So Monzo Plus is here. And I thought it’d be good to have a thread to discuss design! And, by which, I mean a much more expansive use of the word - this isn’t visual design, but how the whole app hangs together.
Let me start by being honest: I’ve been not quite sure about Plus. I think that some of the features show promise even if they are currently under-baked (open banking, looking at you), but more than that, I think some of the design choices are a bit off. I think it fundamentally feels a bit too much like a bolt on, that’s not integrated with the core Monzo experience. Let me explain:
The Monzo Plus Tab
I see the attraction of the Monzo Plus tab, but it feels wrong to me.
The top bit of the tap is about ‘getting started’. But I’ve got started now - and I’m not sure of the utility - it’s just in the way.
The bottom part (the list of features) feels confused. The way that it works differs according to features so, for example, you can:
- tap on the “Holographic card” and just get some info that you tap to dismiss
- tap “Offers” to access features that aren’t available in any other part of the app
- find links to other parts of the app (including the very confusing “advanced roundups” one - which just takes me to my roundup pot without any other explanation or how to enable that features).
So I think the Plus tab is a fail. It’s a nice idea, but another card in the carousel (like “Things you can do with Monzo” might have been a better option to help users discover functionality. If there’s going to be a tab, it feels like there needs to be some tighter design language and consistency in approach.
Monzo is an account not a card!
Speaking of the card carousel, I think this is where the real problem lies - and exposes some inconsistencies in the design approach and language.
For me, the biggest issue is with the representation of the Monzo current account in the app. The account is represented by the card. And this reinforces the idea that one card = one account. (And may even subconsciously reinforce the idea in users’ minds that Monzo is just a spending card, but I digress).
Why is this a problem? For two reasons:
It means that virtual cards have been hidden at the bottom of the accounts list. Really they should be the same level as the hierarchy as a physical card - there’s just a different way of spending money in the same account. So one account = 2 (or more cards). The current design seems to be struggling with that.
It also means that really useful information about the account is hidden, because the physical representation of the card takes priority. For connected cards, you get the sort code and account number on the card in Monzo - both really useful things. For the Monzo account, you get a partly obfuscated card number that is literally of no use. (And is also illogical given that Plus doesn’t have card numbers on the front any more).
There are some other smaller issues that I won’t dwell on (like the custom category creator - it looks beautiful, but I’m not convinced of the utility of having just one scrolling line for icons - there’s space below to see many more) - instead, let’s consider how Monzo might fix these.
A possible solution?
I think an elegant solution might be to just change the hierarchy of the ‘cards’ in the app. What does this mean?
Firstly, the Monzo ‘card’ should represent the account as a whole. Let users choose and image or colour for it (including hot coral and
Revolut Plus). Put the sort code and account number on it for commonality with connected accounts. That’s your master feed, showing transactions for all cards as well as bank transfers, direct debits, cash deposits etc.
Then sub-cards (like we have currently on Pots) for each card - be it physical or virtual. That makes it easier to see spend. If you can hook Pots and virtual cards together all the better (if it’s too difficult otherwise, use the same trick for bills pots: pay from main account then immediately transfer from the pot).
Kill your darling! That means removing the Plus tab. Integrate the design elements so it’s not a bolt on - Google Sheets export to settings, virtual cards to the accounts / pots screen; offers maybe a card on the carousel…
What we have at the moment is a good first start (and kudos to the team). But I think it needs iterating - and might open up some exciting design avenues.