I was trying to design the perfect wallet for my friend. What makes a product perfect is the way it meets the user’s needs. The first step was to understand those needs, evaluate if their current wallet is meeting it, what would make them purchase a new wallet over their current one and why.

Uncle Pennybags (aka Mr. Monopoly)

I began by creating an outline of questions to ask my friend, as I went through the user interview writing notes I was cautious to pay attention to visual and verbal cues. For instance, emphasis was placed on certain key words that I underlined (e.g. one spot, security).

User Interview questions and notes

I used a card sorting exercise with the key words to separate the core needs and current inconveniences of my friend’s wallet. I reviewed this with my friend and they agreed with the prioritized needs of keeping cash and cards (personal IDs, loyalty, debit and credit cards) in one spot, security, long life- span, inventory list of items in the wallet, space for coins and overall simplicity. They were frustrated with the bulkiness of their wallet, the friction of taking their wallet out and in, playing the balancing game during travel as the wallet has a limited capacity and general wear and tear. My friend has purchased their current wallet because the old one had failed in terms of wear and tear.

Card sorting with keywords from user interview

Based on analyzing and understanding the user’s behaviour, I noticed that they use selected apps on their phone while on the go (e.g. Google Maps, Waze, Evernote, weather and traffic apps). They also look to declutter certain tasks in their daily activities, for instance taking notes on their phone instead of paper. It was aligning these behaviours with the user’s needs and frustrations that made me think of a mobile digital wallet.

I looked at some apps in a similar space such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Paypal and Alipay . Apple Pay has a slight edge over Google Pay, Alipay and Paypal when it comes to security and extra features. However, there is no support for personal cards and IDs.

Digital wallet comparison

It would be ideal for my friend to have their personal cards available digitally, however currently it isn’t accepted as identification in most places. This can be a future consideration for improvement. As Apple Pay appears to have a nearly seamless flow with the touch ID feature for added security, I concluded that an existing digital wallet such as Apple Pay will currently meet my friend’s needs. I chose not to design a new digital wallet as Apple Pay has market dominance and is growing in disruptive innovation. It’s fast to pull out, no balancing game required, no extra bulk and no wear and tear.

Currently, there are some repercussions of using a digital wallet. For instance, you’ll need to think about the longevity of phone battery and other avenues that accept cash only. The future is headed towards more digital solutions. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to understand the market and question if the industry requires disruption.

Toronto-based designer specializing in user experience and visual design. https://pavi.design/