Venmore is an exploration that sparked from my recent involvement with fundraising as a student at Virginia Tech. For this project, I set out to discover why students do or do not donate to charities and how I could improve their overall experience.
Time: Fall 2019
Duration: 4 -5 weeks
Skills: UX/UI, Research, Wireframing, Prototyping, User Testing, Design Systems, High Fidelity Visual Design, Motion, Illustration
Tools: Sketch, Illustrator, After Effects
At Virginia Tech, our school motto is Ut Prosim, which translates to That I May Serve. Helping the local New River Valley community has continuously been a large focus of our campus. There are a plethora of opportunities that encourage the student body to get involved in supporting charities such as The Big Event and Relay For Life. Although there is a large emphasis on implementing opportunities such as these, a majority of donations or fundraisers shared come from parents or alumni.
While it can be simple to get students to share and promote a fundraiser (especially in an age where technology is prevalent), it is difficult to get them to actually donate. Every "share" helps, however imagine the impact we can make if we shared and donated.
The “broke college student” lifestyle is relevant and real. How can we get them to care and donate? How might that experience be integrated in a fast, easy, and reliable way for students?
Show students that giving back is easy. Venmore, a concept feature for Venmo, reintroduces that donating to a charitable cause can be as simple as a tap of a button. This feature was inspired by physical experiences at grocery and retail stores, where a customer is given the option to donate at check-out. With Venmore, users can connect their account to a charity they care about and receive donations towards their cause through payment requests.
What is Venmo and what sets it apart?
Venmo is a casual, peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile payment app that allows for quick transfers between family and friends. You can easily split the bill, cab fare, and much more. Amongst all the existing mobile payment options, Venmo stands out through its ease of use with its target demographic, Millennials and Generation Z users. The app has made payment processes for money owed between friends into a casual and friendly experience. Unlike its parent company, PayPal, Venmo is a mobile-first service designed for smaller fund transfers with social aspect given the visibility of transfers.
"Venmo has married the social element and the financial element, which no one else has been able to crack.” - Josh Criscoe, Venmo spokesman
Why choose Venmo for this project?
The app is easy to use and is familiar amongst the target demographic. Aside from this however, Venmo's unique social aspect has Millennials and Generation Z talking about the app as a form of payment constantly, coining the phrase "Venmo me." As technology continues to advance, mobile payment methods are projected to increase significantly in use amongst Millennials, Generation Z, and future generations.
86% of college students use mobile payment apps according to a Sallie Mae study. This is an increase from 2018, where 77% of college students used mobile payment apps.
In 2019, 79% of Generation Z respondents use P2P payment platforms to pay someone as least one time each month, 47% use these platforms 1-5 times a month, and 32% use them 6+ times a month. A recent survey also found that Generation Z consumers are significantly more interested in instant P2P payment methods than any other age group at 68%.
Within the first three months of 2019, Venmo's total payments on its platform rose to 73%, or $21.3 billion. As of August 2019, Venmo was reported to have 40 million annual users across the United States.
To begin my user research process, I conducted interviews and created a survey to help guide design decisions and gain insight on peoples' experiences with donating to charities. I interviewed six students and distributed the survey across student facebook groups and received a total of 180 responses within the week.
• 97.7% of respondents were between the ages for 18-24
• 97.1% of respondents have used Venmo one time or more
• 89.1% of respondents have donated to a charity one time or more
Below are some notable and frequent responses from the survey that helped me develop user and design goals.
In addition to the overall user and Venmo research, I took a look at other current apps' UI patterns with an integrated donation feature. Specifically, I focused my research on what makes Instagram, Facebook, and AmazonSmile's charity/fundraising feature intuitive and looked into other various factors that make it stand out. This helped my design process by giving me a better understanding on how new, yet seamless experiences are integrated
within social platforms.
In 2019, Instagram launched its "Donate" sticker available for instagram stories. While there isn't much insight yet to the feature since it is new, there are some interesting details to how the sticker currently functions.
• Only available for stories
• Button expires after 24 hours, similar to stories
• Nonprofits can pre-set their donation minimum at $5
• When a user taps "Donate," they are taken to an external web browser page
Facebook launched a "Donate" button in 2013 and fundraising pages in 2015. The button exists on a non-profit's page and allows users to donate without leaving Facebook. Fundraising pages are dedicated pages to an entire cause and like the "Donate" button, keeps users within Facebook.
