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Neighborhood Trust

Working with the team at Neighborhood Trust, a New York City-based nonprofit organization focused on providing financial services to low-income clients, we went through an extensive human-centered design process. Our work focused on deep immersion into the problem, including weeks of interviews and research, leading to prototyping and iteration of the product. Our end goal was to deliver a product roadmap, so we stayed focused on building a guide for what's ahead.

Why?

When you're a New Yorker making $16,000 a year, finding financial tools that meet your specific needs can be almost impossible. And to no surprise, financial tools in the market are targeted at users in the middle class and above, leaving low income users trying to make a tool built for someone else work for them. Seeing a huge need, we developed a pilot plan focused solely on the people at the center of this distinct need.

Insights + Outcomes

What came of our research was PayGoal, a mobile application that gives actionable financial advice whenever you need it, wherever you are. It is free, always on financial guidance ready that provides simple step-by-step financial advice in a powerful money management tool. It brings 24/7 access to personalized financial advice with the committment to make people's money work for them.

Key design principles included:

Optimize for tight margins and variable incomes.
PayGoal is designed to be flexible, not rigid; alive and dynamic, not static. It’s accessible and easy to follow. It is responsive and generative and will offer ways to take action based on your specific needs, not on the needs of “people like you”.

Provide actionable advice.
Finances can be messy and complex and it’s difficult to know where to begin. Many times this stress leads to decision paralysis or apathy. With PayGoal, users are not alone in making their way to a healthy financial situation. We’re here to support them at every step ofthe way.

Lead with utility, retain with delight.
Inspired by proven behavioral economics principles, a key assumption of PayGoal is that incremental changes at the right time lead to long term benefits for the user. PayGoal engages people at their pace, on their schedule, and gives our users advice they can afford to put into practice.

Meet people where they are.
Our commitment to the people we’re serving is to recognize their needs and design a product that increases convenience within the context of their life, not demand big changes and inconveniences.

Our pilot plan was used to build an in-house product team and led to the project winning a $250,000 grant with Chase FinLab.

WHAT

System Design
Project Lead
Product Design
Interaction Design
Human-Centered Design

WHERE

New York City

We researched at a partner employer's breakroom by setting up a prototype experiment we called "Design Kitchen," allowing people to create their ideal financial tools on oversized boards in a playful, collaborative way.

A series of our latest product ideas starting to take shape as we design them further.

Co-creation sessions were a key component of our work. Here we made built all the building blocks and encouraged people to build their own best-case version.

Insights and design principles at the core of the work.