Critical authorization issues and expense settlement problems in the current splitwise version, cause user frustration.
Have you been scammed before? I was, that too by my own friend, who scammed me of over a hundred dollars, by deleting expenses on this very app, and the worst was, due to some reason, I could not recover the deleted expense, shocked and clueless what to do, I took it upon myself to resolve the issue by redesigning the entire application, including finding a solution to this problem and redesigning the way I would love to use/ see the app.
To re-design splitwise for better verification UI and add extra features to it.
Figma, Illustrator, LucidChart, and Canva
1 month [Jan- Feb 2023]
The current version of Splitwise [an app to track bills and settle shared expenses between friends and roommates] is facing a critical problem with the valid authorization process between users, when splits [expenses] exceed a certain amount, due to failure to repay, furthermore, the other party is given the privilege to mark the expense 'settled', irrespective of whether that happening in real life. These challenges are causing significant frustration and inconvenience for the users of Splitwise who are in dire need of resolution.
I conducted my own user research by interviewing five candidates, who were students, fresh graduates, or working professionals and use Splitwise and came up with the following conclusions:
Not just for students, its audience also consisted of couples, roommates, travelers, and even event organizers
The most used app with Splitiwise was actually a social media/ communication app like WhatsApp, and not a banking /finance app, which further made me wonder, was it used for sending reminders and bill settlement nudges?
Average users spent most on rent splitting more than food and groceries, which I did not predict since I assumed that people spent equally on all bills
1. A UI to make sure that both parties are aware of and have verified that payment is settled indeed.
2. In-build expense and settlement tracker, to keep track of all splits, budget limits, and spends.
3. Users are allowed to send reminders and make settlements.
4. Option to set a transaction on recurring.
5. Simple UI to separate bills into categories such as [gas, wifi, etc]
Some other key insights that I found interesting were also that
have sent reminders to friends via message to settle split expenses
Said that there were times when expenses were deleted by friends or shared expense participants on Splitwise. Intentionally or otherwise
Said that they currently ensure that payments are verified and settled within the Splitwise app via message, calling friends, or sharing screenshots of the expense paid.
After knowing, who my target demographics were, I went ahead and found three distinct people, who are currently using the app, for different needs, to build my personas.
Location: Standford, MA
Interests: Hangout with friends.
Identify his over-spend and wasteful spend areas.
Forget to pay and receive on time.
1. Prefers to eat outside more often.
2. Loves to be on social media and hanging out with friends.
3. Manages finances from savings and pocket money.
Full time traveler
Location: Detroit, MI
Interests: Dogs, Driving, and new people.
To be able to pay bills to people on time while traveling.
Difficult to manage expenses and travel at the same time.
1. Believes in paying the split on time with friends whom she meets while traveling.
2. Has trust issues with people, when it comes to money.
3. Sole budget manager in the family.
Location: Boston, MA
Interests: Coding, football, and cooking.
To be able to split bills with wife as a couple.
Forgets to keep track of expenses due to work life.
1. Have a tendency to misplace bills.
2. Believes in splitting expenses of the house with wife.
3. prefers clearing bills, by the end of every month.
To elaborate on user personas and understand their needs and environment, I chose an empathy map as one of my research methods
Need to settle bills with friends by end of evey month
Needs a reliable way to get back his money on time
Any better way to sort out the bills?
Annoyance: Towards the lack of a fair and reliable system
Desperation: In dire need of a resolution to these problems
Frustration: Due to the failure of the authorization and unresolved expenses.
Relies heavily on Splitwise to manage and split expenses with friends
"I need solutions to splitting as well tracking my personal expenses"
"I rely on Splitwise to track bills and expenses"
Looks for alternative solutions to send reminders to friends for bills
Not know what to do when friend deleted expense without his knowledge
"I thinks it unethical to not settle bills on time"
Authorization Issues: Splitwise's flawed authorization for large expenses frustrates users.
Oversized Expenses: Splitwise struggles with big expenses, causing inconvenience and demanding a fix.
Unauthorized Settling: Users are unhappy with one-sided expense settlements, eroding trust.
User Frustration: Splitwise needs quick fixes for a smoother user experience.
Financial and Social Strain: Urgent action is needed to resolve authorization and settlement problems causing strain.
Enhance User Experience: Improve Splitwise's authorization process to provide users with a smoother experience, reducing frustration.
Build Trust: Ensure accurate expense settlement to foster trust among users, strengthening relationships.
Attract New Users: Resolving these issues makes Splitwise more appealing, driving growth.
Boost Retention: Addressing pain points can improve user retention and app longevity.
Stand Out: Solving these problems sets Splitwise apart from competitors.
Positive Reputation: Satisfied users lead to recommendations and a strong brand reputation.
After gathering research on the problem and the user-facing it, it was time to sketch what I wanted to achieve from this redesigning by first drafting the product objectives, that needed to be addressed while sketching
Both the parties should be able to verify the settlement done between them.
Simpler and user friendly UI to split and manage expenses.
Personal expense track in group-
User should be able to keep track of their individual and overall expenses in group expenses.
Individual transaction settlement and its history-
Users should be able to settle indiviual transaction and see history of it.
Only the authorized person can edit or delete the split in the group, others can just mark it void.
Recurring expense option-
The user should be able to mark and see the history of a recurring expense.
To understand the outcomes and actions of what users want to achieve at each step of the flow, I designed the following user flow, in the LucidChart tool.
Finally, to put the flows into action, I sketched the basic wireframes of the application, in Balsamiq too, highlighting how the final product will look like.
For Prototyping, I used Figma, wherein I created components, designed animations, and used plugins like Charts, and material design icons.
The receiver should get a notification for verifying the settlement between them and the sender
A simple UI, where all expenses and bills are categorized as icons to filter and see all splits in that category.
Users should be able to see their budget, expenses, and similar important info in the app to keep track of it
Users can see all settlements, they made previously in the settlement history section.
Users cannot edit or delete a transaction they do not own, instead, they can mark it 'void', once everyone in the group does that, only then can it be deleted.
Users can mark any expense as 'recurring' through which it is automatically updated on that date of every month in the app.
After I created my final prototype, I conducted usability testing with the same participants.
1. Consider adding more information on the 'void this transaction' option.
2. When navigating through transactions, showcase all the people, who voided it.
3. Set up a reward-like system, if the user stays within the budget, throughout the month.
4. Set up a service or a chatbot, like a system, to help users, who might get confused while using the system.
5. When viewing an expense in the tracker, provide the option to see more details of expenses of that particular category.
Adding funds directly to the account to automatically verify and clear the split.
Using AI to split the bills, into categories.
Sending reminders of recurring bills prior to the date, for better financial planning.
Using blockchain to verify a new user.
Option to set up "family budget" to set expense limit.