We've Added Some New Categories


(Hugo Cornejo) #1

Hi all!

We’ve made some changes to the way we categorise your spending, adding ‘Family’ and ‘Personal Care’ and changing ‘Cash’ to ‘Finances.’ You can find the full update on the blog:

Hearing what you have to say is really useful and (along with user research, usage data and a bunch of other stuff) will help us understand how we can improve categories for you in the future.

To add to what I said in the blog post, I wanted to share more about why we believe our current solution works right now (of course we might come to think differently and find another solution in the future!)

I see this as a mix of first principles and pragmatism:

Principles

As I said in the post, the concept of customisation is seductive. It suggests we’re empowering people and giving you choice and control, which of course are usually good things. But, as designers of a digital product, I think that one of the most important things we have to do is make difficult decisions on behalf of our users.

Decisions can be tricky and time-consuming to make. And what you usually want from an app is that it works well, without too much thought, time or mental effort from you.

Rather than putting the onus on users to make choices (like the ones I explain below), part of what makes apps simple and delightful to use is when those tough choices are made for you, so you don’t need to worry.

Pragmatism

There are also a lot of practical reasons I believe custom categories aren’t the right solution right now. These are just some of the questions we’d need to answer to implement custom categories effectively:

  • How and where do you manage your custom categories?
    • Do we create a new section in the app? How much time and effort does it take for me to create and maintain my list of custom categories? Can I sort them manually so certain categories appear above others? Take a look at how Gmail deals with custom labels in the mobile app and you’ll get a sense of how complex these things are.
  • Can you choose a custom icon and colour for each category?
    • If you can’t then the new categories wouldn’t be first-class citizens. If you can, do we let you upload your own image or offer a big list of icons to cover every possible case?
  • What happens to your transactions if you delete a custom category? Does the app let you re-categorise all of them in one go? If it doesn’t, should everything go to General?
  • Can you remove any of the basic categories? Some people might want to split Eating Out in Restaurants vs Take away, right?
  • If you split the bill with friends or connect my account with a third party, can they see my custom categories?
    • We want Monzo to work well when you use it with other people and other apps. If we’re are all using different category systems, doing things together becomes trickier
  • Can you create your own subcategories (ie Sports > Gym and Sports > Equipment)?
    • To push it further, would people want to create sub-subcategories? Where do we draw the line?
  • Is there a limit for categories? Can you create dozens and dozens?
    • How many do you need to customise in order for it to be useful? Without adding too much admin and making Monzo super complicated.
  • If everyone is using their own category systems, how do we show you information about your spending?
    • Custom categories limit the kinds of reports and information we’re able to give you about your spending. In the future, we’d love to let you know how your spending in different areas measures up against everyone else’s. But if everyone is using a different system, we won’t be able to make those kinds of useful comparisons. To be honest we’ve done very little of this so far but having custom categories would prevent us from doing it in the future at all.

None of these issues are impossible to solve by themselves. But all together could add a lot more complexity to the app.


Create our own spending categories!
Credit Card Category
(Alex Sherwood) #3

This is a really interesting post, thanks for taking the time to break this down :hot_coral_heart:

How do you see Tags fitting into the design alongside Categories? Are they intended to be a substitute for custom categories?


(Jolin) #4

Whilst it wouldn’t address the issue of how to manage them, I think that custom sub-categories would solve a lot of people’s issues. And it would address many of the issues you raise, as a lot (e.g. icon and colour, category assignment on deletion) could just inherit from the parent category.


(Andy Barnes) #5

Great break down. Thanks for this. Unfortunately for me, categories as they are are not fit for purpose, so I’ll just not use them. However I’ll keep an eye on any updates in the future :slight_smile:


(Jack) #6

I find the categories in their current stage fine, just don’t think to granular about it. Too many categories would create the opposite effect, where you’re not sure what to tag an item as. Tagging individual items I find a better solution, although I think some sort of Auto tagging would be handy.


(joekw) #7

Has there been any progress on fixing that bug where tapping a category after sending a payment doesnt actually set the category?


#8

@hugo there is a typo in your blog post: “very category we add” should be “Every”


#9

Feel like new categories are very similar to what Emma had except that there is still nothing for income/salary.
I don’t think I want custom categories but I would like categories to work more intelligently with tags.
There are still a lot of occasions when a wrong category would be auto selected and I would like mass edit along with if I edit a category app should learn that what I had tagged in that category before and present me tags to choose. Couple more like Charity and Income would make Monzo options great for me.

