Help Youngsters Financially Grow — a UX Case Study

Problem statement

Mirabeau reached out to us with the following problem: Banks are great at helping you spend, but not so great at helping you save. In a world where banking is seen as outdated, negative, or frustrating and disrupters are attacking from every angle… How can a bank stay relevant by being the first traditional bank that focuses on helping young people grow rather than spend?

How might we create a mobile banking experience for traditional banks in which young people financially grow and therefore love?

The Challenge: we need to change the behaviour of the user regarding money.

Our solution

Stacks! Stacks are your saving goals. The Stack-card shows you what you are saving for, how much money you have already saved, and what amount you still have to save. Once you tap ‘Stack it!’ you can add money to our Stack.

Stacks: one of the saving goals

Note: This is a school project, so none traditional bank was never officially involved during the process. We finished the project with an 8,5/10.
Duration: 5 months.
My role: UX Researcher and interaction designer.


Roan Deighton, Meike ‘s Gravemade, Ken Vreman, Noemi Overdijk and I (Jochem Aarns) were excited for this project.

These days, the quality of the experience of a service is becoming more and more important. We don’t just want to know what customers do, but also what they think and feel during the process of buying things. We decided to organize an experience map session with real users.

Rough Experience Map.

What stood out most, was that people who are great at handling their money, spend way more money on small purchases as they want to. Going for a quick snack at school, grabbing a beer after a long day.. And every time they did it, they immediately regret it. Why do they do it again next time, knowing they will regret it? What’s the trigger? This was a great insight and opportunity for us.

“And every time they did it, they immediately regret it.”

Cultural Probes

For us to understand why they keep doing small purchases, we made Cultural Probes to learn more about the user. We wanted to get to the ‘tacit’ and ‘latent’ level of knowledge. To get there, we gave our respondents assignments they made for a week. After a week, we interviewed them to really get to the ‘tacit’ and ‘latent’ level. I found out ‘The Five Why’s’ is a very powerful technique to learn much about the user. The primary goal of this technique is to determine the root of a problem by repeating the question ‘Why?’.

Levels of knowledge: explicit, observative, tacit and latent.

Now it was time to turn this data into insights; we did this by doing a wall analysis. We did this twice to gather more insights from our data. These insights helped us define the scope and focus for the Co-Creation. The scope: ‘Motivating young people to save money’ and the focus: ‘to simplify saving money’.

Cultural Probe our respondents made for a week.


Together with the same respondents who made the cultural probes, we did two really inspiring Co-Creation sessions. In these sessions, each respondent was a co-designers and had a say in the matter. But more important, Co-Creation brings the users closer to the designer.

“A design that is not relevant to its target audience, will never be a success.”

Co-Creation with our respondents.

User Insights

The main insights from the user research:

  • Young people are easily influenced by each other regarding financial decisions.
  • Young people often confuse saving money with economising money.
  • Young people think they don’t have money to save.
  • Young people need a trigger to save their money.
  • Young people with saving goals are more motivated to save money.

These insights answer the question why youngsters are doing a lot of small purchases, even though they immediately regret it. We, designers, have superpowers. We can let the user do things they didn’t think they could. How do we learn them to save? By breaking big dreams into small steps. That’s the way to move forward. Remember you don’t have to get from A to Z. You just have to get from A to B.

“Breaking big dreams into small steps is the way to move forward.”


The five of us (all interaction designers) came up with 3 concepts each. We had 15 great concepts, now we just had to converge it to 1.. We used dot-voting to make choices and the result was an inspiring discussion. First, we chose 3 to work out further. Is the concept clear? Why? How do we motivate the user? We combined some of the concepts to make one strong concept.

Dot-voting process

Once we made the flow, I noticed we kept adding features. Adding friends with Facebook, bounce off a dare, etc. I thought the app was getting too complex. The others agreed and we decided to make this complexity matrix:

Complexity Matrix

The steps were written on post-its and we discussed whether a step was important, unimportant, intuitive or complex:

  • Was it complex and unimportant? Straight to the bin.
  • Was it complex but important? We need to guide the user.
  • Was it important and intuitive? We need to keep this one!
  • Was it unimportant but intuitive? We need to discuss this one.

At this point, we knew what to keep, what to get rid off. With these insights, we were able sharpen our concept and go to the prototype-test phase.

That’s when we came up with Stacks!

So.. youngsters need a trigger to save money, they influence one another and they need saving goals in order to be motivated.. You can do the math!

Stacks is a new savings account including a stand-alone application that will make saving more accessible for young people by allowing them to help each other to reach their saving goals, called ‘Stacks’. They can react on each other’s stacks by sending in ‘dares’, small challenges that will help their friends to complete these particular stacks.

Stacks: one of the saving goals


These are your Stacks, your saving goals. The Stack-card shows you what you are saving for, how much money you have already saved, and what amount you still have to save. Once you tap ‘Stack it!’ you can add money to our Stack.

We learned from the Zeigarnik Effect: we used progress bars for complex tasks to show the task is unfinished.

Zeigarnik Effect: “People remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.”

Dare your friends!


When you tap the Stack-card, you get to see more information about your saving goal: who sent you a dare, complete a dare or dare yourself. This way, your friends are supporting you in your saving goal: you are not alone on this!

Safe money without thinking about it!


Every time the user adds money to the Stack, a small percentage of the amount goes to their Safe. Naturally, they can adjust the percentage to their liking. This is one of the most important parts of our app, because we found out youngsters think they don’t have money to save. The goal is to let the user save up money without being really conscious about it.


Our application requires a lot of interaction, that’s why we tested in a way which worked really well: quick and dirty. Test the interaction, not necessarily the visuals. This made it possible to improve our application in an efficient way.


For us, the most important thing was to involve the user in the process as much as possible. We learned very much about the user, which made it possible to make designs that are relevant to them. A design that is not relevant to its target audience, will never be a success.

“For us, the most important thing was to involve the user in the process as much as possible.”




UX Designer

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Jochem Aarns

Jochem Aarns

UX Designer

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