• “The best part of this new feature is that all the information about a fundraising campaign
is in one place, rather than spread out across the News Feed or on an external website.”
• $2 billion raised for nonprofits and personal causes since launch in 2015
• 45 million people have donated or started a birthday fundraiser
Amazon smile is a website generated by Amazon with the exact same experience and products as amazon, except when you shop at smile.amazon.com, 0.5% of your purchase is donated towards a charity of your choice.
• Must purchase through smile.amazon.com. Amazon and mobile app purchases do not apply
• No cost to charities or customers--100% of donation from purchases goes towards charity
• Since 2013, AmazonSmile has supported close to one million charities and has donated over $156 million as of November 2019
After analyzing the research I discovered from Venmo, other apps, and user surveys and interviews, I created three overarching goals that helped lay the foundation before beginning the design process.
1) Ensure a non-disruptive and easy experience
The Venmo app is praised for its ease-of-use. One hundred percent of the respondents who use currently Venmo said that it is their primary form of sending money and "paying people back" because of its simple experience. When thinking about a potential new experience in the app, how might it be implemented in a way that does not frustrate users or deter them
far from the main goal of the product?
2) Show that even a small amount makes a large difference
For respondents that have never donated or have donated very few times, the most
common reason was due to financial instability. For respondents that have donated before and donated frequently, the most common reasons were being able to see the impact and because it was "just a dollar." Additionally, 94.3% of respondents cared most about knowing where their money is going when donating to a cause. How can this experience inform students about the impact they can make with "just a dollar" and show them that regardless of the money amount, they can make a difference?
3) Add value to existing social feed
Although the social aspect of Venmo is what makes it unique, very few of the survey respondents actually use it. The social feed, or "home" screen on the Venmo app, acts as a way for users to see transactions between people from all over the world, their friends, and their own transactions. When conducting user interviews, all of the interviewees thought that although it did make the app experience feel casual, they did not care to see other people's transactions. The social feed is the landing screen of the app and requires users to go through another flow to pay and request payments. With the feed being the home screen, how can we make better use of it with a donation feature?
With the research results and overall goals in mind, I created a site map that included how an existing user might be introduced to the launch of the donation feature when they open the Venmo app. The site map follows a new onboarding process of the feature, followed by two primary actions for the user--Get Started or Exit. I primarily focused on developing and figuring out how the new onboarding structure could fit into Venmo's existing structure.
I then created digital wireframes that followed the site map to test the onboarding flow. Since Venmo is well known for is ease-of-use, it was important to ensure that the onboarding process was intuitive for users and did not feel disruptive. I tasked five testers to complete the onboarding flow and recorded their responses. While most believed that the process felt smooth, there were areas that needed refining before continuing to the high fidelity design.
1) Unnecessary confirmation after selecting a charity
Four out of five testers believed that the fourth step felt redundant. They believed that if
someone wanted to select a different charity or selected the wrong charity, they would tap out of the charity detail screen to go back to the previous page. They also thought that the check mark on the "Charity Selected - Confirmation" screen made it seem like multiple charities could be selected, which was not the case.
2) Misunderstanding of "Select Payment Options" screen
All of the testers did not know that they were able to select up to three options. They were
also slightly confused by what each option meant and wanted to learn more about them.
3) Copy confusion
Because this was a new feature for Venmo, it was important to make sure that the user could understand its function, especially during onboarding. While user testing, I noticed confusion and hesitation while reading the testers were reading the copy on the screens.
While refining the wireframes I began thinking about the high fidelity process and started with looking at Venmo's brand. In 2019, Venmo underwent a visual identity redesign by Koto and Sebastian Curi. This new identity along with its illustrations "bring to life all the many experiences behind Venmo payments, from road trips to ramen" and is meant to "better reflect the true spirit of the brand, match the energy of their users and the experiences they share, and to tell the full Venmo story in more creative ways." Although the new styles have been integrated into social media and various marketing experiences such as ads and banners, it has yet to be implemented into Venmo's mobile app. The current app still follows the company's previous visual brand as of December 2019. With creating an onboarding process for a charity donation feature, I took this opportunity to apply Venmo's new visual brand into the feature as well as exploring how they could be integrated with the existing app.
