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constellations student money manager

Ideas to Interfaces Nov-Dec 2012

constellations ideas to interfaces nov-dec 2012

Conducted by Slabs’ design experts, Ideas to Interfaces was a course that taught us the rules of User Centred Design and how to apply its principles in creating a mobile application. The application was to be visually delightful as well as a joy to use. Our group had the pleasure of designing a smart-phone application which would help students manage their expenses in a better way with less amount of overhead. This course imparted to us the required vocabulary, method and hands on experience on critical activities of User Centered Design process to be able to initiate and deliver world-class interfaces. The key take-away from this course was a good understanding of where design fits into the product development process.

Kusha Singh


Shreya Kumar . Sushmita Rachel Charlu . Varun Kurtkoti

Design Brief

Context Most students in colleges run their expenses on a budget. These students are given a monthly or an annually pocket money in which they need to do all their expenses and meet their requirements. In this budgeting and allocation of money, a lot of them prioritize and re-prioritize their needs, wants and desires. They continue doing this and often take up small free-lancing jobs to earn extra pocket money. objective To develop a mobile application that will help students manage their expenses in a better way with lest amount of overhead. This would also help them prioritize their needs and help them make better and smart decisions while spending money. It would enable the students to become smart money savers/spenders.

Problem Definition

Step One of defining our problem was to find its roots. Two of the major Problems which resulted in bad money management were Inability to keep accounts and Inability to separate wants from needs. Other issues arose from these, sometimes in a cyclic manner.

Problem Definition

Base Problems We are not trained to manage money at a young age. There exists a connect between financial security and emotional stability between parents and kids. Careless attitude due to total financial security and dependence on parents.

Social spending patterns influence Individual spending patterns thus defining need and value of money and commodity. Trying to Fit In. Spending too much and unnecessary money to satisfy and distract from emotional instabilty.. Bad management of money due to indulgences.

Step two involved making a list of base problem statements derived from the previous exercise. These statements were then expanded into (a) consequences of the problem and (b) results of the problem being solved.

Problem Definition

“How might we influence the spending pattern of our user by leveraging the community and its trends, in order to help user manage money more efficiently?�

Step three We used these base statement, to derive different problems from which we arrived at our final Problem Statement.

Context and concept

Money is without doubt, a quantified issue. However, our personas related money to their emotions in a very unquantifiable manner when it comes to spending. Thus the purpose of our app was to ensure that the user would be able to utilize his connections with the community to imbibe a positive spending ritual for himself. We came to a conclusion that if the whole concept of money spending was metaphorised into something abstract and immersive, it would be more appealing to the user over a long term.

Context and concept

The Constellation application keeps track of your routine movements, converts your daily routine of spending into an abstract star map or a constellation. Each star in the constellation would be a place where the user has spent money. The user can input the amount of money spent by adjusting the size of the star.

Context and concept

The user can also decide whether the spending was justified or not by picking either blue or red for the star’s aura.The constellations can be later reviewed to reflect upon money spent over a longer period of time, a week or a month. Since all the users’ constellations are displayed in the public sky, one can reflect on his own spending patterns while being conscious of where the entire community has good and bad spending.


As an app that draws the user in with immersive graphics, the ultimate achievement of the app is to make the users reflect upon their spending, encouraging them to change their unfavourable spending patterns. There is also an awareness with regard to the community spending, wherein the user constantly sees personal spending patterns in relation to that of others.

why constellation?

Referring to our persona studies, we realised that our users would not want to use an app that required them to spend a lot of time entering data, or learn elaborately about money management. Also we did not want the tone of our application to be preachy or imposing.

Hence we tried to make the application as simple as possible to both grasp and use, by keeping the number of user inputs and active screens minimal. Constellation is aimed at providing the user with visual gratification rather than incentive based gratification, the long-term return being the actual fruits of responsible spending.

usability considerations

Minimum number of buttons on screen.

The button on the right bottom corner doubles as a notifier and an instructor thoughout the application.

usability considerations

Creative touch interactions which will draw the user to play with the application without finding it tedious.

usability considerations

Optimal information displayed on a single screen.

