By Bettina d'Ávila
On 13 Nov, 2016
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UX Analysis

This is a superficial UX analysis of Lendstar’s mobile app Group functionality. The objective of this analysis is to propose a solution to improve the usage of this feature.

This is a superficial UX analysis of Lendstar’s mobile app Group functionality. The objective of this analysis is to propose a solution to improve the usage of this feature.

1) What are your ideas for improvement to increase the usage?
In first instance I would ask for assistance from the software engineers and the Sales and Marketing departments to gain insight into the app’s numbers in order to understand data patterns and the rate of usage decrease. I would also find the places in which the users have difficulties using the app, and even look into any feedback provided by the users or diagnostics from the software side. Having done this, I would hope to better understand the reasons to the problem, and, thus, find a solution to it.

In order to propose such a solution, I immersed myself into the Lendstar app to gain first hand experience and understand the product as a whole. For this task, I decided to analyse in more depth the Group feature. I got started right away by creating a couple of groups to assist me with my house expenses, and realized that the app was exactly what I was looking for! I invited my two roommates to install the app so that we could get started with splitting our bills and travel expenses.

Creating a Group
At first I was slightly unsure of how the Groups worked and how I could set one up. As I am using the Android version, the bottom-right “plus” bubble did not give any indication to whether I could create a group through this route – especially because of its colour that differs to the rest of the interface. Additionally, the message section on this screen threw me off, and for a moment I thought I had clicked on another page. Without a clear option, I clicked on the yellow button, which then gave me three distinct options.

creating-a-group-1 creating-a-group-2

Unsure of what the other options were, I stuck with my objective and clicked on “Create group”. Once created, I proceeded to adding our household expenses and split them up between the three of us. Then, I uploaded a picture, added a description and invited my flatmates. This flow was smooth and intuitive, and my friends received the SMS invitation a few seconds later.

creating-a-group-3 creating-a-group-4

App installation
Although the invitation arrived quickly, my friends encountered difficulties with installing the app, because after clicking on the SMS message, they got a 404 Error page on their browsers. As I insisted they download the app, they logged into the Apple Store and downloaded it from there.

Group management
Once everybody was on board, we started using the app and testing its functionality.

managing-group-1

They struggled trying to add expenses, because the icon is located on the bottom-right hand side, which was not an intuitive choice for the iOS user, who was looking for the action button on the top right-hand corner of the screen. In Android, the icon stands amongst the other elements on the chat bar, which gives off the impression that it is part of this functionality.

When trying to pay off the amount owed, my flatmate had difficulties understanding how to proceed. The “split”details does not indicate who will receive the money, instead you are able to only see the amount that you have to receive or pay.

managing-group-3

Having felt frustrated with the outcome, she paid me in person, and said she would update the information on the group. However, we realised that it was not possible to add discounts or remove expenses, which represents a breaking point of this feature. I then realised that I was probably the only one that could do this because I had input the expenses, and also should be the one to confirm the payment. I tried this option, but it was not possible, which left me also confused about the app’s role management. The only available option was to send a chat message to remind me that she had paid, which ended up not fulfilling our initial expectations with the app.

managing-group-4

2) Provide a prototype for one of your ideas.
With my initial experience of the Group feature in mind, I decided to think about the ways in which I could tackle this issue. My suggestion is that the group can also be used to manage expenses on a long-term basis, in order to provide more flexibility to the app users that have different expectations and needs when using it. In my case, for example, I was looking for something that could manage our household expenses on a continuous level, not only for an isolated event. In this sense, I would like to propose some changes to the screens that are part of group management by focusing on the idea of splitting expenses.

Lendstar

Navigation
The “Activities” tab on the top navigation bar encompasses both Groups and chat messages. This is slightly confusing, especially when you have just downloaded the app and started using it. The welcome message that appears in the chat section made me question if I was on the right tab. In this sense, I would suggest splitting the Activities tab into Group and Chat (or Notifications).