I was inspired by Sebastian Curi's illustrations for Venmo's identity and attempted to design closely to his style when creating visuals for onboarding. Along with applying the illustration style, I selected colors from Venmo's new palette and chose an alternative font that fit and that I had access to. I also refined the app's current icons to follow the redesign's friendly feel. In addition to creating new assets, I explored how the visual identity could live in Venmo's current app.
I kept in mind the three goals I generated from the research results for the final design. These goals helped drive my design decisions and ultimately helped me carry out Venmore, an onboarding and in-app experience that would allow users to connect a charity of their choice to their Venmo account and receive donations towards their charity with payment requests.
1) Ensure a non-disruptive and easy experience
2) Show that even a small amount makes a large difference
3) Add value to existing social feed
When an existing user opens Venmo for the first time after Venmore has launched, the user will be greeted with a friendly animation encouraging the user to "Get Started" on setting up donation requests. Once they "Get Started," the user will be able to choose a non-profit and view relevant details such as the mission statement, images of the people they could be helping, and know what their donations would go towards. Then, the user may select what options their friends and family see when requesting a payment. After a user completes the onboarding flow, a closing animation will appear to thank them with the option "View Profile" or exit using the close icon.
After onboarding, the Venmo app structure remains the same to keep familiarity with the existing flows. For quick access, the user can see their impact in the hamburger menu under their profile image, and tap on it to view the full profile screen. The user may view their profile to keep track of their donation progress and see transactions of those who have contributed from the onboarding flow or from the hamburger menu on the home screen. All donors are marked with a star icon on the social feed as well as the profile feed. The charity can be changed at any time under "View Details" on their profile page. For more details, the user can press "View Details" and see in-depth information on their charity, their impact, total impact of all Venmo users, and donor transactions. "View Details" will also share in-depth information on their charity, their impact, total impact of all Venmo users, and donor transactions.
A user can view their payment requests under the "Notifications" tab, like the current Venmo app. If their family or friends have set up Venmore, the user will be able to receive requests with the feature and view more about the organization their friends are supporting. The payment requests with Venmore use a similar button structure, where the primary action is to pay the actual amount owed and the secondary action is to donate an additional amount along with the amount owed.
If a user closes the modal instead of continuing the onboarding flow, they will be directed to the home screen of Venmo and can find more information in the hamburger menu. Even if the user has not completed their Venmore profile, they are able to do so under the "Venmore" tab in the menu. The user can also see those who have contributed to other people's causes on their home social feed. The second time this user opens Venmo, an in-app notification for Venmore will appear as a reminder.
Creating designs for Venmore challenged me to integrate a new idea into an app with an already established structure. At first, it was difficult to start. What if the feature was too disruptive to Venmo's already easy-to-use interface? This was my first attempt at placing a new feature in an existing product and interestingly, it lead me to use different research methods than I had in the past.
Although the project initially sparked from my personal experience with charity and fundraising, conducting research gave my further insight into other peoples' experiences and how I could make it better for them. Along with trying new approaches to research, conducting the user testing was also quite different from my previous projects, as the user only had one task: to connect to a charity through the onboarding flow. The user being able
to smoothly complete this task was crucial and was the ultimate goal during usability testing.
Creating a new flow for Venmo was both fun and challenging. It gave me the opportunity to implement their new visual identity into the app with onboarding. Though I was hesitant to apply these new styles, I challenged myself to think of what the future of Venmo might look like and what that experience could be for their target demographic. I explored ways Venmo could extend their visual brand into their current app with its existing flows, as their great UX is one of the reasons why people use it consistently.
In the future, I'd like to do more user testing to see if this feature could truly work with Venmo. I'm curious as to what people think of the new visual integration as well, and if they still feel like the app is easy to use. I'm also interested in seeing if non-profits would benefit from a feature like this and if this would be something they would want to take part in.
One major factor to consider for the future is that Venmo only allows you to link U.S. bank accounts and phone numbers. This could affect many non-profits that do not have a U.S. location and potential users might not be inclined to connect to the feature if a charity they care about cannot be represented through Venmore.