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Life Plan

COMPANY

Bank of America

ROLE

Project Lead

Designer

Researcher

SUMMARY

I lead research and strategy for the iterative future design of Bank of America's first financial planning consumer app, providing a prioritized solution map and benchmarking the program against competitors and the comparative market.

Project Goals

PROBLEM STATEMENT

User testing of the core functionalities and early pilot showed Life Plan was missing the mark, but BofA didn't know exactly where or how – just that it lacked the edge over competitors. The tool also wasn't meeting users' expectations in several areas.  We wanted to identify where the program was falling short, triage accordingly, and determine where Life Plan could further a market advantage.

1

Determine users' overarching expectations

3

Ideate solutions that could integrate into the existing experience

2

Benchmark Life Plan against the market

4

Create an experience roadmap to reshape the program's path

Selection Process

40 PROGRAMS

Evaluations primarily focused on financial competitors and programs with aspects of self-governance, education, tracking, therapy and behavior modification.  

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26 COMPETITIVE

  • Selection of top financial problems involving investing, saving or financial planning

  • Selection of the overall most downloaded apps from 2018 - present in the Financial category

  • New-to-market financial apps receiving visibility through heavy marketing

14 COMPARATIVE

  • Selection of top rated and most overall downloaded apps from 2018 - present involving planning, goal setting, budgeting or tracking

  • New-to-market apps receiving visibility through heavy marketing with the same themes

InVision Freehand board of evaluations in progress

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Evaluation Process

TEAM

I led a contributing team of six members of XD and the research lab through evaluating the programs as users or conducting interviews with volunteers.  Screenshots and a templated spreadsheet were shared in bi-weekly Freehand meetings to discuss and synthesize findings while metrics and data were also collected for benchmarking. 

QUANTITATIVE

To create data that could be successfully synthesized off observation and minimize potential drift across evaluations, I created an Excel template with drop down choice selections for the team to evaluate through.

75 Features and components were evaluated based off the Life Plan features and functions, active and planned, and additional features around discovery, budgeting, spending, tracking and planning.

QUALITATIVE

Experience summaries, entry points, visual and content descriptions were collected. We archived individual evaluations of each program but used a Freehand board to be able to see all of the visuals at once and look across experiences.

The team walked through the programs off of call outs and screenshots to collect multiple perspectives through a variety of lenses.

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Capital One Money Coaching Customer Journey

SELECT IN-PERSON EVALUATIONS

I evaluated programs that had offerings in-person first hand as a user, and considered the physical environment as well as compatibility with the digital components.

Group discussion synthesis and grouping with benchmarking data

Findings

BENCHMARKING

Areas where Life Plan fell outside the majority of the market were examined to determine if they were a deficit of the program or potential value over competitors as well as if the area was a viable consideration that served Life Plan's user needs.

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Matrix for determining priorities for different scopes

SYNTHESIS

We used the Rose Bud Thorn method with virtual stickies during walkthroughs to prepare our discussions and observations during walkthroughs for better synthesis and consumption.  At the end of our 40 evaluations, these stickies were grouped and summarized into over-arching Major Themes.

Engagement model mapping of findings

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Prioritization

MATRIX

Rose Bud Thorn stickies from synthesis were summarized and prioritized against the effort and user impact.

"Effort" included potential cost of technical build as well as changes that would alter the overall direction of Life Plan. "User Impact" addressed the value of the features to the user as well as potential short or long term benefits to their financial wellness.

MAPPING

I plotted the prioritized themes where Life Plan was outside the market across the existing experience to see where insights could be integrated.  I also included the "High Impact + High Effort" lane for consideration in long term strategy for the program.

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New engagement model

Engagement Model Mapping

FUTURE ROADMAP FOR VALIDATION

Screens, examples and details for content, copy or functionality, integrated into the existing experience to show how Life Plan could evolve to better fit users' expectations, needs and desires.  Low level wire framing and examples included for net new screens.

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Takeaways

RESULTS

The core research was leveraged across XD portfolios and touched multiple programs and projects.  The work also lead to a completely new program being funded that originated in the gaps we discovered in financial tools on the market and users' needs. 

NEXT STEPS

Iterative design, prototyping, user testing, validation, more iterative design and testing, incremental implementation, further research, user feedback, continued reevaluations...

LEARNINGS

Keeping the work as collaborative as possible not only enhanced the viewpoints and coverage, but increased its reach and impact. As many teams that used this research, there were also a number of previous user testing or evaluations that informed this work.

NEXT TIME

The project was restricted by a pending release, unknown funding and future scope, and a hard timeline for recommendations.  I would have loved to have held more ideation workshops and created blue sky designs with more stakeholder participation and in-depth user interviews.

ATM

Bank of America