Family Planner

Andrea Sinkpon, engineering design graduate student, designed prototype for family finances planner at the 2017 Design Thinking Week

07/24/17

As a member of team five, Sinkpon began the design process by evaluating life events such as pregnancy, purchasing a home, a first job, a car accident and engagement and marriage, all of which cause people to make important financial decisions. The team chose to focus on two groups – young adults experiencing the financial world for the first time and young families or single mothers.

To better understand these two subsets of financial world users, the team broke into two groups for interviewing. Group one interviewed young families at their homes, at a family café in Berlin or via phone and Skype. Group two interviewed young adults on the HPI campus, a library and the Mensa, a cafeteria. Both groups tried to reach out to people in extreme life situations relating to financial decisions.  

Group one created two empathy prototypes, as empathy is considered to be an important tool in user experience. The first tool, the Book of Life, used life events to evoke emotions through reflection. The second tool used cards and foam plastic pieces to showcase expenses related to life with children. Group two used empathy cards with both negative and positive life events to question about events that led to a need for financial advice.

After completing interviews, Sinkpon’s team worked to discover patterns from the stories told by both interviewee subsets. Common themes included changes in the financial ecosystem after the birth of a child, little to no discussion about finances in young families, differences in wages causes issues when determining contributions and misunderstandings of financial topics. 

“Designers need to learn about collaboration in a fast paced environment,” Sinkpon said. “The collaborative nature of events like this allows designer to be more creative.” 

Her team used silent brainstorming to generate “how to” (H2) questions from its members’ point of view and insight to pair with interview information for concept ideation. The team also visited other teams to search for additional ideas. After combining H2 ideas and concepts from their “shopping” experience, team five created three idea clusters. This allowed team members to find recurring themes that could be used to design a prototype to combine gamification, a family-focus and standard banking functions.

Users tested the prototype and provided feedback to Sinkpon’s team, which the team classified into four categories – what worked, what was missing, new questions and new ideas. Of the recommendations for “Family Planner Version 2.0,” the most important included simplifying the prototype and focusing on the wow factors of the application – only one application is needed to use the family account; after sending an invite, partners can use one account; and its ease of use and uncomplicated, stress-free nature.

“Being in a fast pace engineering design setting allowed me to learn a little bit more about how my brain operates and how it prefers to solve problems. This new environment was an adventure with moments of great inspiration and moments of uncertainties,” Sinkpon said. “I learned about many new methods of practicing design think and brainstorming and how to use new tools for prototyping.”

 

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Samantha Chavanic

smh5218@engr.psu.edu

“Being in a fast pace engineering design setting allowed me to learn a little bit more about how my brain operates and how it prefers to solve problems. This new environment was an adventure with moments of great inspiration and moments of uncertainties."

 
 

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The School of Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP) delivers effective engineering education through active, collaborative, project-based, and professionally oriented classroom experiences. SEDTAPP offers a variety of programs that partner faculty, students, and industry in the study of real-life engineering problems. Our programs teach students to solve real-life problems with innovative solutions. 

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