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Onward Financial

Employee financial wellness program enabling users to get loans, save towards financial goals, and practice good financial habits.


Onward is a not-for-profit employer benefit program that promotes its users to save, borrow responsibly, and learn about the fundamentals of financial education. I redesigned their goal saving flow, inspired by researching users who were lost in saving towards their financial goals.

I was a UX Designer on a team with two other UX Designers.



Sketch, InVision


3 weeks in January to February 2017


Low-wage workers are unmotivated to build savings towards their financial goals because they feel at a disadvantage and do not have the right guidance. How might we empower them by motivating them to save for the future?


Redesign of the financial goal-setting feature to inspire, include milestones, and self-set rewards for each step and inclusion of success stories by peers to inspire the user.


In the kick-off, my team learned about the client's vision, competitors, who the user was, and how the business works. The client expressed that since the app was still in beta, he was leaving it up to us to decide how we could improve the app.


For the project, he wanted to accomplish:

  • Increased engagement of the app

  • Showing users how to manage finances responsibly​





From the meeting, we pinpointed that the user is a low-wage worker who doesn't have emergency funds, who lacks financial education, and has distrust in conventional banking methods. I began the project with user research in the form of surveys and interviews to understand how the users viewed the business' three main user goals: saving money, borrowing money, and financial education.

I conducted guerrilla research by heading out into the streets of San Francisco to speak to people who matched our user profile (people with hourly wages of $13-$18/hr). Although personal finance is a touchy subject, people opened up after I explained what Onward's purpose was since they thought it could be useful in their lives.


​With the help of 18 survey respondents and 15 interviewees, I were able to come up with these insights:

  • 64.7% of the people surveyed were saving less than 10%, the recommended amount, for people of their income bracket.

  • People who weren't saving the recommended amount said that they had the thought in the back of their minds and that they would get around to it eventually.

  • When asked why they didn't get around to it immediately, they said that they did not have the right tools or guidance and that they didn't know where to begin.

  • People across the board were interested in Onward.


To synthesize the users I interviewed, I developed this persona, which defined the user goals, challenges, and needs.

Low wage worker


Makes close to minimum wage

Saves 0%-5% of each paycheck


Have money saved to be financially secure


Not knowing how to take a hold of their finances makes it difficult to manage finances efficiently and save for the unforeseen future.


Proper guidance and resources on how to manage finances

Motivation to keep up with good financial habits


With the persona's goal in mind, I conducted some online research to find out what experts suggest is the best way to motivate someone to reach their financial goals. I realized that going even broader and researching what it takes to motivate people to do anything was in line with reaching financial goals.


The three main methods were:​​

SMART goals






Setting milestones and rewards

Visualizing your goals


This is a storyboard my team created as a big picture visual representation of how users would interact with the app when first discovering it and after. This helped us understand the users' motivations and experiences connecting to the problem.


To quickly come up with the best solutions, we held a design studio. As a team, we chose this flow and design that broke down each step of goal setting because we hypothesized having a longer step by step process would teach users how to properly set goals for themselves and instill a habit in them.

Add goal

Enter total amount to save

Enter amount per paycheck to save

Set a reward



With the rough Add Goal flow, I created detailed user flows to help understand how the app interacts with human behavior. The Edit Goal feature was added to the project because during paper prototyping, users were asking about how they could edit their previously set goals.


After creating the initial high fidelity designs, we conducted usability testing to test our solution. The feedback collected shaped our final mockup.

Here are the main issues we found in the first round of testing:

Add a Goal page exploration

Usability Testing_Add a Goal.png

Set Milestone page exploration

Usability Testing_Set Milestones.png


Goal Setting Flow
Goal 1.png
Goal 3.png
Goal 2.png
Goal 4.png
Goal 6.png
Goal 5.png
Goal Details and Goal Editing
Goal Details 1.png
Goal Details 2.png
Success Stories
Success Story 1.png
Success Story 2.png


There was a lot of positive feedback regarding the Success Stories, so possibly incorporating even more social interaction could create a supportive community within the entire Onward network or within those companies.


For the scope of the project, we were only able to tackle the challenges of one persona. If I was given more time, I would have liked to explore other challenges that could be solved by Onward, as well as the borrowing feature and visual design of the app.

Since the app was still in beta and we had a short timeline for the project, we didn't have the opportunity to test our product with existing Onward customers. However, I hope that the client showed them the prototype and was able to test with them so that Onward can keep moving forward.

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