2021: If I were @AC / fantasy Dozens app designs!

It’s coming up to the end of the year, and I thought a bit of a forward-look on Dozens and Project Imagine would be useful.

2021 will be very much a make-or-break year, probably more so than 2020. Getting investment will be critical. I think that it will very much be a year where the company soars (fingers crossed) or where, sadly, it falls apart.

With that in mind, here’s a bit of a ‘what would I do if I were @AC’ piece. I don’t have his background and insight, or more practically the data at his disposal. And I’m leaving to one side somewhat obvious big-ticket items like ‘get PI1 clients’ and ‘secure investment’’. But with all those caveats, here are what I think would be my priorities:

  1. Bring tech in-house. This isn’t about hiring a rock-star CTO, but instead making sure that you have total control, resilience and flexibility over all parts of the stack. And moving to multi-disciplinary teams where all parts of the business have (for example) embedded engineers and data scientists in them.

  2. Think carefully and innovatively about potential PI1 business models. I’ve written a bit about this before, but I think there are a number of different markets that would be very accessible. To take one sector as an example: small building societies that don’t have their own apps - use PI1 as a means to offer existing products via an app (savings, mortgages etc); medium-sized building societies that don’t offer current accounts - flexibility here for these to be branded as the building society with the balance sheet and/or support provided by PI or the building society… Couple these with a marketplace play in Dozens to resell savings and mortgage products, and bring everything together in open banking. Money coming in and job’s a good-un. Explore SaaS type models (£2/customer serviced / month etc).

  3. Overhaul the Dozens app. This means 1) streamlining and making it less busy; 2) recognising that day-to-day spend is different to committed spend, and managing them separately; 3) stopping giving users data and starting to give them insights; 4) bringing together financial wellness / net worth in one place.

So let’s unpack C a bit:

  1. Make the app less cluttered and busy. When I speak to folk who’ve tried Dozens they almost universally say the app is “too busy”, “too complex” or that there’s “too much going on”. This doesn’t mean getting rid of the functionality - it’s about focusing on the user experience and really whittling that down. A bit of white space, and focus on what the outcome of different parts of the app is meant to be, is good too! (I have no skin in the game, and don’t know this person, but an audit from someone like https://builtformars.com/* would be useful).

  2. I really love the spender-saver-investor journey. But something is missing: spending isn’t really one thing, it’s (at least) two. Money management, and fintech, forums are littered with comments about wanting more than one account - usually one for spending money and one for bills. Starling has decided to monetise an additional account (but aside from the extra fee doesn’t offer anything over and above a high street bank); Monzo has tried to innovate its way out of the problem (firstly with Summary and left to spend, which was better than nothing, then wide of the mark, then with bills pots, which provided the actual separation that folk wanted, but only for standing orders and direct debits); Bunq just throws multiple (sub) accounts at you (which I’ve never used, but seem to be more integrated than Starling’s lacklustre offering). I think Dozens is uniquely placed to crack this: a separation between committed spend and day-to-day spend.

  3. Stop giving users data and start to give them insights they can use to take action. I was really attracted to the bits in Dozens are are unique: the visuals tab in spend, the track tab. But (and maybe this is just because I’m not using Dozens as my current account) at the moment it’s just data. I can’t really take any actions off the back of it. What I want to know are things like Can I save money on my bills? How will behavioural changes lead to financial changes? What discretionary spend can I clamp down on? How do I model my future wealth? I think the key to this is to be explicit that there are three things: 1) Analytics from previous periods - what have I been spending and where etc. The app is already one of the best at doing this. 2) Using this data to budget for future months. I’m not really a budgeter, so don’t like the strict way that the app does it at the moment, but would be keen to know average spend/day, average daily spend left, etc. 3) Modelling and projection. Taking both previous sets of data, this works both monthly and on a longer period: If I cut out spending on X, what does my projected balance look like? If I invested £50/month what does that do to my spending, but also longer term investment? How does it affect my overall financial wellness? How long to save for a house? What about if I used a LISA?

  4. Bringing together financial wellness and (current/future) net worth in one place. Dozens is more than a spending app, so a focus on the macro picture, with the ability to drill-down into the different stages of the journey is what is, I think, needed. I think this is coming with Dozens v2, but a better way to see all of your finances together, your net wealth and - importantly - options to improve them. Hopefully some of them would make Dozens some money, too!

*For the first time, I’ve just discovered that the person behind this is called Peter. No relation, I assure you. Nor (he says trying to tug his face off) is it I.

