Ash Montes

Monzo Digital Bank

Saving money with new features for the Monzo app


Saving money with new features for the Monzo app

Client: Monzo (self-started)
Roles: User Research, UX Design, Interaction Design, User Testing  
Tools: Sketch, Photoshop, InVision, Flinto, UserTesting, Typeform, UsabilityHub
Duration: 4 weeks
August 2017


Monzo is a smartphone-only bank appealing to young adults who want an alternative to the traditional banking of the past. Simple and easy to use, Monzo operates today with a pre-paid card and a modern mobile application with features focusing on expense tracking and budget-creation. They are also working towards new features to expand the users’ ability to better manage their personal finances.


Design the creation of virtual savings accounts and an improved Visual Analysis of spending, both embedded within the current Monzo app. It is vital to convert complex financial data into meaningful or actionable information.



The process I followed is the Double Diamond, as it provides guidance and clarity, and evokes the principles behind IDEO’s human-centred design.



Listening to Users

Phase 1: Discover

Identifying user preferences and pain points via secondary and primary research

To provide context and a sense of the bigger picture, the starting point was literature review on millennials and money management. Then I followed it up with a competitive analysis of challenger banks and fintech apps to determine blue ocean opportunities and understand what is the Monzo differentiator compared to the competition.


The next step was to make sure the users’ voice was heard. Since Monzo has a forum with an active online community, there was plenty of information on common issues / proposals for improvements and I was also able to engage with Monzo users to investigate their pain points. This was done first through a survey and then expanded afterwards with one-on-one interviews.

At this stage, it made sense to recruit and interview millenials who are not familiar with Monzo - after all, the bank caters to existing customers but also continues to attract new users and expand their numbers. What are the general expectations from someone before joining a digital bank?

I wish the bank was my partner, trying
to help me with saving money
— Interview Participant

Managing your wallet fitness

Phase 2: Define

Analyzing research findings to define design problems and challenges

The interview and survey findings were very close to insights uncovered from the secondary research:

  • People see banking as a chore and generally lack confidence in the banking system
  • People feel they know enough for day-to-day decisions but are not well-informed to make long-term financial decisions
  • When it comes to mobile banking, people are used to speed and flexibility and easily complain about technology and processes being obtuse or taking too long
  • On the subject of savings, Monzo users report they rely on spreadsheets or other applications (Squirrel, Moneybox, YNAB)

These may not be entirely surprising but offer solid material as we're breaking down complex concepts and problems into smaller, easier-to-understand constituents. 

Time to develop personas, putting a face and personality to the users I'm designing for. 

Based on the research undertaken by Fjord/Accenture (leading to the Money Mindsets segmentation), two personas were outlined to represent the most common attitudes found with Monzo users.


The ‘how might we’ exercise also helps to narrow down the problem and give a sense of laser-focus when faced with design decisions moving forward:

How might we motivate users to cultivate healthy financial habits and encourage continued reliance of the app?

As a digital bank challenging traditional well-known banks, Monzo has to earn consumers’ trust by providing value and promoting habit-forming. Close attention has to be paid to the new features being added as there’s the risk of cluttering information and making the experience less intuitive.

Before jumping into designing, this is the opportunity to determine what features will need to be prioritised. Prioritization is best done through the lens of desirability (what is of the highest value for the user) and also viability (effort required and business considerations).
Since Monzo uses a Transparent Product Roadmap, we can see Virtual Saving Accounts is already a priority for the bank while In-Depth Visual Analysis is aligned with their strategic goal of leveraging the data collected to provide insights to the user.


Providing value, building trust

Phase 3: Design

Ideating potential solutions with sketches, wireframes, and hi-fidelity mockups


Here I had to determine where the new features would fit into the existing Monzo mobile sitemap, keeping in mind users expect simplicity and ease-of-use for which the Monzo design is known.

Taking a cue from Monzo's current information architecture, saving goals and virtual "money pots" are housed under the Account section while visual analysis is placed under the Spending section, a clear path starting with main functions and moving to the more complex/less required actions.


Time for some paper sketching, testing ideas, and quickly visualising the features before starting the digital versions in Sketch.


Since I knew the usability testing would be with people familiar with Monzo and used to a 'polished' experience, I moved to Sketch already aiming for a hi-fidelity prototype, in line with Monzo existing branding guidelines to create visual colours, style, and hierarchy.

I drafted a click-through prototype of my proposed design solutions using InVision. With a working prototype, I could test it to see if the new features worked smoothly and if there were any overlooked navigation issues.  Below is an excerpt from the "money pot" creation, a simple way to set money aside within the main Monzo account.


Keeping it simple

Phase 4: Test & Refine

Assumptions are put to the test with prototypes and usability testing


Two rounds of usability testing were conducted with 6 users representing the target group (4 of them current Monzo users). They were all asked to perform a number of tasks leading to the following  results:


Closing Thoughts

The idea for this independent project grew from my interest in fintech and the work done by the design team at Monzo. In the end, most of the work focused on two powerful features giving users an opportunity to closely monitor their financial health and take solid steps to save money. To best accomplish this, a lot of thought was put into the visualisation side—parsing financial data into easy-to-read, comprehensible graphs, charts, or other figures. Displaying financial information in a visual medium also allowed me to build on Monzo iconically simple UI and aim for an appealing aesthetic.
Through this project, I see a great opportunity for financial institutions to offer a more user-centric experience and I'm excited for the potential in it.