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Product Designer,
UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer

Helping Young Bank of America Customers Learn About Money

Educating children about money and banking can be a challenging experience for parents, but kids and young adults need an opportunity to participate in their personal finances to grow into responsible adults. With cash becoming less ubiquitous, children will have to learn about digital transactions and modern banking at an earlier age than ever before. The absence of physical currency can aggravate the already difficult lessons of keeping track of how much they have saved, how much they’re spending, and grasping good digital money habits.  Additionally, family members now need ways to give money to kids digitally, whether as an allowance, a birthday gift, or incidental ‘lunch money.’

Project Goals

There are currently numerous third party services available for children and teenagers to learn about money, open their first accounts, and get their first bank cards.  Multiple large US banks such as PNC, CapitalOne, and Chase offer accounts and services catered towards young kids and teens, but Bank of America does not.  In order to secure young customers and help them on their financial journey, Bank of America can develop its own account service aimed at children. This cuts out the need for a third party and can be a seamless extension of a parent's existing Bank of America relationship. Involvement with their child's account offers parent oversight as the child gradually earns more responsibility and provides hands-on interaction with the child's financial education.

By focusing on their needs, Bank of American can build lasting relationships with young account holders and lay the foundation for their next generation of customers.

Young Explorer device mockups


Initial research consisted of in-depth competitor analysis and user interviews, with the primary goal of understanding what parents and children look for in banking services catered towards youth and how personal finance education ties into the experience. Both traditional banking options and newer third party services were studied to discover what features are commonly supported. Interviews sought insight from three distinct groups: current Bank of America customers, parents of children ages 6-13, and children themselves. For the purposes of this project, the parents were identified as the target user group and their perspectives were prioritized while keeping current customers' and children's insights in mind.

Research Questions

  • What value do parents place on personal finance education and how do they approach this with their children?
  • What do parents look for when opening a child’s first financial account?
  • How much responsibility do parents give their children to manage their own money?
  • How do parents reward their children for chores? With cash, digital transactions, or some other way?
  • How involved are children in managing and tracking their finances and/or accounts?
  • Do children use cash to buy things for themselves? If not, what method is used?
  • How do family members give money to children as a gift for birthdays and other special occasions? Cash, check, digital transactions, or some other way?
  • How important is building their children's credit to parents?
Young Explorer research

User Interview Results

  • Three of three parents want their children to learn about personal finance and are willing to teach them, but they often worry they don't know the best way to do this or what lessons are appropriate for a particular age.
  • Three of three parents want their children to take on more financial responsibility but believe this needs to scale appropriately with their age. They don't trust their children with money yet and want the ability to oversee and control their banking activity.
  • Three of three parents (and two of two current Bank of America customers) prefer banking online. They find going to a physical bank branch inconvenient and will only do so if absolutely necessary.
  • Two of three parents worry that they do not know how to teach their children about money with cash becoming less common.

Primary User Persona

Based upon the research results, a primary user persona was developed to capture the lessons learned and help guide the ongoing development of the project. This persona is a parent with a middle school-aged child who is ready to open her first personal bank account. The mother is a long-time Bank of America customer who will be able to take full advantage of the convenience that comes with having both accounts with the same bank.

Young Explorer primary persona

Information Architecture

With the focus of the product established through research findings and a primary user persona in place to guide development, focus moved to how parents would engage with their child's account. Careful consideration was given to the account management interface structure to ensure a streamlined and intuitive experience. Due to the fact that user interview participants stated an equal preference for desktop and mobile app banking, account interface designs for both devices would be done.

Task/User Flows & Site/App Map

This phase of the project began with the identification of potential task flows. Numerous options were explored and then narrowed down to a set of primary user flows that could be the basis for design prototypes and usability testing. After consideration, the flows involving a child's allowance and chores list were selected as the focus. These two features are unique to the Young Explorer account and would likely be two of the most frequently used by parents and children alike.

After selecting the primary flows to be designed, a thorough sitemap was developed to identify the website pages and app screens required for the upcoming prototype effort. Bank of America's current account management interface structure was studied closely so that the new account could be built on the same design patterns.

Young Explorer flowsYoung Explorer sitemap


With the account interface structure laid out and main user flows established, initial desktop screen wireframe sketches were generated. Hand sketching allowed numerous page designs to be studied quickly. The pages were developed through multiple iterations and refined to the point where they were ready to be built digitally. This stage involved a deeper dive into Bank of America's existing brand and UI design patterns and Apple's Human Interface Guidelines to ensure the typography, color palettes, common elements, and overall page structure stayed consistent.

