CASE STUDY
 

Changewell by 2100Inc.

Research Audit // Competitive Analysis // User Interviews // Personas // User Interviews // Rapid Prototyping // A/B Testing // Interaction Design // Product Design


ios-investing-app-mockup
 

Working with an startup called 2100Inc., our team worked to prototype, test, and evaluate a mobile application concept aimed at helping people use their capital as a force for good. We created deliverables including user personas, native app feature concepts, and a high fidelity lead generation page that would serve to engage potential users. Using these materials, we were able to collect insights around what value an eventual product could (and should) bring to users.


CLient

2100Inc. was founded by Justin Kaster, a former investment banker interested in creating a product that disrupts the investing system by helping people incorporate their social values into their financial activities. Justin came to us with the concept of bringing micro-investing and impact-investing together in an MVO targeting an untapped market of motivated, socially-conscious millennial investors.

Team

The Changewell team is myself, Ellen Dy, Brian Austin, and Greg Carlson. Each of us brought different strengths and perspectives to the project. For my part, I acted as project manager, participated in and monitored several user interviews, worked with my team to synthesize data, and led the visual design for wireframing and high fidelity prototypes.


Approach

We were fortunate in that our client had a solid foundation of research on which he had built his current product concept. Using primarily paper prototypes and user interviews, Justin had learned a great deal about users thoughts and feelings towards investing, which helped him land on the idea of creating an application that would allow people to invest automatically from their phone into mutual funds fully vetted to meet Environmental, Social And Governance Criteria standards.

While we had a vague idea about both the product concept and our potential users, there was much work to be done around honing in on a first adopter persona and figuring out what an MVO might look like. We dove into the financial world, learning as much as we could about micro-investing, impact-investing, and our probable user group: millenials.

Micro-Investing

allows would-be-investors with little starting capital to begin investing small but frequent amounts of money to build wealth over a period of time. (source)

Impact Investing

refers to investments "made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return". (source)

Millennials

are known to to be loyal and socially-minded when it comes to the companies they support. They are also optimistic, open-minded, and want to be in control of their decisions around finance. (source)

We spent time getting to know users and created possible personas including the early adopter, the new investor, and the everyday investor.


Competitive RESEARCH & SURVEYS

The financial landscape is vast, complicated, and currently undergoing major change. With investment apps popping up all the time, we were able to conduct comprehensive competitive research to learn about what users want and expect out of investment products.

Grow

Stash

Ellevest

Aspiration

Digit

Acorns

 

Betterment

Motif

Swell

Not only did we gather insights about offerings, but we were able to discover design patterns, onboarding processes, and feedback loops that worked well for potential users. An important point that many of these products shared was a focus on communicating a specific and unique value to potential users. Easy of use, credibility, and a low barrier to entry were all key takeaways from this research.


User Interviews & Participatory Design

We began our user research by conducting user interviews with paper prototypes. This allowed us to give our users a frame of reference about the product, while keeping visual design aspects out of the discussion. We learned a few key insights that served to inform our next prototype iteration:

  • desire for personalization + customization
  • need for trust-building (people, data, research)
  • ease and access key to reaching would-be investors
  • dispel "too good to be true" myth
 

Our next round of testing focused on language and trust-building. We prepared various content blocks and then interviewed users while they reviewed, sorted, and discussed their choices. Insights gained from this round of testing helped us learn that users valued simplicity in language, clear ties to local impact, and straightforward examples of money and financial growth.

 

Wireframes & Feature Concepting

Based on our competitor research, user interviews, and insights, we mocked up potential features for the actual product. We called this application Changewell, a nod to both the micro and impact sides of investing. Our users responded positively to the ease of use, tangibility, and immediacy of being able to control aspects of their investment account from their phone, confirming the decision to create a mobile application. The goal for creating these features was to help us discover what would change an investing experience from being an overwhelming, necessary evil, to something simple, easy, and valuable for our users.

 
 

Using design patterns found in other financial apps and user feedback, the application offers users a simple look at their investment account. To do this, we focused on using plain language, lowering the stakes for someone to get started, and offer as much customization and control as possible. We also heard from users that compelling stories were they best way they could truly engage with the social value aspect of investing. We included a feature that describes exactly where their money is invested and how those companies were actively creating impact.

 
 

As with any investment platform, numbers and monitoring real time data is crucial. Users would be able to continuously customize what social causes they wish to incorporate into their account and select or change their risk tolerance. By limiting the number of choices, users can feel confident that they are making an informed decision while incorporating their own beliefs and goals.

As with any native application, users want complete control over their profile and are concerned about what information they hand over. Many users expressed concern at having an app automatically pull money from their account, while other appreciated that they could simply set it and forget it. Giving users both options offers an additional level of control.

 

Lead Generation Website

Users told us they are wary about disclosing personal and financial information, particularly online. We prototyped a responsive lead generation page that would serve to help users learn about and trust the product. To do this, we gathered feedback to prototype what content they found valuable, what language resonated with them, and what information they would need to take action. The landing page conveys the how the product works, hard data about why it works, what makes the application credible and trustworthy, as well as build excitement as the product is launched.

 

This responsive website has the challenge of telling the user quickly what the product is all about. Workshopping messaging with users helped us hone in on a positive, conversational voice. In helping users discover and learn about the application, this page offers a succinct description of how it works, examples of customization, and what the application will look like and do. Next, data provides support for the product, and users we talked to said they wanted to know about the people behind the product in order to build trust. To take action, potential users could either sign up for a simple launch notification, or they could engage further my beginning their investment profile.

 

Next Steps

User Interviews & Journey

Getting feedback regarding the app feature screens is crucially important for the next step of building out interaction. From the limited screens created, new rounds of user interviews would help us understand what is missing and how well users are understanding what the application is doing for them. We could also learn more about their entry into such an application and map out the user journey.

A/B Testing

For the lead generation page, testing with a larger sample size in the form of A/B testing would be necessary to determine how effective our messaging is and how user perceptions change as words or images change. Further increasing the fidelity would help us see whether or not users actually take action.

Content Strategy

Finally, we would want to work with a content strategist to further define Changewell's voice in order to integrate compelling content more deeply into both the lead generation website and the native app itself. This may include things like video stories, features on local impact, and educational resources aimed at improving financial literacy.