Subbed - a one-stop solution for subscription management
Have you looked at your monthly expense closely and ever wondered where an untitled $3.99/month comes from? It could be a music app premium that you subscribed to 3 years ago, and similar products can really add up. Subbed is a product that provides comprehensive and centralized management of all your subscribed services. It can help you find the plan that suits you best, cancel any subscription with one button, and even better, arrange exclusive discounts to your current plan.
Project length: 6 weeks
Quantitative Research (Survey)
I chose quantitative research to start because I am interested in how many people have a similar problem as mine: “Not having a full grasp of their recurrent fees each month.” In a world of digital products where we sign up for too many services on a multitude of devices and accounts (Not to mention those “free trials” that ask for credit card info in the beginning and charge for a year after seven days), someone else might be interested in a tool that can change this situation.
By sending out a short survey on social media, I collected 31 effective responses from people across age, nationality, and profession. I visualized the results in several graphs for better analysis and comparison.
Qualitative Research (Interview)
I then interviewed 5 people who completed the survey to empathize with how they feel. I used an open-ended approach and listened to them talking about a typical day of life, and more importantly, a typical month interacting with their subscriptions. Among the people that I interviewed, while three are working professionals who subscribe to at least 5 digital services, two extreme users were also included: one is an accountant, tech-savvy and always keeps close track of his spending; another is an elderly person who learned to use a smartphone but not familiar with everything. Her grandchildren had accidentally subscribed to premium features in some games while using her phone.
The interviews changed my predisposed idea toward how people react to hard-to-manage subscriptions. Despite rare incidents like forgetting or accidentally subscribing to some products, working professionals roughly know how much the subscriptions cost proportionally to their salaries. It is the fact that they are either too busy or lazy to be bothered to check the exact transaction amount, although they would expect a tool that can enhance their experience of managing memberships, i.e. seeing them all together. Beyond that, the most precious insight is that everyone looks for discount opportunities whenever they can. Because of certain work or study requirements, there are services that one has to stick to, and there are no substitutions. However, there are ways to get discounts and my interviewees want a source for the potentials. For example, one said that “By asking the Adobe customer service about ending the membership, you are given an exclusive 50% off discount for a full year.”
II. Define Challenges
Based on the research results, I made two personas to aid in my design. They represent the potential users of the application and became very helpful in the following design phases.
Customer Journey Map
This map illustrates stages a user goes through when managing subscriptions without a specialized tool. Based on this map, 3 key points are discovered that could enhance user experience and are potentially profitable:
- Save users time and present them with complete and reliable information.
- Give users the power and the convenience to manage subscriptions.
- Help users decrease their expenses.
To find solutions that are most meaningful to users, it is important to analyze what the competitions are in the market. I am interested to investigate the strategies that competitors of Subbed App are using to tackle the design problems above. Chase Bank App represents traits that most official bank applications have in common; Mint and Truebill are two direct competitors that are more focused on providing solutions for the problems above while having distinct concentrations; Apple Health on the other hand, far from being a direct competitor, offers rich inspirations on the methodologies and aesthetic on how to present data in an application.
In assessing these products and making comparisons based on their heuristics and marketability, I gained precious insights about how to tackle down the design challenges.
- Fast-paced work life makes our subscription bills hard to track. Users may forget what products they have subscribed to and pay for what they no longer use.
- Digital subscription-based products are increasing but since they are usually based on different platforms (i.e mobile vs desktop vs TV) there is no platform offers a unified experience to view and manage these services.
- Discounts are usually only offered at the beginning of adoption, and then fees may even increase and result in dissatisfaction.
- Generic bank apps or websites offer a variety of tools but the usually cluttered space offers no center stage for the task mentioned above and makes it difficult to access.
- Today’s market has a lot of homogenized digital products that are ready to replace each other. Some users are reluctant to switch their subscribed products even when something new and better is available.
Based on the problems and challenges summarized in the define stage, I began to ideate on brand new user experiences that “Subbed” can bring and help with the current problems. I wrote down any solutions that I could think of by asking “How Might We...” questions.
User Flow Map
By brainstorming, competitive analysis and closely examining user goals and common problems shared by the experience of extracting subscription information from the sea of transaction history, I came up with a user flow map for a basic structure of the application. The Subbed app’s main functions can be summarized as Overview, Statistics, and Explore, which can be naturally built into its navigational tab.
Based on the structure of the user flow map, I drew the wireframe of the application on a paper, with initial ideas for the appearance.