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Acorns Found Money
Orange County, Spring 2016

found money enables companies to invest in investors

Found Money is a rewards platform that allows brands to invest in your Acorns account.

It's designed to work seamlessly with the rest of Acorns. Customers shop with any of the 5 partner brands — JackThreadsDollar Shave ClubJet.comHotel Tonight, and 1-800-Flowers — using the same cards they have linked with Acorns, and they'll “find money” in their Acorns account as an invested reward within 30 days of purchase.

role

I led end-to-end product design for both iOS and Android, spearheading everything from initial ideation, user experience flows, wireframes, high fidelity mockups, and live prototypes. I also coordinated with both the business partnership team during the pitch and negotiation phase and paired closely with the mobile engineering team during implementation.

 
 

design goals and challenges

Before establishing any concrete design or business goals, the team and I established that Found Money shouldn't contradict the core identity of Acorns as an investing platform. We didn't want to become a flashy "deals" app, but something that users found genuine value in. It was an interesting challenge combining two seemingly contradictory initiatives (spending vs investing).

Once we established this mindset, we moved onto setting our goals.

In addition to establishing a viable source of revenue for the business, we established two user-oriented goals. First, conversion was an important metric so that customers opted in to shop with our featured partners. Secondly, sharing the reward they received was another key indicator to promote growth on our platform.

 
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design process

After setting these goals and refining our user persona (millenials), I then moved onto the ideation phase and explored possible options. For inspiration, I created a mood-board collecting countless examples, everything from home-screens of delivery services apps to generic social media profiles to guide the offer detail page. As I was collecting these different points of inspiration, I also mapped out the information architecture of Found Money and the user journey with the rest of our design team.

 
 

The flow continued to evolve and change during this design process. I then focused my attention on the Found Money overview page, the first point of contact for the user as he browses through all the available brands and what they have to offer him. To communicate an easy transition to this new, unknown feature, I relied on color theory to marry the Found Money "home" overview screen with the rest of Acorns. Color is a major component to not only the branding of Acorns, but the core experience. Typically in our app, cooler, greener colors indicate stability, peace, and conservative behavior while a hotter, pinker color indicate aggressiveness and risk.

By subtly combining Acorns gradients and colors with each of our partner brands, customers could both easily identify the partners and trust that these offers live within the security of Acorns.

 
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I explored different variations of this homescreen, starting from a card motif on the right to a couple of versions that incorporated more lifestyle imagery. One particular concept that was interesting and that I investigated deeply was this card iteration, with a subtle lifestyle image in the back and a physical, skeuomorphic representation of a card. The inspiration came from Apple Wallet and Facebook Paper where all the interactions were organic through fluid animation. I thought this interaction was very appropriate to translate the behavior of shopping and buying.

Ultimately, we moved away from this direction — the dark overlay with the image made the text murky, and it was difficult to read the offer details from each partner. Though I am open to bring back this card motif in future versions, a minimal offers list with an Acorns gradient was best appropriate for this MVP.

The brand and transaction detail pages were also important points in the flow because they directly tied in with the goals of converting users to buy and share.

 
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In light of this feedback loop of buying and sharing, I designed the brand detail page so that the most prominent action to take was to eventually shop using the big green CTA — not in an intrusive, annoying way, but in a curious fashion for the user to explore the offer details first, then shop.

Once the user received a Found Money reward, the designs encouraged the user so that he was more inclined to share his reward to outsiders, hence the introduction of the "Share" CTA on the transaction detail screen.

 
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In all my iterations of the brand detail page, I wanted to emphasize two key points: the branding of the partner, and the details of the offer. I translated the card motif from earlier overview designs onto this details page, but eventually landed on a full screen iteration. The total invested by the partner was also an important point as it emphasized how much this brand had invested in a user's account. In earlier versions, the team decided to have each user opt in to claim an offer — at the time, the thinking was that this would be a concrete, tangible way to measure user participation. In the end, we transitioned to all Acorns users automatically being opted in to decrease friction and maximize participation, hence the removal of the "Slide to Claim Offer" UI element.

It's always a challenge to incorporate different brands unto one platform. Each company has their own voice and identity, and on the practical level, it can be difficult incorporating different graphics and colors unto a neutral palette, though at the same time communicating that this is an Acorns platform. Our brand is bold and loud, with seemingly psychedelic, saturated gradients running full screen — it was an interesting challenge balancing the two.

 
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Outcome

After months of negotiating, designing, and engineering, we successfully launched Found Money on May 2016 (truly a team effort!). Reception from our users has been exceptionally positive and we received some press too. Because the designs were guided by clear goals of converting our users to buy and share, in addition to providing inherent value from the brands, 30k users have participated in Found Money to date.

Moving forward, we are learning a great deal from this initial "launch" phase. In response, I hope to continue to iterate and add on to these designs using more data from this period as we add even more brands in the very near future.

Thanks for reading.