PROJECT OVERVIEW
Background
It is cumbersome to track the amount spent on subscriptions and, there is not an easy way to manage them.
During the lockdown period, I purchased several online subscriptions and soon lost track of them. After spending two hours going through my credit card statement, I realized that I was paying for subscriptions that I am not using. Also, a lot of free trials have converted to recurring payments without my notice. When I searched online for a solution, I found a lot of the third parties apps available to track subscriptions. Unfortunately, these apps have their own share of privacy and trust issues. which led me to the design of a subscription tracking feature in the Bank of America app.
Role
This is an independent self-initiated project and hence I was responsible for concept, brainstorming, user research, competitive analysis, UX Design and conducting user tests.
Time Duration
3 weeks ( February 3rd - February 28th)
Disclaimer: This project is an exploration of an idea, not created for an actual deployment on the Bank of America app as I have no affiliations with Bank of America. I acknowledge that the views expressed in this case study are strictly my own.
1. DISCOVER
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
Why is this problem important?
Nowadays companies are going in for a subscription-based model that allows people to use a service and bill monthly. Too many subscriptions gobble our monthly budget and at some point, it becomes difficult to keep track of them.

According to a report by Credit Suisse, approximately $420 billion is spent on subscriptions in the US. 
As more companies are adopting this model, users need a way to efficiently and securely manage their subscriptions. 

Target Audience
Who:  Bank of America app/website users
Behavior: People who use mobile and web banking services regularly
Market Segmentation: Users who have at least 3 subscriptions linked to their credit card.

Current Solution Analysis
I kick-started my process by analyzing the existing subscription tracking apps to understand the current market and identify gaps and opportunities that I could tap into. 
I chose some of the industry-known apps like true bill, bobby for this purpose.
Analysis
I understood that although there are a variety of well-designed solutions already available in the market,
- most of them require manually inputting the subscriptions which are time-consuming
- request the users to grant access to their bank accounts
- these apps tend to be free at first but may charge for additional features and services

- Users are concerned about the privacy and security issues

PROPOSED SOLUTION
Why create a subscription tracking feature inside a banking app?
Integrating the advantages of the above apps into an add-on feature to the bank of America app will help users securely manage all of their expenses in one place. In general, people trust the banking sites as they have layered security and fraud detection features. People are familiar and comfortable with banking apps and hence learning to use a new feature will be easy. 

Why Bank of America?
I chose Bank of America for this project since I am familiar with the interface and I will have access to all the screens and options. It Is also one of the largest credit card issuers in the market and so the feature designed would benefit a lot of users.​​​​​​​
2. RESEARCH
user needs assessment
Interviews was conducted to understand the issues people face with subscriptions

Why interviews?
Since questions will be mostly related to banking and finance management, most people won't be comfortable disclosing them in an online survey. I do not want to be blinded by my assumptions and biases and miss something crucial. So I decided to get the answers directly from the users. The participants were chosen in my friend's group who are current users of the BOFA app/ website. ​​​​​​​

Interview Protocol

Here are some of the quotes by the participants:
" It's a daunting task to cancel a transaction by calling the customer care."
" I am not comfortable in sharing my bank details with a third party app."
" I am not sure how much percentage of the budget goes towards subscriptions. I think it will be 5-10%."
" It is very difficult to go through bank statement every month to track subscriptions."
"A text reminder of a recurring payment, before it hits my account will be beneficial."

