Banking as it should be
NuConta is an unprecedented mix of current, savings, and payments accounts, all-in-one. Thanks to a one-year-long co-creative process, our team was able to design and ship a product that uniquely addresses customer needs.
We were committed to challenging our most basic assumptions about how people understand and use banking services, so our initial conversations were purposefully broad and naive. We started with a simple list of questions, but we frequently adjusted along the way.
We ran in-depth interviews with people from different ages and backgrounds in the office, but also on public places like malls and a public university. We sat down and very informally let people talk about their financial lives, how they felt about saving, investing, transferring, and spending their money. We also experimented with some visual aids such as card-sorting and very cheap prototypes, but honestly, our best feedback tools were our competitor's websites and products. We learned an incredible amount just by having people experiment with things other companies have already built.
By combining the data from these interviews with others conducted in our lab, and also talking to a lot of our employees about their finances, we were able to come up with eight personas that represent a gradient of behavior and demographic patterns.
With well-defined personas, we now had a lens through which we could look at the problem. Our initial mission, which was very broad, could now be better expressed in sentences that the whole team could agree on:
How might we design an evolution of the current and savings accounts, for people looking for a more accessible and easy-to-use bank account? It should be free of complexity, free of charge abusive fees, and make your money grow at a fair interest rate. Differently from big banks and other fintech pre-paid products, NuConta needs to achieve zero bureaucracy, reduce adoption friction and provide a superior user experience.
We learned from this process that defining a problem is sometimes harder than sitting down to solve it. After dozens of long work days, heated meetings, lots of head-scratching, word-smithing, and sense-making about the material collected during research, the team was finally committed to a unified vision of the product that reflected our customer’s pains and needs instead of our own. We were now ready to deep dive into exploring solutions that would eventually become NuConta.
The first thing we do at Nubank once we have a sound problem definition is what we call a co-design session, which helps us come up with more ideas, better questions, surface constraints and strong stakeholder opinions.
Based on the ideas generated by the team, we started the deepest dive I’ve ever taken on product design exploration. In many ways, both from a technical and a product perspective, NuConta does not fit squarely into a checking, savings or investment account “box”, so we found it a real challenge to align the interface with a user’s pre-existing mental models about money management. A new paradigm for how the money was going to be kept and used required a lot of hard thinking about accounting and how to best represent it on a screen. Given this potential complexity, we spent most of this time collaborating at the white-board without touching a digital design tool.
Only after extensive discussion and brainstorming, we felt ready to start wireframes and pixel pushing: we tried dozens of versions of the UI of onboarding flows, empty states, investment simulators, charts (OMG so many charts), financial goals, investment streaks, etc. We allowed ourselves to go quite crazy in the beginning, bypassing many rules of our current design system, and then adjusted as we got closer to the final result.
We made every kind of prototype you could imagine when exploring solutions for NuConta. We made cheap paper prototypes to test copywriting and general information architecture. We made quick Keynote animations to show engineers the vision for a specific interaction. We built screens and flows on Principle to test signup flows and empty states. Some prototypes even had fake branding and visuals so we could go outside the building and show it around in stealth mode.
Documenting the MVP
Designing for transparency, with transparency
One key component of the speed and quality of our workflow in this project was to use Figma in the early stages of the UI design process, because of the high level of collaboration and transparency it allows. Just like our live streamed user tests, Figma makes it frictionless for stakeholders to watch, participate, and gain empathy for the design process in real time.
Mapping the whole experience
Producing a well-crafted individual screen is satisfying, but we can never forget that every touchpoint is part of a broader ecosystem. Below is an example of how we kept track of every App screen, push notification, email, website page, and social media posts that first-time users would encounter.
It's just day one.
Defining NuConta’s purpose took a lot of work, and we’re happy to see that after a year-long design process, we have shipped an initial product that meets all the goals we set.
It is currently in controlled rollout for more than three million users, and will soon be available for hundreds of millions of Brazilians.
Here's a demo of the love we got from users: