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:
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.
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
- Can you remove any of the basic categories? Some people might want to split
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
- 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.