Groups

Creating a Group screen
By clicking on “create group”, the user is taken to a screen when they can choose between four different categories. Design-wise the mixture of round and rectangle elements in addition to the excess of white space is very distracting. I propose that the cells are more unified, and the colours and icons are modified in order to create a visually appealing screen. Additionally, this idea of unity brought out by app’s visual identity is important to create consistency amongst the groups and the app as a whole.

Create Group

My Groups screen
For this important section, I propose to display the different categories separately. Each group that belongs to the same category will be displayed side-by-side, and scrollable horizontally. I decided to maintain the information displayed by each group thumbnail (name, description, number of members, and amount), but the cell will follow the same configuration as the group category screen. To provide a better use of colour, I decided to place the group image as a background, with the corresponding category colour as an overlay. If the group does not have a picture, the background will be filled by the flat colour of the corresponding category.

Managing Group 1 Managing Group 3

The inspiration for this display is meetup‘s new app design. I am an avid meetup user, and I was enthused by the way in which they presented their new design and the approach to optimizing their digital service through UI. Despite the different objectives of both services, a Lendstar group works in a similar fashion to a meetup event: a permanent group that is shared with other members, in which you can create different events that can be managed by different people in different roles.

With this in mind, I would like to propose two solutions to the issues I encountered when first using the app: first, always present the final balance of the split calculation at the bottom of the screen, despite any screen changes or the flow of the group activities; ii) expenses can be created and then are editable at any given time, which means that if any amount was paid in person, I can edit outstanding value on the app at a later date.

Additionally, I would like to propose new features to improve the app usage. In the future, we will be able to generate a lot of data based on the user’s activities, so, with this, we can create graphs (such as money spent in a certain period of time, or how much money was borrowed from a friend) that translate the group’s activities into visual elements, helping all members to better manage their resources. Another feature that could boost usage would be incorporating templates into the system, so that the expenses related to living, travelling and nights out can be quickly set up and better planned.

3) How would you go about testing it and come to the result if we should go ahead with that idea or not?
The experience I have concerning testing methods for mobile apps was carried out when I used to work as Web Designer in Brazil, where we commonly use A/B testing. Despite the differences between web and mobile devices, I believe that this is an optimal scenario for Lendstar, because we can compare the old vs. the new in a certain timeframe, which certainly cuts to the chase! In this method, app users are randomly bucketed into different segments, and each user is shown a different experience. Once the users have gone through the experiment, it is statistically possible to determine which app version leads to higher conversions.

According to The Design Sprint, a Google Venture methodology, the most effective way to prepare a prototype for user testing is the “fake it until you make it”. That means we don’t need to build a final product or even a live version of the app in order for users to test the product. In fact, that is the concept of testing – to get the right answers before we even invest time and money into building and launching a product. Thus, the improvements on the Lendstar Group feature do not have to be developed before testing it in order to know what’s best – it just has to look and feel real.

When it comes down to the “look and feel real”, I personally like the InvisionApp, which is an online tool for collaborative work and live prototypes. I work with Invision on a daily basis and the great advantage of it is that I am able to get the stakeholders and the development team involved in the design process. Additionally, you can add hotspots to your interface, creating clickable screens in order to export a story or scenario of your prototype.

I once took part in a user testing session as a user, and I only realized that they were using the InVision app as an interface after I had finished the testing! With this platform you are able to achieve the expected results for the app without having to implement a single line of code! With this approach, we not only save development time, but we also avoid technical constraints from testing an unstable product.

For more information on A/B testing for mobile apps, I highly recommend these articles:

15 A/B Testing tools for mobile apps
The Ultimate Guide
How to run bulletproof experiments
When NOT to A/B test your app

All in all, the values that I believe are at the core of a well rounded and user-friendly social platform – building collective memories, sharing experiences and transferring skills – are integrated into the Lendstar app, and the suggestions that I have made will further bring out the app’s potential to become a reference in social banking.

Thank you for stopping by! 🙂


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About me






I have 6 plus years of experience in Web Design, specializing in User Experience and User Interface. I have worked on a variety of projects including websites, web softwares and mobile apps for iOS and Android.

With a professional background in Graphic Design and a personal background in music and cultural project development, I enjoy exploring a range of professional opportunities involving new technologies and innovation for cultural and social empowerment.