What I learned from these interviews?
Conducting interviews helped me to

1. Prioritize features:
All the users wanted to view the due date of subscriptions as well as receive an alert message before the money is deducted.
2. Gain an understanding of other pain points: 
One user pointed out that it would be nice to have the billing history of a subscription that indicates when they signed up and how many months they have paid so far.
3. Know the Current methods people are using to track subscriptions:
Most of them use google calendars to set up payment alerts. One participant pointed me to an interesting solution namely the Mint app by Intuit. Analyzing this app gave me a foundation to design my solution for Bank of America. 
Micro Goals
These micro goals are prioritized based on the user needs assessment and current solution analysis. 
1. Help people track recurring subscriptions:
It's a daunting task to go through the credit card statements now and then to track subscriptions. A separate tab or page that lists the subscriptions with the payment due dates will be very useful.
2. Ability to edit/cancel subscriptions:
Sometimes it isn't quite clear, from the statement whether the payment is for skillshare or Evernote. The name that appears on the statement doesn't exactly tell what service it is. Hence the ability to rename, categorize and cancel subscriptions is very important to avoid confusion. 
3. Allow users to set a reminder alert of the upcoming subscription
This is the number one option user's want to see in a subscription tracking feature. Option to set reminders helps them avoid unwanted fees. Allowing the users to set alerts for only the subscriptions they want prevents too much intrusion from the app.
4. Monitor the amount spent on recurring payments for a month
Most of the users are not aware of how much percentage of their monthly and annual budget is spent on recurring payments. Giving them a clear picture will help plan their budget better.
5. Ability to manually add a new subscription
This option is helpful when the banking algorithm doesn't recognize a recurring payment or transaction.
All of the above micro-goals have to be achieved by minimally changing the existing interface of the app. 
3. DESIGN
Thinking through user flows
I took a closer look at the existing apps ( true bill, intuit, bobby, etc) to study their interface and structure. This helped me to understand how a typical user would interact with the app to carry out the above 5 goals.
I went ahead and sketched user flows to visualize the interface. I started writing down the goal, starting point and mapped them to see how the user will carry the task seamlessly. Synthesizing the research results, solution analysis, and micro goals I sketched five user task flows.

Meet Kathy  ( Ideal User)
Kathy ( persona) aged 35 works as a software engineer in a leading firm. Post lockdown she subscribed to a variety of apps for grocery shopping and fitness. Soon the bills hit high and it was difficult for her to keep track of the subscriptions. Since she is busy with work and kids she needs a simple solution to manage her finances.
Writing a scenario and creating an ideal user profile helped me to understand the audiences' needs and situation better. 

Challenge - 1
Where to position this feature inside the app for maximum benefit?
​​​​​​​
Why is this important?
I was not sure whether to place it like a filter in the transactions category or a separate tab under the bills category. If this feature is not immediately visible not many people will use it so the purpose of designing this feature is lost. Discovering this feature helps to drive engagement from within the product and makes it easier for users to act and adapt.

Solution
Spending some time with the BOFA and other financial management apps and understanding how everything is categorized helped me to position this feature as a tab under the bill pay category. 
Wireframes
Exploring the solution ideas through sketches

Challenge 2: 
Conflict between existing BOA UI patterns and my design
1. Highlighting the cost:
The most important things that the user would want to see are the name of the subscription and cost. In the current UI pattern, the cost is placed below the category and not immediately visible and hence in my suggested redesign, the cost of the subscription is more prominent. The user must be able to clearly see and distinguish all the necessary details on the screen or page. The color scheme and font combinations should support easy and intuitive navigation and make the most important layout elements stand out effectively.​​​​​​​
2. Difficulty in finding spending and budgeting option:
In the dashboard screen, the spending and budgeting option is not immediately visible at first glance. So in the redesigned version, an overview of this month’s budget with a clear CTA to track spending is given. ​​​​​​​
3. Poor color contrast
The current UI pattern uses colors with less contrast for the spending and budgeting chart which is a potential problem for users with
color-blindness.
Good color contrast enhances usability and supports readability.​​​​​​​
SOLUTION

While I tried to stay within the brand guidelines as much as possible, I also incorporated some of the ideas that will improve the overall user experience. To confirm this I did A/B testing with 3 people and understood that the redesigned version helps them achieve their goals easily.
FINAL DESIGN
Let's see how Kathy( persona) navigates through the app to complete the above micro goals.




User Flow 1 - Tracking Subscriptions
After logging in, Kathy clicks the subscription tab under the bill pay category. She sees the list of subscriptions as well as an option to edit each one of them. In order to view the upcoming bills she opens up the calendar and to check when her audible subscription is due.


User Flow 2 - Cancel a subscription
Kathy wishes to cancel her Spotify subscription and hence she goes to the edit menu. She sees the cancel subscription option and clicks it. An error prevention message is displayed to prevent Kathy from accidentally cancelling the subscription.


