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Level Money, the personal finance application.

Level Money was a free, award winning personal finance application available for both Android and iPhone that we built to help people "achieve balance." Our primary focus was helping our users keep tabs on their non-essential spending, which we called Spendable. After securely connecting your bank accounts and credit cards, Level autodetected your recurring bills and income and guided users to a savings goal.

Before

When I joined, the Level app was in its first version, with a mix of cool tones, transparent overlays, and a masculine orange-on-black color scheme. The product launched to rave reviews and a number one App Store feature, but needed a lot of polish.

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After

Within the first six months the team completed a full app redesign. We updated the branding from Level to Level Money to help users more quickly find our app in the store, and warmed up the color palette. We incorporated tons of user feedback and worked diligently to expand the kinds of financial situations the product could support.

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A Key Update

One of the primary value propositions of Level Money is having all of your transactions accessible in one place. That means our transaction feed was almost as popular as our hallmark Spendable dashboard.

When I joined, the feed was cramped and utilized color-coded transactions in a way that was inaccessible to our colorblind users. We moved to a treatment with more white space, added custom transaction icons, and updated the tap-through screen of transaction details.

One of the more popular features of the new transaction feed was the balance cover image. Reminiscent of the photos our users had in their physical wallets, we allowed users to customize their transaction feed with a photo from their camera roll and tap the image to get a discreet peek at their bank balance.

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Learning Our Limitations

The primary challenge of working at Level (right behind getting users to hand over their bank login credentials during onboarding) was finding the sweetspot in the spectrum between what the user expected to see and what our transaction data could reliably deliver.

The modern banking industry is built on top of old software, scraped by middle-men aggregators, and digested into something insightful or actionable by user-facing products like Level Money. The United States has over 18,000 banks and credit unions, all of which employ evolving security practices, experience downtime, and do remarkably strange things with pending transactions.

After our redesign, the team introduced a series of smaller features and backend fixes while we turned to the data to better understand our core audience.

It was during this time that we were acquired by Capital One, giving the team massive new access to time, talent, and resources.

Heading for Version 3.0

As we started to get more honest about the timeliness, volatility, and limitations of our transaction data and bank connections, Level realized that growing would require a UX that could communicate a broad range of financial situations with an even broader spectrum of users.

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Cardfeed

We updated the transaction feed to a card layout that allowed us to present the unique context and insights our product could deliver side by side with the user's transactions. This also allowed the product to present different cards to different usertypes. For example, users that were living paycheck to paycheck could receive cards tailored to help them control their spending, while users already achieving monthly savings could be shown cards encouraging more.

Over the last decade we've seen the news feed evolve from a dumb list of articles, our social media streams fill with curated pictures and videos, and our email inboxes get smarter, so why do our transaction feeds still look like an endless receipt?

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Predictions Drawers

The new version of the Level Money app is built on a much more stable implementation of Spendable, and peppers in lots of new repeated and consistent interactions. One of my favorite is the predictions drawer we've added to our bills list, income list, bank balance screen, and spending detail. The graphs and calendars tucked away in these drawers will help our users stay cognizant and aware of their financial life and allow our algorithms to communicate predicted overdrafts, bill reminders, and more.

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Shutting Down the App

In 2017, after I had moved on to Amino, Capital One decided to shutter Level Money. Most of the features had been reinstroduced in their flagship Capital One banking app.