Gaining Financial Insights


The product

Adaptu, a personal financial management service, was started as an online community for users trying to make sense of their finances, and a set of financial management tools for use by individuals.

This is a sample of the games and contests I designed for Adaptu's community site.

When I joined  the company, it had already been become clear that users were far more interested in the tools than the community. 

To refocus the service to tool use, we decided to release a mobile app, and redesign the website. I acted as UX architect, working closely with the team to design the app's core workflow and site IA and visual design.  

For the app, I reasoned that it had to answer a pressing question in order for a user to pull our their phone, open it, and enter a password to use it. That question would have to be something they needed to answer in the moment. "Can I buy this and still stay on track with my financial goals?" seemed a logical choice. We partnered with an outside company to build the app, and released the first iteration for the iPhone. It was was voted one of Forbes' top ten financial innovations of 2012.  Watch a demo here

I redesigned the website, to simplify access to the user's tools, and our new, 3rd party advice content.


The success of our mobile app, and our growing web user base, were proving Adaptu's value to users, but we still needed a revenue model: our services were completely free. We began exploration of a new service: Adaptu+, a financial management product that would extend our tools to encompass health, insurance and retirement accounts. It would be purchased by companies, and offered as part of an employee's benefits package. 

I conducted discovery research with three sets of employees: new, mid- and late career. We learned what these groups had in common, where they differed, and what their dreams and frustrations around trying to manage money as salaried employees.

We tested prototypes, including a gamified financial health dashboard (which failed spectacularly).  We were more successful with a prototype for which I designed a of a sort of digital accordion folder (this was 2012 - skeuomorphic design was still popular). Users could hide or view data grouped by financial area, without being overwhelmed by too much information at once, and see it organized in a familiar interface. 

Users' introduction and quickstart guide to Adaptu+

The accordion interface tested well with user groups.

Sketches for a responsive design of the accordion pattern

With the alpha release almost ready to launch, we hit an obstacle we could not easily overcome: the backend provider of the account data Adaptu used no longer had access to data from several major credit card companies, meaning that many users would now only gain partial insight into their finances, hobbling our efforts to provide a complete financial picture for these users. This happened just at the time when our investors were facing their own financial challenges, and sadly,  the decision was made to shut Adaptu+'s doors.