Young Explorer wireframe sketches

UI Design

The user interface design builds upon the wireframe sketches, Bank of America's design patterns, and Apple's Human Interface Guidelines. These standards were incorporated into two design prototypes that cover the two primary user flows along with the main pages of the other unique account features. Based on initial research, users expressed an interest in accessing educational resources. In order to bring these into the common account experience and put them in front of users, money tips were added to each action confirmation popup.

High-Fidelity Mockup

The key site pages and mobile screens were developed into high-fidelity mockups ready for usability testing. The allowance feature was fully built out in the desktop prototype, with the main pages of the other account features designed in order to solicit testing feedback. The chores feature was built as part of the Bank of America mobile app.

Young Explorer prototype mockups

A Suite of Features for Children and Parents

The Young Explorer Account's features are built to teach first-time bankers how to manage their money with help from their parents. Parents can oversee the account and put guardrails in place to prevent overspending, and these controls can be adjusted or removed as children grow and earn more responsibility. The ability to complete traditional transactions in a digital way, such as giving and receiving money gifts from family, helps children learn about modern banking. Educational resources are available for both children and their families to encourage financial literacy and support ongoing learning efforts.

Usability Testing

With two functioning prototypes prepared, usability testing participants were recruited. Three users were given access to both the desktop and mobile app mockups and in-person tests were performed to analyze how well the main flows could be performed. Participants were given a series of tasks to accomplish and their experiences were observed and recorded.

Usability Prompts

  • Task A - desktop - your daughter’s school just started offering hot lunches and you’d like to take advantage of this service. Students are required to personally buy their food daily, but can make cashless payments if they have a bank account. You arrive at the Bank of America account site and log in. You want to set up a new allowance to automatically deposit lunch money into her account on a weekly basis.
  • Task B - desktop - browse through the other main account features. Are there any you find particularly useful or not?
  • Task C - mobile app - using the Bank of America mobile app on your phone, you want to set up a new one-time chore for your daughter – helping you clean out the garage this weekend.
  • Task D - mobile app - your daughter helped you clean out the garage and you want to use the mobile app to confirm the chore is done and pay her for the work.
Young Explorer desktop prototypeYoung Explorer mobile app prototype

Testing Outcomes

The test results were recorded and organized into an affinity map in order to establish patterns of success, pain points, and potential additional features. Overall the participants were able to navigate through the prototypes without trouble, but some participants expressed difficulty locating certain buttons and there were mixed feelings about the money tip popups.

  • Task A - 66% initial task completion rate - all participants were able to complete the allowance task flow, but one participant took some time familiarizing herself with the overall Bank of America account interface.
  • Task B - 100% task completion rate - all participants were able to navigate between the main account features through the activity center links.
  • Task C - 100% task completion rate - all participants were able to complete the chore creation task flow on the mobile app, but took different routes to access the feature.
  • Task D - 100% task completion rate - all participants were able to mark the newly created chore as done.
  • The money tip popups were ignored by two of the three participants and the third expressed appreciation for them but noted that she would not want to have them coming up constantly. The approach to these would need to be reconsidered.
  • Two of three participants found it difficult to differentiate between personal and child accounts on the mobile app.
  • Two of three participants were current Bank of America customers and felt the new account UI meshed seamlessly with the existing interface, and believed that the product is worthwhile and would be valuable to them as parents.
Young Explorer affinity map

Priority Revisions

Based on the usability testing results, a set of high impact revisions were made to the two prototypes. Revised versions of both were built as milestones to record these updates.

  • The money tip popups were reconsidered for both the desktop and mobile app interfaces. On desktop, the popup layout was redesigned for legibility and an image was added to catch users' attention. On mobile, the tip popup was separated from the standard action confirmation popup and redesigned to be more visually appealing. The tip popup was removed from the chore completion flow to indicate a more limited use of them.
  • On desktop, the recurring chore tipping function was removed due to feedback indicating that this would not likely be used by parents.
  • On mobile, the Young Explorer Account link was more clearly separated from the personal accounts on the account home page for easier identification, and the personal and shared account dashboards were separated for easier differentiation.
  • On mobile, microinteractions were introduced to give users more explicit feedback on newly created and completed chores.
Young Explorer desktop popupYoung Explorer desktop popup revisedYoung Explorer mobile dashboard revisionYoung Explorer mobile popup revision

Reflection & Next Steps

This project was an opportunity to carefully study an existing brand and design system and determine how to respect them while building a new product. Working concurrently with desktop and mobile app interfaces shed light on ways to convey consistent information in two very different settings. Next steps in the project would include developing the other key account features more fully, such as savings goals and spending controls.

In a more speculative sense, overall interface improvements (which would then be incorporated into the current Bank of America account UI) could be valuable. Numerous inconsistencies in the existing UI were identified during study that should be addressed. In addition, general usability and site navigation could be improved, and an overall refresh of the account interface could be beneficial.

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