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So up there :arrow_up:, I’ve written a bit about what I’d do if I were AC. As part of that, and having thought (quite) a bit about the Dozens app, I thought it might be fun to have a bit of a mock-up of what the app could look like.

I’ll start by saying that you’ll (pretty quickly) realise that I’m not a graphic designer! So these are just concept ideas. I’ve tried to balance two things: bringing in more power to the app whilst making it more streamlined. I fear I’ve failed on the second.

As concepts, I’m not saying these are right or, more importantly, the Dozens team has got it wrong. Strange as it might seem, this is just a bit of an occasional hobby. The most I think it can do is to start a bit of a conversation about the future of the app. It’s certainly not a demand for specific change!

With all that said are you ready? Then let’s dive in!

Let’s start with the overall look, feel and navigation. I’ve tried to keep pretty much to the Dozens we know and love, but using what will (probably) be the new Dozens 2.0 tab bars:

I’ve not worked up ideas for them all, but over a few posts I’ll take us through the bits that I have had a play with.

So, up first is the Home tab:

I’ve turned the Home Tab into a Financial Wellness Centre. It’s made up of two bits:

The top section has graphs and overviews - there are three of these in total so is swipeable:

The first one shows your net worth over time. Green for assets (so savings and property, for example) and the black line is for debt - the idea is for green to be above black and growing all the time! I’ve also thought of it as being ‘scrubbable’ - so the dotted line on the right in this picture moves as your finger moves, and so do the figures in the bottom left (a bit like the old Monzo Pulse graph, for those that remember that).

The second one is a simple pie chart showing your breakdown of Spend, Grow and Invest (across all accounts) - basically a bigger version of the ‘Your money’ section in ‘Your Profile’.

The third one is the breakdown that you currently see in the app when you tap ‘View details’ from the ‘Your money’ section of ‘Your profile’.

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Let’s pick back up at the bottom half of the Home tab.

To properly feed the info we’ve seen above, we need all of your financial info, right? This is where the bottom half of the screen comes in. It’s tabbed, so there are three sections (a bit like on the current spend screen where you can flip between List and Visuals):

We’ll get to Benchmark and Advice later, because Accounts is where the action is at!

This is a categorised list of all your assets and debts, in one place. The arrows can roll-up or break-down sections, but are meant to reflect the colours and approach currently in the app in the Your Money bit of Your Profile. (I was in two minds about breaking down Grow and Invest between effectively ISAs and non-ISAs. I think I’m regretting it now).

If we break it down, we can see this (fictional) person’s financial picture in one place:

I’d envisage most of these being connected by open banking or other APIs. Interestingly, there are some property APIs out there that mean that you could theoretically keep property assets updated, too. But you’d always need to be able to manually enter figures because alas not everywhere is APIed up (technical term). I haven’t shown screens for connecting or removing accounts, but I imagine it’d be from this home-screen somewhere.

Tapping on an account would take you to the right place in the app to see more: either Spend (filtered for that account), Grow, Invest or Borrow.

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What about the other parts of the new Home tab? Breakdown and Advice are my attempts to bring actionable data to the app. Breakdown seeks to show how your split between Spend, Grow and Invest compares to a) a similar cohort of people to you (‘Benchmark’), to a good practice split (‘Recommended’) and to everyone using the app (‘Everyone’). Privacy would be key though - anonymised data with user consent only to create the benchmarks.

So we’re beginning to build up a picture of financial wellness compared to others. But are there specific actions that can be taken? That’s where Advice comes in:

The idea being that the app uses the data it holds to understand your outgoings, make suggestions and to give you a virtual pat on the head when things are going well. There’s also a big possibility for Dozens to make some money by introductory fees here, too - or potentially just collaborating with an established price-comparison brand.

So that’s the new Home tab - all about financial wellness!

Next up… Spend Tab!

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Let’s move on to Spend.

A few words before we get stuck in. I’ve gone off on a bit of a flight of fancy here and have tried to decouple the card from the account. In simple terms, this means that (in this fictional scenario) the Dozens cards can work like Curve cards. If an external account is connected to Dozens then the Dozens card can spend from it.

You’ll have also guessed from the Home tab, and from that intro, that open banking is here - and I’ve gone big on it!

Here’s the revised Spend Screen when you open it up:

At the top, we have the two Dozens cards and you can see clearly which accounts they’re linked to for spending purposes. Not a fan of the cards at the top? A flick up will roll up the account information to the top of the screen and hide the cards:

But back to the cards themselves. Tapping one brings up the usual card controls, but also a simple way to change the account that the card is linked to:

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If we turn back to the Spend screen, below the cards is the currently selected account. In this example, Dozens is showing a Nationwide current account - you can see the essentials (sort code, account number and balance) clearly.

