Hello hello ! I’m Emma - Senior Staff Engineer, recently just passed my 6 year anniversary at Monzo! I joined as the second Android engineer, and have worked across all sorts of features over the years.
A little while ago, some of you might remember seeing a thread with a strange new UI on Android. I’m here today to explain what this was about!
We’ve been thinking a lot about our app structure lately — most specifically around how it can support the growth and complexity we need it to, both now as well as in the future. We last redesigned the app a few years ago, to make more space for core features like Pots. That design worked well, but the app (and the company!) have kept growing since then.
I’m currently the technical lead for a team called ‘app evolution’. Our mission is to evolve the app up to a whole new level
A side note on the team’s name: we picked this name (thanks @maxwhite) because it feels big, full of promise and exciting, but also gradual and attainable. Plus, there’s so much potential for Pokémon memes !
In late 2021, we started off this work with a design and user research discovery phase where we framed the problems, and dug deep into them. The top themes were:
- A lot of our value isn’t easy to discover — customers think of us as a spending card, and often don’t know about functionality like Pots. To help people discover new products and features, we’d often decide to add them as a new tab in the app so people could find them (which obviously doesn’t scale!)
- Engaged customers with multiple products need a better experience — there’s no central place to manage multiple cards, moving money around between accounts/knowing which one you’re in is tricky.
- Ongoing account management is hard — finding previous messages from Monzo is a pain, search isn’t very powerful, and core banking functionality like account number & sort code or bank statements should be easier to find.
From here, I joined @leepethers and together we spent 6 weeks across late May/June 2022 learning and planning how we might go about tackling them: continuing to put customers at the centre of our thinking.
We decided that we’d start with building new Home screen: it’s a pretty important part of the app! Plus, it gave us quite a few good opportunities:
- We can give customers better visibility & control of all their finances, whether they’re inside or outside of Monzo.
- We can personalise the experience, to better support customers whether they’re here to pay down debt, or grow their money.
- We can make it easier to keep track of everything, and surface where best to put their attention, for example with best next steps, etc.
So…. What about that weird UI?
Whilst we were planning how to go about addressing the problems we’d identified, I built a technical demo on Android with the intention of learning. I wanted to explore both the problems we might face with building a new home, as well as what data we have available and in what format we might eventually need it.
When I put it in Labs for myself to try out with my own data, I misconfigured the feature flag. For a brief 10 minute window it was public! It was then when @seig turned it on. The feature flag had no impact until the new screen made its way into the app we ship to all customers — I kept it local for quite a while, because I didn’t want to affect the main app at all. I was on holiday at the time it went live accidentally, which wasn’t ideal
It was pretty interesting to read the reactions — seems like most of you hated it, which honestly is pretty fair! It was very rough, plus I took some serious liberties with the designs at the time to make my life easier implementing it
Where we are today
I’m posting this explanation today to give a bit of context around my mistake, partly because I bet some of you were curious about what the heck happened here, but partly as a way to start the conversation about the app evolution work.
As with our previous redesign, we really want to engage with you folks to get your feedback on what we’re thinking — it’s always super interesting. Money is such a complex and personal topic: the more perspectives we can hear on what we’re working on, the better.
We’re currently working towards a v1 iteration of the new Home screen. I’ll save the sneak peak designs for the next post though — this post is long enough already. Plus, can’t give it all away at once, eh?