How a concept help improving the final design

Because of the NDA of the works I couldn’t show the identity of the client. This article’s purpose is to show you how important is a design concept for designers, especially Product designers.

We were approached by a client in Finance industry who wished to improve their customer application experience, the app helps the customer managing their loans, keep tracks of payment, remind due date etc. Client is a finance company that offer credit loans.The requirements were to make the app more supportive, more human, less numerical feelings in order to help customers feel that it’s not a pain to borrow money and to pay each month, in a smarter and more confident way.
Seems like a good intention from client at the beginning.

Understanding and Ideation

We then went through a couple of meetings with the client to align with client’s real needs and understand their problems. We also conduct a small landscape analysis and market research, then do an expert review (app audit) to the current app.
After all the necessary steps needed to understand problems, analyze market, competitors and get to know customers’ pain points and motivation, we listed down some important informations that the app must have:

  • Current loan
  • Amount remaining
  • Next due date
  • Next settlement
  • Repay action

Based on the user research, we explore the opportunities that the app should be:

  • Personalized to customers
  • Better communicate with customers
  • Understand customers more
  • Better visualize the complex finance problems to customers.

We quickly came up with some ideas and start exploring a quick design below:
A very simple and straightforward idea which illustrates how much left for the current loan, the due date and a strong CTA to help customer easily pay the loan:

We also thought about the application process:

Though the design is considered as cleaned, modern and serve enough information to customers, we still feel it lacks of something unique, and not really satisfied as:

  • Personalized to customers
  • Better communicate with customers
  • Understand customers more
  • Better visualize the complex finance problems to customers.

I and my team sat back and start thinking what we have not considered carefully enough, and we realized that we did not think about a design concept as first. So we brainstormed again, tried different moodboard and finally came to a concept:

A conversational finance assistant

What we tried to accomplish is an app that can tell the customers where are they in the process, more than that, what they should do, how they should do to not only pay their debt, but better solve their financial problems, at each stage in the process. So, the idea now would be something like this:

  • When customer is at the first month of their loan, app should guide customers on payment methods, their payment details, setup their profiles
  • Then when customer is at the middle of their terms, app helps them to track their payment records, provides tips for better financial management etc.
  • At the last term, the app would provide the next steps, also link with some cross-sell program.

We wanted to continue on improving the personalization of the app to the next level, so the concept can be:

A personal finance assistant

To do that, we add a character to the design by using visual illustration, something like this:

And finally, to make this illustration more personal, we introduce the character from the beginning when customer register, please note that all the illustration here are for demo purpose and it was not our final visual