Customisable features help input accurate information and create boundaries without being imposing.

ux business requirements

Business goal Helping users manage their allowance efficiently.

Stakeholder’s vision To make the community use this App efficiently and thereby manage money smartly, which would directly benefit the user

Technological constraints The application is for a smart phone. Limited budget for extra technological features. competition Smart Banking schemes, existing applications such as My Money Portal and My Budget Planner, personal money managers. success criteria

90% of the users do not overshoot budget consecutively. 75% of the students who have installed the App use it regularly over a long period of time (say 4 times a week)

brand objectives Srishti as a community is known to be a follower of economic sustenance and sensibilty.

ux user requirements

target users -Students living in PGs and Independent Flats -Students following an erratic work and sleep pattern. -Students who have less awareness and inclination towards managing time and money efficiently. -Students who mostly socialise within one community. needs -Saving for Emergencies-Orientation towards smart and efficient spending patterns -Compatible to individual allowances and consumption -Getting motivated with less effort -Need for social acceptance pain points -Lack of management skills -Unpredictable, unavoidable expenditures -Extensive needs key tasks

-Enter honest financial data -Use, update and reflect regularly

perceptions -The app might be authoritarian. -Loss of motivation with consistent use of the app. -Finances might be made public Aspirations -Sufficient money to spend on desires without guilt. -Be devoid of financial stress in emergencies.


Sheila Kannan Finance Head of Srishti Age: 41

“I can’t give any more money” Sheila has been working with Srishti since it opened. She used to help her aunt with the accounts in the beginning, she started working for Srishti formally when her aunt passed away a year later. Sheila lives alone in Bangalore, and her life is her work. She knows that Srishti still hasn’t paid off it’s initial loans, that’s why she hates it when someone asks for more money after a budget has been set. Goals To pay Srishti’s loans and to save money for a college savings account.

pain points Constant reallocation of limited budget.

influencers If app works courses may require less financial support and will create an ‘affordable’ brand image for college.


Jayalatta Iyengar Wellness Administrator of Srishti Age: 53

“I kill two birds with one stone” Jayalatta knows all her students and is proud of the fact that Srishti is a close knit community. She keeps track of all the students and is always aware when they fall sick or have problems. She thinks students need to learn to manage their money better as they tend to be careless. This would make them happier because they will not be broke all the time.

Goals To take care of the students well being so they are less stressed and happier.

pain points If the app doesn’t work she will be blamed. Finance department is not supportive either.

influencers If app works she thinks stress levels will go down and health will improve.


Anika Kaur Student of Srishti Age: 18

“I should have good food and all once in a while’. Anika is a 1st year student from Delhi. She comes from a well off family but has a low monthly allowance compared to her friends (Rs 4,000 average). Anika withdraws only Rs 200 at a time. But she goes through her allowance by the third week of the month and borrows from friends. She keeps accounts of everything she spends on after her allowance is over. Her father visits her every month and gives her cash to cover the debts, yet she is in debt again habitually. According to her all her problems would be solved if only her allowance was increased, as she thinks she spends only on “essentials”. Goals To have enough money for occasional indulgence.

pain points Thinks the app will be authoritarian and try to control her spending.

influencers If her friends use the app and recommend it.

Budget Rs 2,500 Expenditure Rs 4,400


Nitin Pal Student of Srishti Age: 22

“Buddies, if we miss this we’ll not get the opporrtunity again” Nitin is very social. He believes that knowledge of art culture and philosophy shape an individual. The technicalities of working are secondary, you must first be passionate about what you are doing at every moment of life. He loves going to plays and exhibitions to find new and unique things, and loves being a host as he doesn’t like being alone. Nitin doesn’t keep track of where he spends his money but tries not to withdraw more than Rs 1000 a week unless he has to go somewhere he excited about or finds something he “has to” spend on or buy. Goals To not be in debt at the end of the month.

pain points Thinks the app will be a commercial gimmick and won’t actually help.

influencers If he thinks that the app has something unique which makes it work for him.