I think this would give uses quite a bit of customisation. Plus search on Android needs to improved to make use of categories properly.

Emma Categories:


(Cheryl) #10

To me this is ideal.

I don’t want too many categories, otherwise they become worthless - you’ll have a category per transaction! But the ones that have been added are exactly the ones I’ve felt have been missing when I’ve tried to categorise my transactions in the week or so since I joined. Immediately they felt like they were needed. And changing Cash to Finances, too, really helps.


(Jonathon) #11

Great news. Not perfect but you acknowledge that which is brilliant.

When should we see these? Currently I don’t.


(Hugh Wells) #12

Hey :wave:

This isn’t actually a bug - it is expected behaviour!

You can read more here.


#13

When can we expect to see these new categories? Currently I am not seeing them.


(Craig A Rodway) #14

Let’s assume that custom categories can only exist as children of Monzo’s pre-defined existing categories - this sort of answers some of those questions automatically.

A new screen, or tab; perhaps under Account screen? Tide has a separate screen for this in a menu somewhere, but new categories can be added from the “Assign Category” action/UI.

Less time than typing out #tags on every transaction :wink:

No, they inherit from their parent categories.

Revert to parent category, probably.

No.

Can they see current top-level categorisation as they are now? Maybe yes/maybe no…

Parent categories would still be used.

Just one level. Just to keep it simple :wink:

There is already a limit for Pots purely based on the UI, so just pick another arbitrary limit for Sub-Categories? :wink: (N.B. it would be nice if Pots had their own screen so this limit could be removed)

Its usefulness to customers will vary from person-to-person; just like Monzo.me, or Spending/Targets, or Overdrafts…

Probably only a handful under each category, from what I’ve read here. Transport could have Fuel, Maintenance/Repairs, Bus Tickets, Train Tickets. Finance could have Transfers, Savings, Gifts. Bills could have Gas/Electricity, Water, Broadband. And so on :slight_smile:

Using parent categories, primarily. But if we can filter and view transactions by custom categories like we can with #tags now, or include the subcategories in other views that use Categories, then they become much more useful for people (also see above).

Parent categories can still do this. But on the other side of this - if we only have vague categories to pick from, isn’t there a possibility that the comparison with other people becomes meaningless, too?

For example, how do you compare a car user in a semi-rural area spending £150 a month in the Transport category, with a public transport user in a big city spending £80 a month in Transport?

Based on a lot of comments here about what people want, it seems custom sub-categories offers the best of both worlds - to customers and Monzo. Those who want flexibility in categorising transactions will make the small time investment to set them up, and those people who are happy with the default top-level ones will carry on as normal.

I don’t have all the answers, and I appreciate it’s a big issue. Just my 2p :slight_smile:

Alternatively; if #tags were more of a first-class citizen in the app or had some more focus in the UI, there might not be a need for custom categories? Things like reports (totals spent), lists of tags used, select from existing/suggest tags when adding them to a transaction, and advanced filter search for transactions.


(joekw) #15

Whether or not it’s a ‘bug’, it’s frustrating to be given the option to categorize a payment only for it to fail every time. You mention at the bottom of your post 6 months ago that it’ll be fixed. Has that changed?


(Jolin) #16

I think that’s splitting hairs. It might not technically be a bug, but we are presented with a screen, and when we tap on an option, we expect that to be remembered. Regardless of the technical explanation it looks and behaves like a bug to the user. It is certainly not expected behaviour!


#17

With charitable donations included on a self assessment tax return each year it is a shame Monzo omitted the addition of a Charity category.


(Edoardo Moreni) #18

We should be able to release custom categories later over the summer. :wink:


(Adam Kendrew) #19

Couldn’t agree more with this. The data is always going to be skewed, due to items being fudged into categories that aren’t particularly relevant.

If it’s expected behaviour, then please don’t give us the option to categorise on the payment success screen.


(Alex Sherwood) #20

When you have a large enough dataset, the odd discrepancy doesn’t effect the data. They should be able to make sure that they only share insights that are accurate - & avoid offering insights that can’t be relied upon.


(Chris Konopka) #21

Really useful post and well explained. It’s hard to make something that works well for everyone from people who want something simple to people who want control over every feature. I think you’ve got the right balance and I love the idea of expense and holiday toggles too! Thanks for the details.