Wednesday, February 06, 2013

DP: Week 2

This past week has been about solidifying my direction, understanding my audience and their needs and looking into how I can propose solutions. 

The final, final question is:

How can graphic design improve the financial needs of college students?

The banking experience is meant for people with, well, a steady income. And while most banks have student banking programs that offer special services to accommodate for the life of a college student, some of their needs continue to be unmet.


In order for me to stay on track I have created a few goals that I have placed at the finish line. Here are a few:

To warm the experience of banking.
By using language to speak to the customer on a personal level. Friendly, not corporate. just because an automated message is being delivered via technology, it doesn't mean it has to lack personality and warmth. 

To make savings for students easier. 
By using tactics similar to parents cutting up vegetables really teeny tiny and placing them in other foods, I feel I can propose a solution that can help students get better at saving and pinching pennies.

To provide a service that they find enriches their life with humor and language.
By weaving this into their lives rather than intrusively informing and by using the appropriate language this service should be seen as helpful, not fussy.


The financial needs of a college student are much like those who aren't students because they spend money. But their needs differ in almost every other way. The life of a college student revolves around the idea of stretching every dollar as best you can and splurging on things that are most important to you. Budgeting is always important no matter what age, but the college life presents a disadvantage: college students are somewhat new to the this thing we call adulthood and therefore are much more likely to run into financial issues because they lack experience. And while experiencing dilemas with their banks and late fees and such can provide experience, it mostly just adds stress to the already inconsistent lifestyle of a college student.

A table for a quick over view (but you definitely want to read all this.)

1.Access to their balance

Problem: How can students access their balance?
College students need access everywhere to their balance. Most students who have a smart phone have access to a mobile application that can tell them the balance of their accounts as well as the most recent transactions. 

Although smart phones are everywhere and are slowly taking ore the world there are still a pretty considerable percentage of students who do not have smart phones. For this group consideration of their available technology will be factored into how they can benefit from this service.

Proposed Solution: Students can see their balance via mobile app/texting.  
Those with Smart phones are offered their banking needs via a mobile app. And when they can't get their internet to work, they can easily request their balance via text message.

Additional Solution: An online space for those without smart phones.
The text messaging would also serve as a channel for those without smart phones for easy functions similar to checking their balance or inquiries. For these people without smart phones their primary source for handling their money and requesting services would be the online hub. 

2. Debit cards

Problem: How to replace a debit card?
Sometimes during the process of working hard and playing harder, the playing harder part can sometimes bring misfortunes. Like the misplacement/theft of one's debit card. 

Solution: The ATM can produce and dispense it upon request.
The process of canceling and ordering another can be painful. 
Almost everyone has debit cards and for the most part the bank controls what this card looks like and comes in a standard size. It would be a consideration to allow the card holder to choose the imagery on their card or use this as a branding opportunity so that this service can be differentiated from the pool of banking services. And requesting a new one would be as easy as going to an ATM, where it can dispense you a new temporary card. 

3. Checks

Problem: Checks are a bit outdate and can be a hassle. 
Checks are not as commonly used as they were 15 years ago. This channel is slowly diminishing, but is still necessary. There is some trouble with checks as you have to first order your checks and then wait for them to be mailed to you. Which could take a couple weeks. Then when you finally get them you have to make a run to the post office for the envelope and stamp that you definitely don't have just laying around your apartment because of all the studying you've been doing. So when you get to the post office to handle your business like an adult, it turns out the post office closed thirty minutes ago and in effect the delivering of your rent check is  delayed and you possible get fined for turning in your rent check just too little too late. The point here is that checks can be a hassle when not done properly.

Proposed Solution: We mail the check for you.
The solution here is that the check you want to send is sent from you. It has your name on it and the amount you wish to give away, but you don't have to order checks. You don't have to make a run to the post office. You don't even have to fill the check out yourself. All you have to do, via the mobile app or the hub, is request that a check be sent for you, in a timely fashion of course. They don't call it snail mail for no reason. 

4. Shopping

Problem: How can students save money? 
Most college students acquire money and for the first few days they feel on top of the world because they can spend with a little more freedom than they could the day before. But after those few days they are back to square one of looking for loose change under the sofa cushion. One of the priorities with this system is to help the financial needs of the student, and that means helping them pinch a penny or two. 

Proposed Solutions: 

Gas/Food: The app will be able to tell you the gas stations around you and their price and you can decide which is best for you and if the savings is worth driving an extra block or two. 

Most restaurants have lunch and happy hour specials, you usually have to search for these but with this app, you can easily see which restaurants offer these specials, what days of the week, and what time of day. 

