James Lorentson UX Design
HERO iPhone 8 Angle 2.png

USAA Money Manager Feature


USAA Bank Mobile App Feature

Adding a 'Money Manager' feature for USAA's existing mobile app.



The Challenge


The USAA Mobile App gives members immediate and secure account access from their mobile device.  Members can pay bills, transfer funds, investments, and insurance.  They’d like to further develop the app to help people see and manage their income, expenses and savings in more meaningful ways. 


Design Process

7 Magnifier Search Key Word Seo Promotion Marketing.1.png



7 Responsive Monitor Website Phone Interface Page Design.1.png


3 Analytics Program Page Chat Graph Interface Monitoring.1.png

Test & iterate




cspClientLogo@2x-USAA (1).png

Since 1922, USAA Bank has served the military community and their families offering worldwide insurance, investing, banking and other financial services.  As one of the largest banks in the U.S., USAA wants to use their reach to improve the financial health of their members. 

Their current mobile app is very well rated, but very basic in functionality.  The features that they are offering focus primarily on spending and making payments.  USAA would like to round out their offerings by providing users with personalized features that allow them to manage their personal finances.

Adding features to an existing Design

The high level design goals were to design a new personal financial management feature that embeds smoothly within the current style and flow.  Working with an existing product means digging into and trying to understand the choices a company made, and building onto that thought process in an additive way.

Before adding features, it is important to validate our existing assumptions.  And I do that with research!


Research Plan


  1. Familiarize myself with current trends in mobile financial management.
  2. Understand if personal management feature is appealing and to whom.

User Interviews 

  1. Understand how people currently manage their finances.
  2. Identify potential customers' financial management needs.
  3. Understand any obstacles stopping people from using financial management apps. 
  4. Ascertain people’s perceptions on most important components of a financial management feature.

Competitor Analysis

  1.  Familiarize myself with strengths and weaknesses of competitor mobile bank app UIs and offerings.
  2. Gain inspiration from within/out the industry.


Measures of Mobile Banking Use     Source: Survey of Household Economics and Decision making (SHED), Survey of Consumers' Use of Mobile Financial Services (Mobile Survey), FDIC Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households (FDIC Survey).

Measures of Mobile Banking Use

Source: Survey of Household Economics and Decision making (SHED), Survey of Consumers' Use of Mobile Financial Services (Mobile Survey), FDIC Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households (FDIC Survey).

  • More than 40% of Millennials are completely reliant on a mobile banking app.
  • Consumers use their smartphones to research financial decisions.
  • 62% of mobile banking users checked their account balance on their phone before making a large purchase

from Banking to financial management

  • Big shift to using mobile apps for more than checking balances.
  • There's a growing number of customers paying for goods and services using their mobile devices.

Competitor Analysis

I started researching other banking apps, but soon realized that the real competition lay outside the industry with the dedicated personal financial management apps.  I grouped and analyzed them and then downloaded to discover their UI, strengths and weaknesses.

USAA (Competitive Analysis).png


User Interviews

I interviewed 4 participants who use mobile banking apps to varying degrees.


  • used some type of online payment service like Venmo or PayPal
  • have bank accounts



  • have done some form of financial planning
  • have used some type of software or site
  • have retirement accounts


  • used mobile banking apps previously to help manage their finances (both Mint).


  • People budget their money to reach their financial goals and control spending.
  • People sometimes need help budgeting their money and establishing financial goals.
  • One of the reasons saving is important is for unexpected emergencies.
  • While people do budget regularly, they stay on top of their finances more when they have big purchases or major life events that require spending a large amount of money
  • Users share feelings of uncertainty about how to plan and how much they should be saving.

App Specific takeaways

  • Security is important when using 3rd party apps to budget finances.
  • Alerts are nice.  People have trouble remembering to check their budgeting apps weekly. 
  • Automation features were reported as very important. People don’t want to have to manually enter a lot of info.

Define & Iterate


Potential Design Ideas

Mood board


  • Spending habit analysis. 
  • Personal budgeting tools and calculators. 
  • Monitor progress toward personal goals. 
  • Visual aids to assist users in conceptualizing and understanding short-and long-term goals that are paired with spending. 
  • Alerts. 
  • Round-up saving. 




From the research data and interview findings, we create, Eric.

USAA Persona@2x.png

Journey Map


Journey maps combine the power of an empathy map with a temeline - essentially mapping out emotions as users interact with a product over time.


Existing Screens


Before diving into the design phase, I took some time with USAA’s current apps to serve as a framework.  iOS and Android both used a card based layout, but they have some other subtle differences.


App Flow

Now, let’s take a look at the basic flow a user takes while using the app and see where it makes the most sense to add our new budgeting features.

I learned from the research that “out of sight” is “out of mind.”  Because of that, it will be worth considering how we can re-design the flow and interface so that users have a better big picture view of their financial situation, not just their accounts.

I’ll be working on the Android platform, but will make sure that the designs could be easily implemented within each platform after user testing.


App Map


Next, it is a matter of mapping out the current app and deciding where our new features would best fit.

App Map.png

Feature Prioritization



Finally, I take all of the above and rank our proposed feature and element ideas.




Style Guide



Typically when working on a feature-add for an existing build, the design team will provide a style library.  In this case, it was important to create a quick style guide to make sure that the new features will mesh cohesively with the current app.









In a case where you have existing screens and existing style and UI, you can go right into mid/high fidelity.



Test & Iterate


Usability Testing

Now it is time to get these new features into the hands of our target users to get some feedback and gauge their interactions and experiences.

After recruiting some participants, I lay out a series of tasks and questions that will access the usability of the new features.



  • Flow through the site went well.
  • Most feedback was visual in nature.
  • General idea of feature well-received.


  • Create more priority with buttons.
  • Rework colors to be more cohesive and help support priority and weighting.
  • Consider some type of breadcrumbs.
  • Consider adding menu fly-out to prototype.
  • Redesign pill modules with more space and add shadows to visually communicate that they are clickable.


After making the recommended changes, I updated the prototype.




Working from an existing platform has less flexibility than building an app from a blank slate.  But constraint is the mother of all creativity and design!