Help young adults learn financial literacty by self-reflection

We developed the app Mirror, which helps educate emerging adults with financial literacy by making suggestions on short term financial status and develop good spending habits.


Aug. 2017 - Dec. 2017


Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA

My Role

UX designer, UX researcher


Jason Paul | Michelle Ma | Tony Jin

Research Method

Literature Review, Competitive Analysis, Interview, Survey, Usability Testing


Balsamiq, Sketch, Invision, Photoshop


Define the users

Literature Review

we conducted a literature review to understand the larger social background of financial education, including the settings where children receive financial education and how well the knowledge is applied. overview

Competitive Analysis

We conducted a competitive analysis of products on financial literacy education. The products mostly focus on saving allowance and budgeting and parents usually play a monitoring role instead of teaching. We also find that if a product attempts to include more educative content, it becomes less user-friendly and less intriguing as well, which can be a potential design space for us to explore. Besides financial apps for children, we also learn from features of financial apps for adult.


Survey & User Interview

Because we only have limited time and interview resources, we send out the survey first because it is the guaranteed resource to get large amount of data and it helps us refine our quesitons in our precious interviews. The surveys and interviews helped us learn about

  • Parents' attitude towards financial literacy education
  • Children's attitude towards learning financial literacy
  • Financial concepts parents consider important for their children
  • The difficullties parents encountered

We find that parents think it's extremely important for children to learn financial literacy but lack methods and tools. However, young children lack interest in learning financial literacy. The top two financial concepts parents want their children to learn most are Price vs. Value and Budgeting.

Expert Interview

Since we don't have professional knowledge in financial education, we conduct two expert interviews. Besides their expertise in the personal financial education space, these experts are also parents with teenage children. From the interviews, we want to

  • Interview them as parents
  • Learn from their ways of financial literacy education
  • Get feedback on our findings and discuss possible directions

The experts give us great insights on education methodology. Usually they ask children to learn by practicing. They also point out one important factor: Children's interest in financial management will suddenly grow as soon as they leave home and enter college, where they start to face real life problem.

Affinity Diagramming

Concept Ideation

Brain Storming

process process

Concept 1
Ask users to reflect on their purchases regularly to help them identify decision patterns like impulsive buying and make better purchase decision in the future.

Concept 2
Bring distant financial concepts closer by (1) encouraging them to set long term saving goals (2) visualizing the long-term financial status based on current financial status.

Concept 3
Provide guidelines for parents to co-plan family budget with their children.

Concept 4
Help children learn financial practice by actively rewarding certain amount of money if they successfully accomplish tasks of financial management.

Sketch Feedback

To narrow down our user group and improve our concepts, we draw out sketchs for the 4 final concepts and conducted interviews.

For concept 1, users main feedbacks are:

  • Lack of motivation to do it everyday
  • Unsure about what to do with the data

As a result, we decide to push notification as incentive and provide suggestions based on users input data.

For Concept 2, users main feedbacks are:

  • Financial goals have vastly different time horizons, difficult to compare
  • Doubt reliability of long term predictions
  • Long term goals stress people out

As a result, we decide to focus on short term financial status first.

Concept 3 and 4 received some positive feedback, but generally users think the tasks we create lack novelty and can be done outside our tool. Also, considering about the IRB restriction on interviewing children, we decide to focuse on revised concept 1 and 2.


Design Overview

Information Architechture

Information Architechture
Data visualizations that provide users with their spending and expenditure facts, together with relevant insights and advices.
A timeline containing all purchase history as well as logs of user’s previous self-reflections.
All self reflection cards that require user’s actions. user will also be able to access this module from system level push notifications.
This section contains settings for the account, notifications, etc.
Information Architechture Information Architechture


Information Architechture

User Flow

user flow



User testing Procedure

user testing


user testing

Insight Tab

Issue 1: Some users were confused about whether the emotional category of the product (e.g. Necessity vs. Treat Yourself) is decided by the system or inputted by the user.

Solution: Add a tutorial when users first use the app to perform a self-reflection. Issue 2: Some users voiced that there is too much text on the insights page.

Solution: Only provide an one-line suggestion for each recommendation presented in this page. Make it really clear through visual design that the one-line suggestion can be clicked in order to see further details and evidence supporting the suggestion.

Issue 3: Some users mentioned that the wording of the suggestions might sound controlling and need to be refined, though they are open to recommendations that are phrased properly.

Solution: Try to rephrase the recommendations, though it is not the core issue of our project.

Reflection Tab

Issue 1: The “required action” filter seems confusing to several users. Some users expect those cards to take them to the action center, where they can complete the required actions.

Solution: Delete the “required action” filter in the reflection tab. Add a list view option to action center, so that the users can see a list (timeline) of all the cards that need to be filled out.

Issue 2: User mentioned that she’d like to see more information on the reflection timeline itself.

Solution: Design a color scheme that corresponds to the 5 emojis that represent user’s feelings about a product. Color code all the cards in the timeline to indicate whether the user is satisfied with the purchase or not. Iteratively test the color code and A/B test the version with color coding against the current one without color coding.
user testing
user testing

Action Center Tab

Issue 1: Several users were confused about which buttons are clickable on the reflection card.

Solution: Change the UI design.

Issue 2: People were confused about why we asked them when they’ll start using the product. Some didn’t notice the field at all.

Solution: Explain the start date into the tutorial, which is shown during people’s first reflection. Move the start date field to a more prominent location and potentially increase its size.

Issue 3: Some users are confused about the difference between factual and emotional categories.

Solution: Remove factual categories from reflection cards. Keep only emotional categories if available.

Issue 4: The wording of the questions are confusing to several users.

Solution: Rephrase the question.

Settings Tab

Issue 1: Some users mentioned that there’s a lot of content on the settings page.

Solution: Change the UI design so that on each page, each section’s title clearly indicates what’s in that section, and that it is clear that the detailed settings in each section appear to be in the same group. We can achieve this by giving the same background color to detailed settings under the same tiatle, and increase the distance between detailed settings under different titles.

Issue 2: Some users don’t understand what a day, a week, and a month mean when customizing the notification timing by category.

Solution: Change “a day” to “after a day”, etc. Change “Customized by category” to “Customize Notification Timings”
user testing