Adding a recurring payment feature to Venmo
UX Designer (Research, Visual Design, Interaction Design, User Testing)
4 weeks
Figma, Pencil & Paper
App Design, Icon Creation, interaction design logo design
-Design a feature that allows users to repeat payments and schedule recurring transactions.

-Build out the appropriate screens alongside existing Venmo design to integrate the new feature
In this speculative project, Venmo wants to offer more features to increase their market share and optimize user experience. Identify a pain point and design a seamlessly integrated feature to address it.
What needs of users can Venmo address to optimize their experience?
Research : Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
Mobile payments are an increasingly normal part of life in the 21st century, and Venmo is one of the apps leading the charge. In order to design a feature that continues the app's pioneering spirit, I conducted research with the following objectives: to gather detail on key competitors, and collect insight to inform empathy mapping and persona generation.

Here's a bit of what I learned from the first step, secondary market research:

1. 14% of adult Americans use Venmo for P2P transactions (Balancing Everything)
2. The most common uses of mobile banking apps included paying rent, splitting utility bills, sharing meals and gifting (MarketWatch)
3. Users average 5 transactions a month (Business of Apps)
At the start of every design process I like to get the lay of the land through secondary research. I confirmed that Venmo is highly popular among Gen-Z and Millennials.
Venmo's market share is respectable, but there are several peer-to-peer/transaction apps that offer similar similar experiences as well as additional features. Completing this competitive analysis provided me with a basis to further define Venmo's station in the industry and how other similar apps develop their interfaces. Venmo stands out as an app that has a truly simple interface without rerouting to one's bank- even as Venmo expands their services, the interface without going to the menu is much simpler than other competitors.
Conducting a competitive analysis allowed me to assess features of the competition while affirming Venmo's placement in the market. This is needed to ensure I maintain this unique position.
Working on an existing app gave me the opportunity to critically scrutinize details of Venmo's design. In this heuristic valuation, I could admire how the aforementioned simplicity helps their usability as defined by Nielsen's heuristics, but noted several aesthetic inconsistencies to be wary of while moving forward with this project.
I learned that Venmo sticks out through its truly simple interface, upholding that standard in the new feature was imperative.
Using the provisional personas as a basis for recruitment, I found 5 Venmo users to interview to learn more about their behaviors. I asked several questions about their usage; here are just a few:

1. Tell me a bit about what you use Venmo for.
2. Can you describe what one of your typical interactions
with Venmo would be step-by-step?
3. Are there any other financial applications you use?

Using the interview transcripts, I noted every comment made during the interviews and grouped similar ones to synthesize the interviews into common sentiments. This is illustrated through this empathy map:

Design that doesn't solve a problem is art, not design. To determine an appropriate solution I conducted interviews to determine a problem to design for. I used an empathy map to appropriately categorize their responses into common pain points, which I synthesized into user needs.
which indicated the following needs
These clusters were then synthesized into insights
To split meal bills digitally
Most users share meals and split the bill for shared meals using venmo
To inject some fun into transactions with friends
To securely conduct repeat transactions
Most users utilize emojis when describing transactions
Most users pay for rent and other recurring expenses with Venmo
Define : "Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution"
With the research stage complete it was time to start narrowing in on the problem I'd solve for. Using the the insights, needs, and general behaviors found during the research phase, I developed a persona to ground the solutions I'd develop in the user's needs. Matt Robertson reflects the goals and motivations of a core Venmo user, and he shares several of the pains as the interviewees. Using this persona ensured that I was taking actual users into account as I designed- you'll notice that his needs are those uncovered in the previous stage.
To keep the user in mind, I developed a persona thats an amalgam of the demographic information, user behaviors, and user needs uncovered during research.
POV statements encapsulate users' needs, and HMW questions transfer them to the designer's remit. By literally asking 'how might we do so-and-so?", I can start generating potential solutions to the needs uncovered in empathy research. The insights and needs from empathy mappng comprise the first two columns in this diagram, and the last two is where they are formatted into actionable statements.
I used HMW questions to convert my persona's needs into actionable statements I could use as an informed baseline for brainstorming solutions.
Having learned more about the user's goals, it was worthwhile to account for those of the business- especially as this project involved working off of an existing digital product with an established ethos. This diagram provided a basis to see if the potential solutions to user needs addressed business goals as well.
Before brainstorming, I completed this diagram to assess Venmo's needs as well as the user's. This was required here as I was designing for an existing product with an established ethos.
After brainstorming answers to the HMW questions, I started defining viable solutions to address the needs from the research stage.

This roadmap ennumerates these solutions within the Venmo app, and also includes their priority level as defined by my confidence in delivering them within the project timeframe and the amount of effort.

The 'must haves' comprise the feature I would endeavor to create: an option to repeat transactions and schedule recurring ones.

All of the brainstormed solutions to the user needs in this roadmap were compared with criteria that determined which solutions would be most viable with the time /tools allotted. It was designing a flow to conduct repeat and recurring transactions.
Ideate : "Surrender to the flow."- Mike Gordon
The ideate stage for this particular project was not just about designing a feature, but also its placement within the app at large. This sitemap is an exploration of the information architecture of the current app, with the additional screens that comprise the new feature.

This app map places the proposed feature into the existing information architecture of Venmo.
The aforementioned navigation within the app map's structure can vary in myriad ways- but this task flow grounds the proposed flows to the user's needs. The below tasks address the three needs uncovered in earlier stages: storing, discussing, and locating content.

Grounded in the user's needs, the tasks described here use the above app map to illustrate how users will move through the new feature to repeat a transaction or schedule a new recurring one.
The two journeys in the task flow were then combined and expanded on to comprise this userflow. It shows not only the above flows, but the various options users can take at several points in the same tasks, like searching for a previous transaction instead of using their personal history tab.