User Flow 3 - Set Reminder Alert
Kathy wanted to set text alert for a trial subscription so that she can cancel it before her card is charged. She turns on the set alert switch in the edit subscription screen and chooses her alert mode as email. 


User Flow 4 - Manually Add a Subscription
Kathy wants to add her new Instacart subscription to the list so she clicks the add subscription button at the top of the page. She enters the details and hits the save button. The new subscription appears
in the list.


User Flow 5 - Tracking Spending
Kathy hit the track spending option in the dashboard to check the total amount spent on subscriptions in a month.

Challenge 3:
How do I explain the new feature for novice users and encourage them to try it? 

I had a confusion about which feature discovery option would work best for this app whether it is Progressive onboarding or pop-up explanation or a Tooltip
After analyzing the pros and cons of each option I decided to settle down on the contextual pop-up option as it is less invasive as well as explains the capabilities of the new feature. There is also a CTA that motivates the users to try out the feature. 
User Testing
How effective is the discoverability of the new feature? Is this feature helpful?

I conducted remote moderated user testing with three participants . Five tasks based on the different user flows were given and the participants were asked to share their screens while performing the tasks. 
Task 1: Use the Bank of America app to track your subscriptions. Check when your next audible subscription is due.
Task 2: Change the name and category How will you cancel a subscription?
Task 3: Show me how you will cancel a subscription service.
Task 4: Set up text alert for Spotify service.
Task 5: Manually add the Instacart subscription service
Task 6: Check how much percentage of your budget is spent on subscriptions.
All the users felt the concept was great and the feature will definitely help to track their subscriptions.

However, there were a few usability issues identified:
1. "Paid" and "Due" are confusing on the subscriptions page
Users want to first see the upcoming bills. The subscription that has already been paid on February 5th will be due on March 5th. Hence only showing the upcoming bills will avoid confusion. The users can check the payment history if they want to check paid bills.
2. Tracking quarterly( 3 months) and half-yearly ( 6 months) subscriptions 
One user asked whether this feature will track quarterly and half-yearly subscriptions. While I am not sure about the banking algorithm, manually adding the transaction to the subscription list will help to track them.
4. CONCLUSION
Outcome
1. A  feature to track subscriptions was designed and all the micro goals were met.
By conducting user testing it was clear that the feature is helpful and easy to use. 
2. Also, this project won first place in the UX Design contest 15 .
Retrospective
What worked well? 
1. Timebox:
Timeboxing helped me to prioritize tasks and focus on what is important, which improved the overall productivity. Breaking up the entire project into smaller sprints and timeboxing enabled me to complete the project in 3 weeks. 
2. Spending time with the BOFA app:
Spending more time analyzing the user flows, information architecture, and visual design helped me to design a feature within the brand guidelines of the BOFA app. 
3. Using Adobe XD:
I was contemplating between InVision and Adobe XD, but due to the limited time I decided to go with the tool I am most comfortable with and hence I chose Adobe XD. Using the design libraries 
and templates I was able to finish the working prototype in a week. 


What didn't work well? ( Lessons learned) 
1. Too much time spent on research:
Since this is the first time I am tackling a fintech project I spent most of my time on research. This left me little time to work on the
actual design.
2. Designing for scale:
The above design is better suited for users with less than 6 subscriptions. I didn't think beyond the pilot phase and hence expanding and scaling would be a challenge in the future.
3. Judging the depth of the project by the idea:
The idea seemed very simple to execute at first, but it got complex as I started to work on it. Hence I had to rush and spend long hours to finish the project in the 3-week period. I realized I need to allocate one week of buffer time to avoid last-minute exhaustion.

How do I feel after finishing the project? 
Although this project is not fully finished and requires some issues to be fixed, I feel proud and extremely satisfied with how far I was able to achieve in a short amount of time. 

NEXT STEPS

1. User testing with more participants: 
Generally, user tests with over 6 participants yield better results, but due to limited time, only 2 participants tested the feature. 
2. Research on how this feature will strategically benefit Bank of America:
Understanding why banking sites do not have this feature will be an area of research. While it is not easy and straightforward to get this information, talking to people working in the fintech industry will give some insights.
3. Extend this feature to the website:
A lot of users prefer using laptops and tablets for financial transactions and hence it is important to extend this feature for the bigger screens.

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