Project Overview


Project Timeline: 2 weeks

Target Device: IOS mobile app

The Process: Research, Synthesize, Design, Iterate, Deliver

My Role: UX Researcher and Designer. My three teammates and I all shared in each step of the process, although I was largely responsible for the final high-fidelity wireframes. 



The Challenge

“Venmo wants to offer options for social impact. Design user flows that allow users to browse, search and submit “causes” they care about, as well as promote their causes and give to causes. Think about how to leverage the social aspect of Venmo to encourage giving, while integrating this feature into an iOS native app on an iPhone.”


Solution Overview



  1. Competitive/Comparative Analysis

  2. Defining Primary Research Candidates

  3. Screener Survey

  4. Inverviews


1. Competitive/Comparative Analysis

During the research phase of this project, we looked at other related apps such as the “Cash App,” which is a payment service and Facebook which has a fundraiser section. We focused most on Facebook, as it already a function similar to what we were creating. We returned to Facebook many times during the process of design and iteration.

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 4.55.19 PM.png

2. Defining who we wanted to interview 

Before jumping into the design, we wanted to know the needs and goals of those who would be using the feature we designed. We knew we couldn’t interview just anyone, so we defined who our target group was. We decided they needed to be Venmo users, and needed to have previously given to charities through social media.


3. Screener survey 

We created a screener survey designed to find this primary group to interview. We posted it on social media and sent it to our friends. Out of the 39 people who took the survey, 9 of them fit our target and were willing to talk to use about their experiences with Venmo and giving to charities.



4. Interviews

Each team member interviewed 2-3 people, totaling nine interviewees. We asked them questions related the following areas:

  • discovering a cause

  • donating to a cause

  • creating a cause

  • sharing a cause


Research Synthesis

We made sense of the insights and observation from our interviews with the following three tools:

  1. Affinity Map

  2. Personas

  3. Problem Statement


1. Affinity Map

To create an affinity map we wrote goals, motivations, behaviors and frustrations from the interviews on post-it notes, and grouped them under “I statements” such as “I want to know more about the cause before I donate,” which summarized each group of insights and observations.


2. Persona Generation

We took the overarching insights and observations from the affinity map and reassembled them to create two personas. The behaviors, habits, needs, and goals of these personas reflect those of the people we interviewed. Having these personas gave us an readily accessible point of reference for design arguments and decisions.

I want to be sure the money is going to the cause they say they are trying to help.
If their story really strikes me, I’ll donate to that cause.

3. Problem Statement

Our project goal was further focused by creating the following Problem Statement:

"People who use Venmo and social media are also concerned about social causes and want to contribute to them financially.

Madison is concerned about making sure the money she sends to causes is used well and the attention is on the cause instead of herself. How might we provide an easier way for her to find, share, and donate to the causes she cares about?


Design Process

Our initial design process was done in 5 steps:

  1. Three Rounds of “Design Studio” with rough sketches

  2. Feature Prioritization

  3. Whiteboard User Flows

  4. Clean wireframe sketches

  5. Mid-Fidelity wireframes made with Sketch


1. Design Studios

The four of us brainstormed by drawing our ideas of a particular function (like “browse charities”). We took turns presenting our ideas, which the rest of the team then critiqued. With the critique and ideas we like from other team members in mind, we went back to our drawings and came up with a new design to present. After we all presented for a second time, we decided which feature to implement.

The Personas ended up being extremely helpful in the design process. We felt we knew these “people” we created and were able to advocate for design decisions by saying things like “…but Madison would want to be able to make sure the campaign is legitimate.”

design studiovenmo.jpeg

2. Feature Prioritization

After the features had been discussed and designed, we knew we needed to pair down and decide which features were most important and easy to implement. We charted our features with these two methods of prioritization.

MoSCoW Method

MoSCoW Method

Need vs. Effort Method

Features We Prioritized

●  Donate privately

●  Promote/share

●  Info button on causes

●  Choose frequency of donation

●  Friends next to causes when browsing

●  Browse in current feed

●  Donate button on post


3. Whiteboard User Flows

The features that we decided to use, we drew on whiteboards as user flows to make sure our designs actually made sense in a use scenario. This whiteboard flow shows how a user would find then donate to a charity.


4. Clean Sketches

Once we had flows and rough sketches, we turned them into clean sketches.The examples to the right show screens that would be included in the flow of making a donation to an organization through Venmo.


5. Mid-Fidelity Wireframes

The clean sketches were easily turned into mid-fidelity/grayscale wireframes of what the Venmo app might look like with the new features.


Usability Testing & Iteration

Now for the fun part. Do users actually understand the app? Can they navigate it easily?

Usability Testing

  • 3 Rounds of Testing

  • 5 Participants per Round

  • 3 Task Scenarios



Task 1: You’re looking to use Venmo to make a donation to a charity.

Find a cause to donate to in Venmo.

Make that donation privately.

Make a donation once a month.


Task 2: You’re looking to run a campaign for your favorite charity

Create a fundraiser in Venmo.

Share that fundraiser with your friends via social media.

Task 3: You’re browsing Venmo looking at your news feed.

Find a charity.

Discover more information about that charity.



Our designs changed between rounds of testing based on the users' reactions. The comments below are examples of these changes.



Final Thoughts

Teamwork: I found this team functioned extremely well. Some key elements were everyone’s positive attitudes, growth mindsets, and willingness to put maximum effort into every step of the process.

Second Persona vs. Secondary Persona: At the end of the project, it was pointed out by one of our instructors that we had ignored a type of user. We created two personas that were very similar, based on our research, but we completely overlooked the user who would be the charities themselves (Ex. “Salvation Army” would have an account). Looking back, we should have recognized this user at the beginning of the process and expanded our screener survey criteria to include these users.