there’s no need for an FA; FAs try to assist customers in making retirement and legacy planning their end goal
  • FAs have a consultative dialogue with customers; FAs prompt customers to define their own goals; if necessary, FAs encourage customers to consider alternatives that are more realistic or beneficial
  • FAs showcase goal performance; they currently present customers with the percent of their goal already completed and compare that percentage with the previous year’s
  • FAs do not encourage customers to seek third-party/independent assistance
  • It may be necessary for customers to speak with a personal accountant about complex taxes, especially during the college planning process; if student aid is being considered by customers, they are suggested to contact the specific university their children are interested in
  • With regard to college planning, FAs verify customers have reviewed the 529 and licensed-by-state tuition and pre-paid tuition plans
  • eMoney software is utilized by our client

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Gilly and Kate have fun discussing the notes from our client meeting

After our client visit, we were eager to start building out our project. We got some inspiration from other banking sites to inspire the look, feel, and tone we were going for.

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Inspiration from other online banking tools

During our team meeting, we discussed what content would be vital in supporting our presentation and how we might clearly demonstrate the value of our collaborative tool. We also mapped important milestones in the college saving process, and researched tips and FAQs relevant to saving for college. Below are some of the key components we would like to include:


  • Opening a 529 account
  • Deciding on how much to invest annually with FA
  • Figuring out how much an investment is worth
  • Setting an automatic deposit into a 529 plan
  • Making a one time deposit
  • Depicting a child’s progress through school
  • Reassessing the amount needed for college
  • Acknowledging progress via percent of the goal completed
  • Completing the annual 529 tax form


Other Tips

  • Know your plans (529, Roth IRA, FAFSA)
  • Select and open the best account option for your family
    (e.g., PrePaid 529)
  • Keep up to date with changing regulations related to college
  • Maintain open communication with your child on their interests
  • Contact your financial advisor to: learn about best saving and management practices; discuss updates, changes, and new resources; and review your progress

Lo-fi prototype

After reviewing the content, we began working on a low-fidelity paper prototype. We wanted to verify that the interactions we were focusing on were linked to the learning theories that we discussed in class. As a team, we decided to focus on the “Long-Term Goal” and “Collaboration” aspects of our tool. Below is our mapping of learning theories and interactions:

Linking Interactions with Learning Theory


  • Pre-assessment to gauge customers prior knowledge/experience of saving for goals and customizing feedback, scaffolding, and services based on information provided


  • Feedback on spending patterns and scaffolded suggestions (e.g., linking spending patterns to long term goals)
  • Connection between short-term and long-term is made explicit via viewing capability of past spending patterns
  • Potential nudges on their phone, when spending looks unusual or if their saving (e.g., this month) is above average


  • The resources tab provides a way for users to practice setting goals and seeing how their goals fit within their long-term plan. What do they need to adjust? Are they being realistic?
  • Resources help them develop the cognitive knowledge of different tools/resources and assists them in understanding complex information (e.g., regarding 529 accounts)

Long-Term Goal

  • A progress monitor and badges provide a way for users to become and remain extrinsically engaged and motivated.
  • The steps toward reaching and accomplishing a goal is a scaffolded path tailored for the customer (based on the account holder’s pre-assessment, information provided throughout the process, changes made to settings, and via recommendation of the financial advisor). No more than 3 steps will be given to a customer at a given time.


  • Customer are may become intrinsically engaged in a task if they are motivated and held accountable to reach their goal by family members/friends.
  • Within this feature, collaborators can send comments and make suggestions on a common goal.

Our next step? Wire framing the interactions for long-term goals and collaboration.

After receiving some feedback from our professor on the interactions we prototyped, our team met to further develop the goal-planning concept. We chose to demonstrate the use of our tool, Aspire, in three ways:

Video demonstrating the change over time
  1. Progress (change over time): Customers can view their progress and overall goal; this fosters motivation in achieving a long-term goal.
  2. Learn (scaffold; context, challenge, activity, and feedback): This feature is especially useful to customers who are new to or have difficulty with managing and saving for long-term goals. A long-term goal, such as saving for college, is broken down into small, actionable tasks. These tasks are inputted by the system and are based on the account holder’s pre-assessment, information provided throughout the process, changes made to settings, and via recommendation of the financial advisor.
  3. Collaboration (six facets of understanding; “magic circle”): Our online environment allows families to discuss their thoughts and opinions and learn from each other. The interaction among family members and other relations sustains engagement throughout the management and saving process.

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Thanks from Team Boggle!

Our team is so grateful for the opportunity to work with PNC this semester. We worked until the last minute on the project, and are pleased with the outcome. Many of the individuals at the presentation seemed interested in our concept: an environment and tool that supports family collaboration. We look forward to learning how this idea might be incorporated in the PNC experience.

LXD Team Boggle

Our design thoughts and process for Learner Experience…

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