Our mock client Venmo - a social payment app - wanted to give users the ability to donate to causes they care about, but were reluctant to make majors changes to the platform. Charities needed a simple way to engage with donors but struggled to convey credibility through a social payment app. We discovered that by validating the authenticity of charities we could beneficially expand the number of users that Venmo connects with the participating charities.
We used an agile framework to communicate as we worked together through a ten-day sprint. As a team of four designers, we conducted interviews, developed insights, mapped the user journey, and created affinity maps. I led the ideation, wire framing, and creation of high-fidelity mockups, and designed the usability testing portions of the project.
The clear majority of Venmo users were millennials using Venmo to settle small balances between friends. Additionally, most millennials who had donated to charities did so from mobile platforms. They learned about those charities via their peers.(Millenial Giving). So a social payment application between friends such as Venmo was primed to help make the donation connection.(Generational Giving Statistics)(Crowdfunding Industry Statistics)
We wanted to understand the current ecosystems surrounding Venmo, charitable organizations, and charitable giving. We engaged several research channels: We did a competitive market analysis, an analysis of other charitable donation platforms, and a review of companies that are rating and assigning credibility to charitable organizations. We interviewed Venmo users, charitable donors, and charitable organizations, to gain insights about their process of spending and collecting money.
We learned that Venmo users are social spenders who occasionally spend or transfer money between friends in small amounts, usually under $300. We believed that charities could expand their network and leverage the social nature of Venmo by tapping into the intimate relationships that connect most users.
We looked at other crowdfunding platforms to understand who is best in class. We saw that companies like Kickstarter and GoFundMe (the two largest crowdfunding platforms) are using social networks to attract people to their site. Additionally we saw that the social nature of these sites helps to entice and engage a larger user base.
We observed that trust and credibility were important factors when users were deciding which charities to donate to. Companies like Charity navigator and the Better Business Bureau rate charities and assign credibility based on the charitable organizations effectiveness.
We discovered there was no overlap between Venmo users and charitable organizations using Venmo as a platform to collect funds.
Sean's user flow represented a common theme of user happiness within the app – he liked the simple, clean interface and was comfortable with Venmo’s functionalities. Later, we knew it would be important to keep Venmo’s basic flow and feel, even as we added features.
For Shannon, donating means knowing what the cause is that she is supporting, knowing where her money will go, and knowing how she will affect change.
For Collaboraction – a nonprofit theater company – figuring out how to extend the viewer/donor’s experience is their biggest goal. In the donation world, making sure donors are engaged after their first donation is critical to future funding success.
By comparing the Venmo experience with the donation experience, we found similarities in how people enter, engage, and exit the process. We concluded that Venmo could benefit from stronger engagement on the front end – at the “entice” stage – and charities could benefit from stronger engagement on the back end – at the “extend” stage.
We discovered that Venmo users seek convenience, value trust, and generally enjoy the Venmo experience.
We found that traditional donors find many barriers to action in the donation process. Donors were encouraged to donate when there was a level of transparency about the organization they were donating to and when they were emotionally tied to the cause or could empathize with the need.
In our interviews, charitable organizations were seeking to deepen relationships with new donors in particular. These organizations wanted to expand through their already-built social networks, and sought new opportunities for engagement around those networks.
We mined our affinity maps, user flows, and insights to see where there were opportunities. We knew Venmo users were happy with the current Venmo experience so maintaining consistency was key.
Potential donors are enticed into the donation process by using the same flow as regular Venmo users. Donors have an opportunity to feel like they are affecting change, and sharing that experience with their friends and fellow users.
Setting up a charity account needs to be as simple as setting up a personal account. Charities can create their own causes based on their current fundraising effort. They can share their cause or account information to social media or prompt donors in person to donate via the Venmo app.
To maintain consistency with the current Venmo layout, our paper prototypes needed to mimic the layout exactly. The paper sketches helped us understand the features Venmo was already using, but did not help us in testing because of the specificity of the icons we were trying to implement. We started to realize that making small tweaks with a big impact was going to be difficult.
Using our low fidelity wireframes, we could test our riskiest assumptions about icons, microinteractions, and feedback for the user. We learned that it was difficult to search for charities within Venmo, so we brought the “search charities” functionality to the top of the menu.
The changes made to Venmo needed to be small tweaks with a big impact. Developing a new set of icons that stayed consistent with the Venmo model was crucial to setting an appropriate tone.
We did our first round of wireframe tests with 6 people. We tested within two scenarios. One scenario was for regular Venmo users to donate to their favorite charity, the Red Cross. The second scenario was with charitable organization employees acting as the Red Cross to set up a cause to raise money for a recent tsunami.
Our usability tests helped us solve user flow issues and provided guidance on how to remove obstacles. We struggled with a two-flow solution (when testing with charities and testing with Venmo users), and learned that if we are going to test two users flows at the same time, we needed to separate those flows and screens.
After completing the ten-day sprint we took our prototype over to the Delta Institute – a sustainability nonprofit – to validate our assumptions further. We allowed charity organizers to play around with the prototype. We got feedback that showed a second design sprint was needed. The charity organizers wanted the ability to switch easily from their own personal account to a charity account they are managing. An account-switching feature would reduce barriers for the charitable organizations. We took our feedback and developed a list of additional features that would reduce barriers, increase trust, and facilitate relationships.
During a wrap up meeting we questioned how we could we improve our product.
After the Venmo project, I was left a greater understanding of the UX process and where I could grow.