Launching a Mobile Bank

Team Lead
Product Design
Design Strategy
Design Research
Marketing Design


1.0 Launch


Varo is a challenger bank focused on helping hands-off, cash-strapped millennials improve their financial situation. I led design efforts across product and marketing and took Varo from early concept development through to launch in June 2017. 

This was a huge effort, spanning over a year. There were many challenges, ranging from compliance to the sheer scale of the functionality offered, but the most interesting problem was this: how do you create an app that resonates with hands-off users who would much rather not engage with their money?

Customers & Stakeholders as Co-Creators

The key to creating a banking experience that made sense for our customers was to involve them deeply in the design process. Via participatory design workshops, I was able to understand their needs and explore design solutions that would resonate. These users are the antithesis of spreadsheeters. They want a solution that "just shows me a number" and helps them achieve financial freedom with as little work as possible.

I ran a Google Ventures-style weeklong design sprint with C-level stakeholders to take these findings and work through them. The resulting Dashboard and product roadmap serve these users well.

Key Takeaways

Success doesn't have to be defined by time spent in your app or the number of repeat visits. By focusing on hands-off users, we had an interesting challenge: how do you design an experience for users who want to engage with you as little as possible? By working closely with our hands-off crowd, we were able to get into their heads and design a bank that gives them what they want, when they want it, and that's it. No extras, no clutter. It was an exercise in deeply understanding what they wanted and then in reducing and simplifying to get there.  As with other projects, designing less is often the hardest thing.



This app was really something else. It's fun to play with and preview designs simply for inspiration; the combination of colors, shapes and sizes allows for so many options...'

Ptigram in the App Store (July 8, 2018)