Combining the task flows into one diagram that also accounts for variations in the user's journey resulted in this userflow, which I consider a bible of the feature's interaction design.
Design : "It's not words you should trust, rather the pattern."
I knew what interactions the user would make in the recurring transaction feature, and it was time to visualize how they would actually look in the interface. Low-fidelity sketches carry minimal risk, but still provide an effective way to understand how the user will access the design. It was paramount to follow Venmo's established design patterns to not only insure that the new feature would fall in line with the business goals, but also so it's functionality comes naturally to users. The sketches reflect how I designed the scheduling of recurring transactions to mimic the pattern Venmo use's to change a transaction's privacy settings.
I sketched out some low-fi wireframes while referencing the Ideate stage. This was a low risk way to explore the layout of scheduling recurring transactions feature. I decided to model it after Venmo's pattern of changing a transaction's privacy settings.
Using the low-fi wireframes as direct reference, I built out high-fidelity wireframes of the new feature and key screens of Venmo required to illustrate the entire flow. This was a continuation of my objective to adhere to the app's existing patterns, seen here through the iconography, color selection, spacing, and- notably- the use of radio buttons (which are very prevalent throughout the app; they eschew dropdowns and other patterns in most instances).
I built off of the low-fi wireframes and Venmo's visual design to mock up these screens to seamlessly fit into the app, taking heed of their use of whitespace radio buttons.
Once the wireframes were complete, I could link them together into a usable, testable prototype. This was particularly exciting as it's the actualization of not only the sketches at the beginning of the design stage, but also ideas generated after research.
This high fidelity prototype linked the wireframes together to realize the entire design process into a testable product to be validated by users.
Repeating a previously made transaction.
Scheduling a new repeating transaction.
Locating repeating transactions.
Testing & Beyond : Always be testing.
Once the prototype was complete, it was necessary to test it with Venmo users to determine usability, unforeseen issues, and also whether the concept was a worthwhile addition to the app. This was accomplished through virtual testing with 5 millennial participants attempting three moderated tasks:

1. You’re Matt. You paid your portion of the rent back to your roommate, Jay Patrowski, in December, and now you want to set up a recurring payment. Find this transaction and schedule this payment to repeat on the 1st of every month.

2. You just started a new job writing copy for Eden Bothman’s social accounts. You’re getting paid $65 a week. Schedule a recurring weekly request on Mondays to Eden for $65 as your invoice.

3. Find your list of transactions that you’ve set up to repeat.

I asked 5 testers to accomplish a task related to the three functionalities of the new feature: scheduling, repeating, and finding the transactions.
Testing provided important quantitative data:

Task Completion Rate: Task 1 & 3 had a completion rate of 100%. One participant was unable to complete Task 2 without prompting due to a prototyping issue.

Error Free Rate: 96%.

Notably- no users made the more significant errors I expected, like being unable to close the scheduling windows, or being unable to find the icon/label to schedule the repeat.

None of the testers made the errors I expected, but a couple of slips did occur. Overall, the task completion rate was high all-around, with 100% for 2/3 tasks.
Much like the empathy map, this affinity map shows how I noted observations and comments from each user test and then consolidated common stickies into groups. These categories were each synthesized into an insight, and negative insights informed recommendations for improvement.

Notably, 4/5 participants expressed that this feature is useful. Creating a recurring transaction was easily repeatable, and the icon/label location was rememberable after intial discovery.
This affinity map allowed me to see common experiences amongst the testers and identify major issues to improve. I'm happy to report 80% of testers expressed, unprompted, that the new feature was useful.
3/5 participants had some hesitation with regards to submitting the repeats, feeling unsure about whether they were scheduling or paying
Change the color of the repeat icon to be more noticeable and to create contrast when the status is changed
2/5 participants expressed the belief that the ‘repeat’ icon within the transaction builder could be more prominent
Include a short onboarding message
above the calendar asking the user to input the date of the first/only payment‍
This is before and after the implementation of the first recommendation "Include a short onboarding message above the calendar asking the user to input the date of the first/only payment". Adding a message to provide a little bit of onboarding is a relatively easy change to make, but can make the entire process feel easier and safer to users.
Responding directly to the insight that the testers felt trepidation in scheduling the payment, I added a short bit of copy. Tiny changes= big results for the user!
‍This project allowed for my growth as well the opportunity to understand and appreciate Venmo's interface. The former came about through the process of generating ideas in the context of an existing app: it wasn't just about creative problem solving, but doing so with very specific guidelines.

For example, Venmo's transaction builder doesn't have any scrolling capability. The screen dimensions of the user's device were my real estate, which makes adding any kind of feature a game of refinement and simplicity.

Regarding Venmo's interface, aesthetic inconsistencies within the visual design became abundantly clear at the time of this project's completion. It appeared Venmo's visual design was growing faster than the app itself. It's a reminder within my own work to bear in mind that inconsistency can be a mammoth issue to fix, and should be prioritized early. ‍

Overall, in setting out to design a feature that adds value to the Venmo experience, I think I succeeded. 4/5 users directly said that the recurring transaction feature was useful in general, and specifically useful to them.


Were this project to continue, I'd look forward to testing changes made with these recommendations, and building out the feature in the following ways: cancelling recurring transactions,designing the notification system for when the transactions recur, and integrating external calendars.
1. I got to hone my skills in refinement to integrate seamlessly into Venmo's minimalist interface.

2. Working with Venmo illuminated how inconsistent the interface is between new and old features. It's a reminder to prioritize consistency!

Overall, I'm so pleased that testing showed this feature was usable AND useful. I'd look forward to testing the updated prototype and building out more of the repeat process.