Budget Rs 6,000 Expenditure Rs 6,500


We came up with a number of scenarios for all the problems that we wanted to solve


We then became more streamlined and chose a single problem to solve rather than trying to make our application do everything. The problem was simply that one oftern didn’t remember where most of his or her allowance was spent.

video sketching

Our video sketch was based on the theme that everything in our lives is quantified in terms of money. For example, people walking towards us who owed us money were represented by the amount of money that they owed us. Here we tried to solve the problem of keeping track of where our money went in a very literal fashion. After all, it was the community by whose influence most of our indulgant spendings were made.

concept development

at this stage we met many dead ends. Hence it was the perfect time for brainstorming. We wrote down any solution to our problem statement (however illogical they were) and later classified them into ‘saving’, ‘earning’ and ‘management’

concept development

ideas such as making a competitive game where one could use saved money to build something in a virtual world came to our minds, but it was unsettling how far-fetched the solution seemsd, and the fact that there were incentives had chances of causing the user to get too competitive, and entering dishonest data. Thus we sought for a simpler solution which was just around the bend.

concept development

observing the patterns that were made by tracking one’s daily travels gave rise to the idea of metaphorising them into constellations. This could then be an immersive and pleasurable experience rather than an application that dictated the terms of daily expenditure.

task flow

USER STORY: ‘As a student I want to learn where I spent my allowance in the coming week’

Application Architecture

task flow





Visual design

Explanatory message for first time users.

The user clicks on the logo on his homepage.


Notifier button on the bottom left tells user that he hasn’t gone anywere on January 8

The application tracks where the user goes on January 9.

Visual design

When it comes across a place that ten others in the community have tagged... asks him if he wants to tag the location. He taps on the arrow.

It gives him the choice of choosing the number in multiples of which he is likely to spend at the location.

Tagged places are activated.

Keypad pops up and he enters the name.

When the user returns home on January 9, he looks at the app to recall where he has been.

Visual design

He adjusts the amount of expenditure at each place

He can then know the amounts he spent by the size of each star in the constellation.

by pulling inward or out with his thumb and index.

He can view weekly spending at each location by long pressing on each star.

He chooses red to indicate bad spending and blue for good spending.

Visual design

He can then return to his constellation.

Options menu

He can view “cluster� by pinching inwards.

The user can choose stars he wants to be alerted about when he goes to that location.

This shows statistics of how much he spent at each place that week.

Red stars will pulse as warning when the user approaches that place.

Visual design Visual design

He can edit names, spending multiple of stars by choosing “edit” from options.

In “public sky” he can view the constellations of all the other people in his community.

He does not see any details other than the colourful clusters of stars which tells him where the community is spending well.

He has the option of setting the public sky as his home-screen or screen saver.

what could have been better?

More refined Visual Design. Better definition for good and bad spending. More minimalism to enhance immersive experience. More Professional Presentation. Better group coordination.


Kusha I really enjoyed this course for a lot of reasons. The quality of work that was expected and the constant critique till we felt like we nailed it. At the same time, the course gave us the freedom to go completely crazy with ideations so that we got out of the box insights and solutions to the problems we were dealing with. Shreya I really love how this course taught me so many new things! I had the opportunity to try my hand at visual communication and I realised it wasn’t all that difficult, just very different from anything I had ever done before. I feel that the brilliant feedback from our facilitators at every level helped us push ourselves to do our best. Sushmita ‘Designing an app’ was a phrase that made my head spin a month ago. But I could not have learnt enough about it in this course! Modules such as user and business requirement analysis, wireframing and prototyping, alongside meeting top designers from the industry gave me a very real glimpse at what it means to be an interphase designer.


Sometimes, going haywire helps, and in our case while exploring the underlying problem, we did just that. It was satisfying from the perspective of one who is trying to get a grasp on new concepts to make use of a conglomeration of user-centred design principles in making a final prototype.

special thanks to our facilitators

Atul Saraf, Arnab Chakravarty, Juhi Singh and Naveen L. Bagalkot

Front End Design:Money Management App  
Front End Design:Money Management App  

Process of a Mobile Application for Money Management