Doni: Fin-tech Application Case Study

Who is Doni?

Doni Inc is a financial technology web and mobile application targeting Generation Z. Doni was created to allow users to reach financial goals together with friends in a fun, social, and effective way. 


Doni contracted my team of Designers to re-design and gamify their mobile application. We kept in consistent contact with their team of developers located in Romania to avoid disrupting the current flow of the application while improving the overall clarity of the application.


  • International Client
  • Remote Team Communication
  • User Research
  • Interactive Design Process Testing
  • High Fidelity Prototyping

Client: Doni Inc.

Role: Research Lead

Project Research:

Heuristic Evaluation

In order to properly prepare our group to work with the Doni mobile application, our first step was to conduct a Heuristic Evaluation of the app as a whole. In order to avoid bringing our own design biases to the analysis; we used Jakob Neilson's user interface design heuristics:

  1. Visibility of System Status

  2. Match Between System & Real World

  3. User Control & Freedom

  4. Consistency & Standards

  5. Error Prevention

  6. Recognition Rather Than Recall

  7. Flexibility & Efficiency of Use

  8. Aesthetic & Minimalist Design

  9. Help Users Recognize, Diagnose, & Recover From Errors

  10. Help & Documentation

Above is one example of each of the first 8 heuristics (we did not find any heuristic inconsistencies for the final two)
Survey Analysis

Client Interview

Our next step was to interview our client's development teach to hone in on our scope where exactly we fit in in the upcoming project as a whole. Questions included:

Respondents: 23
Age: 14-23
  1. What are your long term goals for this application?

  2. What are your main task flows?

  3. Who do you see as your company's biggest competitors?

  4. What is your current plan to gamify the existing navigation of the application?

User Research

In order to gain a better understanding of how Generation Z behaves; we conducted a survey utilizing Google Forms and reached out to our respective networks for age-appropriate responses. Examples of the questions we asked includes:

  • How do you currently save money for an expensive item you're interested in?

  • Who would you ask for contributions to a goal item from?

  • How much control do you want over the gifts you receive?

  • Do you and/or your friends plan special occasions for one another?

From the survey we learned that the majority of people want control over the gifts they receive
Also that the majority of people plan events for one another
We also learned:
  • 87% of people would ask family for contributions
  • 65% of people would ask their friends for contributions
  • Of the people who plan events for one another, many use some form of text or online communication

Overall, the data collected from the survey confirmed what Doni's current strategy. It showed that Gen Z had an invested interest in the controlling the gifts they receive, they will source their networks to finance their goals, and they already use platforms similar to Doni to plan events for one another. Given this data, as long as Doni can keep users engaged with the platform, they should be able to capitalize on Gen Z's financial goals.  

User Testing (Current Application)
Meet the 4 Generation Z participants who tested the existing Doni app for us

The first step in the testing process was to gain some background knowledge about our 4 participants. This step has multiple purposes including helping us contextualize their responses, helping to put them at ease, and prime the participants for the experience there were about to have. Some example questions include:

  • What activities do you use your smartphone for?

  • If you could get any product right now, what would it be?

We next asked the participants to complete several tasks within the application, collecting both qualitative and some quantitative data about their experiences. Quantitative questions were based on a scale of 1(hard)- 7(easy) and included questions such as:‚Äč

  • How easy/difficult was it for you do complete this task?

  • How relevant was this task for you normally do?

  • How satisfied are you with the app after completing this task?

The final step of the current application user testing was to ask some follow-up questions about the participant's overall experience using the application. Questions included:

  • What are one or two things you liked about the application?

  • What are one or two things you disliked about the application?

  • Is there anything missing from the application that you would like to see?

Key Findings

Key findings were broken down into two categories. The things participants liked about the app and the challenges they experienced while using the app:

The Good

  • Liked having the ability to sign in with Facebook

  • Liked the color scheme

  • Liked the idea of fundraising with their network

  • Liked being able to see who donated the money

The challenges

  • Unclear wording in some sections of the app

  • Desire for a home screen

  • Savings slider was unclear- users thought it was limiting the amount that could be raised

  • Desire for goals longer than 3 months

  • Desire for photo feature

Research Analysis

Using all the data collected from the survey and the current application user testing we constructed an Affinity Map

From this map we were able to narrow down the scope of our project to focus on the features users wanted to see in the application:

  • Home screen

  • Tutorial

  • Video recording/sharing

  • Direct messaging

  • Sharing contributions on social media

  • Clear verbiage

  • Automatic contributions

  • "Friends" feature within the app

With the assistance we were able to scale the requested features from high effort to low from a development point of view
Problem & Solution Statements
Design Principles

Sketching & Ideation

In order to ensure that we stayed on task when designing our prototypes moving forward we detailed 5 design principles to keep at the forefront of our minds while we worked:

  1. Keep user connected with friends

  2. Engage user with multiple functions

  3. Allow user to express identity through functions of the app

  4. Keep it clear and simple

  5. Help users reach their goals faster

Above is the basic outline of the wishlist and goal creation process of the paper prototype on whiteboards

This strategy proved effective as it allowed 1 member of the group to begin transferring the completed wireframes to paper as the other two team members moved on to a new section of the application.

Paper Prototype: User Testing Round 1
Medium Fidelity Prototype: User Testing Round 2
Evolution of Screens

All users preferred to enter the monetary values manually instead of using the slider.

Users wanted to be informed of the 3.5% surcharge earlier, so we placed it on this page and added a calculator.

Final Prototype & Conclusion

Despite a broad and unfocused initial task presented at the start of the project, we quickly adapted to the situation and designed a finished product that we could all be proud of finishing. We reached out to our Generation Z networks and conducted thorough user centered research to dial in on the current app's clarity issues and the user's desire for an overall more engaging experience. 


To increase clarity we focused mainly on adjusting the current wording of the app as well as adding pop-up tutorial windows to aid users in their first experience with the application. To improve the user's continuous engagement with the application we introduced photo/video sharing to events and goals which can be shared on multiple social media sites. We also introduced the friends list and direct messaging within the app to allows users to connect directly with other Doni users. The last major change made to the original Doni app was the much-requested Homepage. This was done to give users a base of operations from which to engage with all the functions of the app. 


All features included were validated through multiple rounds of user testing, with adjustments made as needed throughout the iteration process. By the final prototype of the application all users were nearly 100% positive they would return to and recommend the application to others.