Designing, leading, and pitching a mobile experience that enables users to be proactive with their spending and take action on their savings goals.

October to December 2019

Lead product designer, taking ownership on creative direction, UX research, prototype, and curation of the final pitch.
CIBC Digital is the official digital department for the international Canadian bank corporation. Over my internship, I worked alongside three other interns, a product manager and two business analysts, as the sole designer for a case study competition within the company. Together, we created a money management feature on the CIBC mobile app that would enable clients to view a projection of their future cash flow as well as set up an automated savings plan.

An overview of our process:


Understanding the ask

In the beginning of the case study competition, my teammates and I were presented with a quite lengthy problem statement. Although we could’ve focused solely on simplifying the current app experience, my team and I decided that there was a much bigger pool of opportunity that we could tap into. Instead, we asked ourselves: How can we simplify our clients’ day-to-day lives?

Identifying user pain points

For this project, we decided to focus on the Upwardly Mobile Young Urbanites, 18 to 34 year olds who live in an urban area and are starting to build their careers, but need some financial guidance along the way. We chose user group because of three main reasons:

  1. They make up about 80% of CIBC’s customers who frequently use their mobile app
  2. Their transition into full-time careers and independence means that this is crucial time for personal financial management
  3. Living in an urban area means that they is likely a high volume of cash flow activity

With the help of other UX researchers from CIBC, we were able to collect data from past Alpha UX Vectors surveys (with a reach of over 1300 Canadian clients) as well as conduct our own user interviews with potential users. Outside of CIBC clients, we also gathered insights from financial trend reports for our user group including Credit Karma and BDO Canada. After compiling our primary and secondary research, we were able to get a better understanding of our users’ needs and frustrations.

Here are some of our key findings:

Identifying business opportunities

Just as it’s important to be user-centric in our design process, we must also be aware of business opportunities that exist to really sell our idea. Knowing that we would be eventually pitching our idea to business representatives, we new we needed to address existing business gaps, and how we could tap into those opportunities. Leveraging the efforts of our front and back-end analytics team as well as our digital sales team, we were able to find the following:


What are we designing?

At this point, we knew that we wanted to create a tool to help our clients better manage their personal finances. Seeing that CIBC is currently one of the only big Canadian banks without a PFM (Personal Financial Management) mobile tool only further pushed us in that direction. As a team, we got together and held a series of ideation sessions to come up with possible ways we could tackle the problem. Some of our key ideas, which would be used in our upcoming prototypes, are shown below:

After weeks of ideating and coming up with different feature ideas, we were able narrow it down to one concept that aligned with our research. Inspired by Apple’s Screen Time feature on their iOS devices, we wanted to create a similar experience for clients that would allow them to view a projection of their next month’s cash flow. Additionally, we wanted to take a further step and allow them to take action on their finances by creating a monthly autosave plan.

Creating a user flow diagram

Before prototyping our idea, it was important for us to organize a user flow diagram so that we knew the scope of the projects, how many screens we needed to build, and would be able to get some initial feedback from the key stakeholders. In other words, by creating this diagram, we were able to efficiently and succinctly test and pitch our idea to our users, who would help us acknowledge any grey areas we had missed, as well as address any redundant steps. Getting feedback early on not only allows us to be more user-centric in our process, but also cuts down on time spent designing screens in our initial idea which would've been scrapped in future iterations.


Prototype, test, iterate on feedback, repeat.

Despite having narrowed down our user flow through initial feedback, there were still a lot of gaps in our product that would be later uncovered through low, medium, and high fidelity mockups of our app feature. During this process, we relied heavily on our key stakeholders to provide feedback at each iteration. This included conducting usability test sessions and cognitive walkthroughs with product team members as well as current Upwardly Young Mobile Urbanites (our target users).

Main pieces of feedback and changes are noted in the supporting images below:


Our final prototype

Introducing jomo, also known as the joy of missing out, reminding clients that although its good to live a little, your finances should always be at the forefront. This feature on the CIBC mobile app will allow clients to be proactive with their money management. Jomo uses our clients’ past three months of cash flow history to predict their spend for the following month. In doing so, it also allows users to easily set up an autosave plan using their income left, helping the client and the business grow.

Conclusions and learnings

Although we didn’t take home the title of winner, I have without a doubt learnt a lot about what it means to be a better designer, project manager, and teammate throughout these past 4 months. Here are some of my main takeaways:


Designing for the user AND the business needs.

As this was my first time working with the Digital Sales and Analytics teams, jomo taught me the importance of data-driven design decisions that would allow the product to meet real business pain points.

Leading a team doesn’t mean being an expert at everything.

It means understanding every member’s strengths and weaknesses, and allocating tasks that bring light to those strengths.

The importance of being resourceful.

In a big corporation, creating a pitch for a project means talking to multiple teams of different disciplines in order to validate decision making and direction.

Leveraging the use of social media and gamification to shed light on the current state of the world's coral reefs, as well as how we can help.

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