Recently mint made bill reminders available on mobile. Users can view and set reminders on mint iOS and Android apps. It was a feature users were eagerly waiting for. The feature existed on web but not on mobile.

 

Be great if you could also connect to our Utilities and other bills and pull in the amount and due date automatically like you do with our credit card and mortgages.- Derek Lee (a mint user)

At mint, we always listen to users. Users have a solid platform to voice their opinion. The first thing we did was to shortlist users’ need by looking at the reviews they wrote about mint. The common ask was to identify recurring bills, highlight due date and amount and ability to set reminders via email or SMS.

Bills Reminders shown as upcoming bills module in mint web offering

Bill Reminders already existed in web version

As I mentioned above, the bill reminders existed in web version of product. It was much needed on iOS and Android platform. The experience was calendar focused. It highlighted due date and presented the details like amount and vendor name in list view. User could change reminders or add new. The engine which identified the bills was not excellent and needed much more fine tuning.

The anatomy of a bill

What is a bill? First question we asked ourselves.

How paying bills impacts users’ finances. Is it positive? What happens if users miss the due date of utility bill, will it cost them more than just a late fee? Do users need a reminder about smaller payments like Netflix, Spotify or do they need to know if the account balance is just enough to pay the mortgage on time. These questions helped us to start building the feature set.

The task also helped us to highlight data points such as type of bill (entertainment, utility) vendor (PG&E, Bank Of America Credit Card), frequency of payment (monthly payment vs annual subscription). Further we crosschecked data points with the available API.

Brainstorming with the team

We all gathered together and spent an hour sharing, what each individual felt about the feature. How we were dealing with bills in our personal life. Few of them were worried about credit card payments. Few wanted to know fixed amount they must pay each month. Few were looking for due dates to be aligned with paychecks and not monthly calendar.

This brainstorming session was an awesome experience and led to many great ideas. I strongly recommend to spend at least an hour with team members discussing what they feel about the product.

10–3–1 design approach

It is a design process to shortlist ideas and focus thinking around what exactly needs to be built. Designer must start with minimum 10 different ideas to solve a given problem. Ideas are presented in the form of mock. Team gathers together and discusses each and every possible detail referring the mock. Team shortlists 3 ideas and validate the hypothesis for MVP. These 3 ideas stand a good chance for user testing. Based on results and hypothesis team finalizes one idea. This idea is a combination of what is getting built, what is an immediate follow up, what needs to be measured in the shipped product. IMHO, It is mandatory to answer all three questions to define MVP.

This is a process where design facilitates the team to think in one direction solving users’ problem and not worry about individual goals in the organization.

mint bill reminders 10–3–1 design process.

API

The four questions were critical for MVP. The questions were

We wanted our API to answer at least four questions.
  1. When am I paying the bill?
  2. How much am I paying and to whom?
  3. Minimum amount I must pay (for credit card)?
  4. At what frequency am I paying the bill?

Thanks to our developers who work restlessly to get the required answers for MVP. Involving developers in the product conversation is mandatory as they know the fine details many of us may forget. It is equally important for product designers not to be blocked by what is possible in the given time but be informed.

The MVP

Bill reminder was a long due for our mobile users. We have started with an ability to view all reminders, manually add missing reminders, change frequency of occurrence and a card that appears when needed in updates tab. We made sure to answer questions like to whom I am paying, what I am paying and at what frequency.

The ability to view existing bill reminders, add reminders manually, change the frequency if reminders and ability to delete was our MVP

Obviously, this is not where we stop. We are adding more features and tracking the released features. We recently made changes in navigation and introduced a card framework too. Navigation and card framework was the highlight of 2014 for mint and is proving to be the best change so far.

There is more coming from our kitchen. Stay Tuned.