You can tap the arrow, or the name/logo to change to another account:

In this example, we’ve only got two accounts to choose from. And you can select more than one - so an aggregate feed of all accounts is possible if you wanted to see that.

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Back to the main Spend screen, and you’ll have noticed that the tabs in the bottom section have grown in number:

This is partially to compensate for the Track tab going bye-bye, and partially to be clearer about what’s where.

The List tab is pretty much unchanged from now.

The Visuals tab has been pared down to just the visuals - currently there’s other data in there that fits (I think) more neatly elsewhere:

The Top tab is new, and takes some of the data that used to be in Visuals but makes it easier to find. As you (hopefully) expect from the name, the tab gives you your top spends, retailers and categories in a given period:

Breakdown tries to give a bit more data. Basically it’s what’s in Track currently, but I’ve reimagined it for fun:

The three sub-tabs here are designed to let you compare your outgoings against your own average for the previous 12 months, but also against any budgets set, or a benchmark of either all or similar users.

The Budgets tab would let you set budgets (pretty much as you do now in Track). But I’m not a heavy budget user, so have skipped over that!

Two final things before I wrap up: a redesigned transaction screen and a redesigned transfers one.

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Here’s the transactions one: (tap to see the whole thing - some of these graphics are partially hidden, on mobile at least).

A few things to note about this:

  • I’ve separated the Payment Type and Account fields as, as we’ve seen, you can now use cards to spend on different accounts. And some transactions, like this, don’t even use cards at all - so they get the logo of whatever type is being used.

  • Monzo-inspired, but I’ve included a field for hash-tags. This is probably a niche sport, but I find them really useful in Monzo. I haven’t incorporated them everywhere in this design, but I could seem them being used in comparative statistics, the Top section etc. Here you enter words and can tap on them for easy searches.

  • Also Monzo/Starling inspired, a field for notes. I can’t survive without it!

  • A bit of innovation! Send the same money you receive to another account (it would take you to the transfer flow and prepopulate the amount). Or pull money from a savings account to cover the spend!

  • More innovation! An allusion to rules. Regular readers will know that I’m keen on being able to send money, add comments/tags etc when certain things happen, rather than at a specified some. For example, tapping this on your salary could start a flow to say “when I receive this amount from this person, move X here, Y there and add a comment to say “Salary”.

  • Also included is an option to update merchant details. Either report wrong ones, or to replace with a personal name or logo. (This is a bad example being a bank transfer, but hopefully you get the drift)

  • Finally, some space for the merchant name and details as reported by Visa. This is, again, a bad example as it’s a faster payments transfer, but if Dozens is to enrich merchant names it, like Monzo and Starling, absolutely needs to have the original data visible somewhere, I think.

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And finally, the Transfers one, accessible from the transfers icon on the Spend tab:

The ‘from’ and ‘to’ boxes would be tappable, revealing a list of saved payees and of connected accounts to easily choose from. Alternatively, there would be an easy way to enter new details.

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So there we go! A (partially) reimagined Dozens app. There’s loads I haven’t looked at, like direct debits and standing orders, more on rules - and nothing on future wealth and financial modelling.

But I thought I’d share my slightly odd hobby and what I’ve been up to over Christmas!

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I can sense a workshop opportunity coming on. Teams dial in anyone? A lot of thought has gone into this.

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I’ve been thinking a bit about simplification of the app, as that popped up on another topic. Looking again at the mocks above, I realised that I didn’t really take to heart two things that I was recommending: streamlining and splitting out spending money from regular bills.

So here’s an updated version:

Here I’ve tried to focus only on the important stuff. So there are two tabs: one for day-to-day spending and one for committed spend (bills). I’ve stripped the tabs right back so we only have historic transactions and scheduled future transactions. I’ve added budgets, analysis (track and visuals) and payees as buttons that would open up separate screens. And, much as I liked the cards at the top of the screen, I’ve dumped them because they’re superfluous - instead there’s a card icon you can tap on.

I have, though, added some more info up top that’s relevant to the spending / bills split. The spending one brings in the spend/day and spend/week figures that are currently a few taps away. And the bills one shows the amount in your account and the projected outgoings. But arguably some of this might still be too much info - it could just be stripped back to account balance.

