In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic made people realise a number of things from family mattering more than ever all the way to the way people will react during toilet paper shortages. One key area however for me that stood out was that many individuals were not financially ready for instability in their pay or earnings, and not solely because they were living pay to pay check.

Introducing Stretched

Stretched is a mobile app that takes into consideration users mood/feeling about their financial situation and presents users with appropriate solutions. These solutions will be focused around improving the mental health levels of the user. Which was my initial thought when working on this fun side project, but in order to get there I needed to look around the problem more.

Discovering the problem

The idea was based on thinking what happens when an individual is more honest to themselves and others about how they were feeling about money. As this was relatively new terrain I needed to find out more. Firstly, by seeing what secondary data was out there I could utilise, mind.org.uk had a very useful article on the vicious cycle poor mental health and worrying about money had on people.

"When I find myself getting into debt problems, my mental health deteriorates, which means I am more likely to go on another spending spree and make debt problems worse. It all goes round in a vicious cycle."

Based on an early understanding of the problem at hand, I decided to run a survey with random sets of users whom would regard themselves to have had or currently have mental health issues that may or may not have derived from money issues.

In total in the space of 3 weeks managed to collect 10 useful user responses which pointed out the following:

- Use of money management apps adoption is low as many users find them difficult to understand and input correct information.
- There are always moments of feeling like your over a hurdle with costs then another pops up
- Financial literacy was a huge issue amongst many surveyed, as many platform dont take as much time to educate users on solutions outside of the platforms features.

Comparing existing solutions

What have other apps been able to achieve and where do they fail?

Trying out firsthand experiences with some of these applications enabled me to note down the things they had done right and connected with my current understanding of why they had done it, or how they had gone about it.

Creating personas

Finding new patterns

As part of the research, I asked people how they had tried to mange their money in the past online and offline.

This revealed two major categories of potential users:

The first-time novice user
Experienced users that had tried to make a change using apps and other software.

Based on these two potential users I decided to begin to map out red route flow of my apps potential features to ensure both needs would be met for the users who were new to the platform but also to users who had tried several solutions and may be quick to give up on a new solution posed to them.

Interesting discovery

During the research I identified that many users didn’t really grasp on the why they were saving/budget and often felt like it was pointless. For this solution to be effective I had to get them to purpose as early as possible. Setting up a budgets, declaring spending , monthly outgoings and more can be tedious and causes many users to drop off.

Design Objectives

Ease of use

The platform should work and offer results in very few taps, the moments talking about current situation should be brief and simple

Accuracy

The platform should work and offer results in very few taps, the moments talking about current situation should be brief and simple

Efficiency

The app should improve the the issues shown in competitor apps and have little room for error that deters users.EfficiencyThe app should efficiently save users time and accurately offer results


Design

Easy Onboarding

To keep in tune with other existing platforms as well as getting the users to success quicker, I developed an onboarding flow that required minimal information but would allow the interface to collect what was needed to offer a personalised solution.

Gathering key information

Unlike many existing solutions out there, one of the key features to this solution is the products approach to collecting user moods and feelings in order to identify the best solution to offer. Having tried and tested solutions out there, as well as user feedback I found that moods heavily affected money management, so with this added feature, users would be able to improve the accuracy of the information provided.

Clear results screen

Internal & External advice solutions