Case study: Strands Finance / MoneyStrands

Creative Director2008-2013

Introduction

I started working with Strands in early 2008 when they had just received their series B funding of 49 million dollars. They had promised to deliver Europes first personal financial management (PFM) tool and we did not even have a prototype or a single line of code.

We had less than a year to design, build and release a working version which would be integrated into BBVA's online banking platform. After extraordinary efforts by extraordinary people, the product was released to the public in late 2008 as BBVA Tú Cuentas (You Count For Us). Read the Forrester report.

The product then went on to be MoneyStrands which was launched in late March 2009 as a consumer-facing web and mobile application.

Problem statement

User (customer)

The user does not have the relevant information to make informed financial decisions.

 

Institution (Banks)

Online banking engagement is limited.

Institution wanted to

  • Increase customer engagement
  • Recommend appropriate services (increase services adoption)
  • Educate the user in personal financial best practices

Process

Strategy

Method

  • Client workshops
  • Client interviews

Artifacts

  • Vision statement
  • Product roadmap
  • Success Metrics
  • Competitive Analysis Reports

During the Strategy stage I conducted client workshops and interviews with key stakeholders and channel managers in BBVA's offices in Madrid and Strands offices in Barcelona. In those workshops we came together to define the projects vision statement, a draft of the product roadmap and what will define success for the project (KPIs).

Research

Method

  • Interviews with online banking users
  • Banking engagement data

Artifacts

  • Question/answer cards
  • Assumptions by data analysists
  • Guide on personal finance best practices

During the research stage I lead a series of interviewers with online banking users across Europe. Key financial advisors were interviewed to obtain a set of guiding paths which users should be focusing on in the short and long-term.

Analysis

Method

  • UX Workshops

Artifacts

  • Infinity map (goals)
  • Personas
  • Experience maps
  • Requirements documents
  • User-task matrices
  • User goals matrices

I lead several series of workshops designed to breakdown the information. Focus was given to seporation into themes, groups, connetions, paths and current systems the users were using in their daily lives.

Design

Method

  • Brainstorming (Ideation)
  • Lean UX workshops (Agile focused)
  • UI design studios
  • Visual design studios

Artifacts

  • Sketches
  • Users stories
  • Content architecture
  • Wireframes (Low fidelity / high fidelity)
  • Flow diagrams
  • Prototyping
  • System diagrams
  • Style guide (HTML/CSS components)

I lead a large number of innovation workshops, brainstorming ideation and design studios

Evaluation

Method

  • Usability testing
  • KPI analysis
  • Engagement data

Artifacts

  • Usability report
  • Data summary report

Prototyping / Development / QA

Method

  • Manage requirements implementation

Teams and roles set-up

  • 7 UI and Graphical designers
  • 15 front-end developers
  • 18 back-end developers
  • 4 Database architects
  • 5 Mobile developers
  • Managing teams remotely in: Portland (USA), Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza and Barcelona

The company follows the agile methodology with sprints. Care was taken to combine UX methodologies like Lean and merged that into the agile development lifecycle.

Screenshots

Personal Financial Management - Widget based dashboard

Tool for setting budgets on catagorized spending

Tool for setting budgets on unspent money

Tool for setting budgets on catagorized spending

Tool for showing actual spending and income over a calendar style output, alongside expected spending and income deduced from historical behaviour.

Tool for showing actual spending and income, alongside expected spending and income deduced from historic behaviour.

Tool to compare users income and spending inline with socially acuired data.

Tool to calculate the users networth.

Tool to show planned spending.

Involvement

Creative Director, UX lead, Graphical design lead on all products.

In the 5 years which I worked at Strands, we redesigned and integrated the personal financial management (PFM) software into some of the largest banks on the planet. These included: BBVA, ING, Barclays, PostFinance, BMO, Deutsche Bank and Hello Bank. The dedicated team continues to move forward with innovation and is always leading the way in financial innovation.

From 2008-2013 I had the privaledge to lead the company with all UX and design matters. I managed teams in offices around the world and we pushed the bounderies on what was possible. I made hundreds of wireframes, prototypes, high-fidelity mockups, user research studies, usability studies. I lead hundreds of ideation workshops, brainstorms, design studios and infinity map workshops. Thousands of Postit notes and hundreds of whiteboard markers. I wrote thousands of lines of CSS, HTML and Java. Built several award winning marketing websites and met some of the most amazing developers in Barcelona.