There’s probably still much more to do strip this example back, but I quite like it. I am, though, eagerly looking forward to Dozens 2.0 - I’m keen to see what the professionals have come up with! :smiley:

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@Peter

  1. Your suggestion of 6 buttons at the bottom I do not think is a good idea, mobiles are small, peoples hands can be large and can confuse customers

  2. Having “Borrow” section I think goes against the companies current business philosophy of trying to encourage people to save. Also means having to have extra staff for credit checks, extra licenses from the regulators and much more.

  3. If they ever consider a borrow option, would recommend using something similar to Curve, for example, a certain item can be paid off over several months.

  4. Bring development in house sounds great on paper but for some companies such as Dozen, it may not be economical. There are financial software companies can make an app out of the box within a few months with minimal expense as the development has already been done.

  5. There is no point trying to copy Monzo and Starling, in business if you wish to succeed you have to be original, do something different. They can not compete directly with Monzo and Starling who have the financial backing of hundreds of millions.

The business model for Dozen, it to try to encourage customers to use Dozen as their spending account and any disposable income at the end of the month is put into savings. There is no point Dozen trying to get customers to use as their main account as they can not provide the same services at this time compared to the major banks.

Assuming Dozen is sticking to their current business model some suggestions:

  1. Tool to integrate with the user’s bank account to transfer money automatically the day after payday (total pay minus direct debits plus extra few hundred for the unexpected direct debit)

  2. Keep analysing the main bank account, if an un expected bill then automatically transfer money from Dozen back into the main bank to avoid the account going to their overdraft.

  3. Encourage users to use Dozen as the spending account with rewards for spending, making deals with certain merchants such as amazon or smaller store (who in return may recommend their customers to purchase with Dozen).

  4. Any spare money towards the end of the month is automatically put into savings (Bonds)

  5. Once the Bonds accumulates to over £1000, encourage customers to invest the money into the investment section.

  6. Focus on Children accounts, just remember parents those in their 30s/40s are more likely to save for their children future or retirement. If you offer free kids accounts it also encourages the next generation to bank with Dozen and encourages financial responsibility.

Just keep in mind, Dozen main profits will come from those who invest and it is encouraging customers to save and invest. It is in my view about providing customers with the tools to allow them and encourage them to spend less and put any disposable cash at the end of the month into savings.

Offering borrowing services discourages their customers from saving and bring development in-house can be an expensive short term mistake especially in this current economic climate.

But saying this I do borrow, I use Tymit credit card and any spending during Christmas I automatically pay these expenses off over 6 months.

John

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Thanks, John!

I don’t claim to have got anything right - do take these all with a shovel of salt! That said, a few things that might be interesting to discuss:

The bottom bar is a bit tricky - without a fundamental reorganisation, it does look like there’s a bit too much stuff to cover. That said, I borrowed directly from an early view of what a new version of the app would look like. This slide from Dozens does have six buttons at the bottom, including two new ones: Borrow and Protect:

I might have got it wrong, but I think AC has said that Dozens isn’t interested in overdrafts and impulse borrowing (like credit cards or consumer loans). My impression was that big assets - like mortgages or investments in businesses - are potentially of interest. That seems to work well with the ethos, to me.

All interesting points, though. While I was reading them (especially the bits towards the end) I kept thinking ‘well, it does really depend on what Dozens wants to be when it grows up’. That question will unlock a lot of answers about future direction, I think.

All of this aside, the more practical side of me thinks that any changes that we’ll see to Dozens will likely be ‘shop window’ ones designed to attract wholesale customers through PI1.

This is all really interesting, I find it difficult to add much on the UI/UX subject… (very much of the if you make it possible, I’ll find a way to do it persuasion - as mentioned elsewhere, API access would be the ideal UI for me… ) but I did want to say thanks @peter for all this - and ask did you by any chance get an Adobe XD license for Xmas? :slight_smile:

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What a wonderful new year present to return to @Peter. Up for a workshop with our new Head of Design @yat-hong , some of the regulars from the community and me?

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The timing is perfect as Yat and I have been busy thinking through the overhaul as well!

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Hello @yat-hong!

And @AC, sounds like it might be fun!

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So there was much talk about a new app, any news?

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That’s a very good question @mimote

You will not be surprised if I tell you that we are working on it … and that we are not quite ready to show or release stuff (yet).

However, discussions like the one above have really concentrated our minds on what we need to bring in the full new version of the app, and have been debated and designed at length to create a very different app with the same “soul” of the current app and its mission.

I may be speaking a little early, but since we’re talking of sneak previews in other threads too, I am hoping to organise a live session with @AC to discuss recent developments at Dozens with the business, our team, and also our app, in the final week of July.

I will announce fuller details soon but put something in your diary for that week as we’d love to have you take part and give us your thoughts if possible.

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