Desires: Many a times there are certain products on our wish lists, but our finances may not allow us to have them. With this app you are able to create piggy banks devoted to certain items. You can copy and paste a link of your desire and the app will even alert you if/when it goes on sale. You can also use "keep the change" setting where you can choose to round up all your debit card transactions to the nearest dollar and put it towards your piggy bank. This feature can be easily turned on and off with a push of a button. 

Bonus Feature: Based on the places you use your debit card the app will find deals that you could benefit from, such as specials to places where you eat. 

5. ATMs

Problem: How can students access cash/change?
Students often need cash. And while requesting cash there are some limitations when withdrawing. Such as not being able to withdraw less than $20. Sometimes, $20 may not be the desired amount of cash. Say you don't have $20 in your account, but you do have $19.78 in your account and you only need $8 to do your laundry. Now not only do you need cash, but you are in dyer need of quarters. 

Proposed Solution: Small bills/change dispenser
The proposed solution is that the ATMs approved with this service are to be stocked with small bills so that an amount less than $20 can be withdrawn. An option to do a partial amount in quarters is available here. That way when doing laundry, finding quarters is no hassle at all. 

6. Fees

Problem: Banks fees are ridiculous. 
Banks need to stay in business. This is why they created fees. To not only hold your money for you, but to actually have the opportunity to keep some of it. 

Common Fees:
Returned item
Monthly maintenance

Proposed Solution: Limited/No Fees

ATM: Approved ATMs are free. Out of Range ATMs would have a fee of.99 cents.
Overdraft: No fees.
Returned Item: No fees.
Monthly Maintenance: No fees. 

7.Transferring money

Problem: Sending and receiving money can be a hassle.
Receiving money and sending money requires a money order or check and there is also a fee for doing this. Again, this service allows you 

Proposed Solution: Send and receive money to any bank account wirelessly. No checks or money orders needed. Just Account number or if they are also a member of the service just add them to your network. 


Problem: College students need all the help they can get to remind them about bills and IOUs.
With the inconsistent lifestyle of a college student reminders become very useful. 

Proposed Solution: Alerts, Automatic Reminders
When you forget to remember, this service is there to remember for you. 


During this audit I found that a lot of what I would like to hypothetically provide for this culture currently exists. There are some Student banking services that have limited perks of no overdraft fees and for another monthly fee, free cash withdrawal. But these perks still come with a cost. I also discovered that there is a new service for banking that is keeping up with the times. While it offers great services for keeping track of your money, mailing checks for you, and having almost zero ATM fees, it doesn't cater to my demographic where I can come in and help solve those problems. And although finding that there is a service out there that crossed the finish line before I even turned the corner, I was reminded that I have a luxury that they don't: I am a student. I have the luxury of speculating technology and services that don't even exist yet. I don't necessarily want to speculate amazing technology that is yet plausible, but I want to take advantage of the fact that I can still dream about my perfect banking experience and have fun tip toeing on the line between what is ideal and what is realistic. 

A banking experience that fulfills your needs through utilizing technology such as your mobiles basic functions (camera, email, application). This bank is actually pretty neat as it mails your checks for you, has double the ATM network as the leading national branch, and allows you to choose how much you want to pay for their service, if at all. (I'm highly considering a switch) And while their services are great for anyone in need of a new way to bank, a college student is not just anyone. 

2. Mint
Helps manage your money. Understanding where it goes and helps you set limits for yourself. Sam was kind enough to let me see the Mint app on her iphone. I learned that this was a tool for budgeting your money by plugging it to your bank account. While it helps manage your money and see your spending habits, it lacks an element of encouragement. That extra push that reminds you of what you're looking forward to. 

3. Student Banking Services (National Branch)
Services within national branches then lend themselves to students but there are cracks that students can fall into and be misguided. A program like this is beneficial because there is more freedom to make mistakes as you are learning the responsibilities of managing money. This audit made me wonder if creating an augmented program that better suits the needs of students because having a branch adopt the program would be more realistic, but I opposed to this because creating a bank would allow for more creative freedom. I'm still a student and have the luxury of creating client free. 


So my goal with this project is to help the banking experience of college students as stated above. However, I have a love for print. After taking a class in UX, I fond that I appreciate the tangible quality of print and the process of creating copy that speaks to your audience and the channels available because these channels are often hidden and untapped. The task of uncovering these channels and utilizing them to communicate effectively is my favorite part about design. Every one can speak, but not everyone can make you listen.

I'd also find this to be a perfect branding opportunity of which I also have a passion for. There is a lot covered here and I plan on showcasing the services so that they are easily understood, through simple keynote animations, but the main focus is the print material for this endeavor.

Some literature:
10 things students waste money on
Trends in College Spending
College Secret Spending

Some Process:

1 comment:

  1. lots of thinking and research! make sure to get your thoughts that resulted from our meeting down too. am i missing your rough timeline for weeks 3 – 13? i can't find it.