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Design for America: Discover
Design for America (DFA) is a network of innovators using design thinking skills for local social impact. Discover Financial Services partnered with DFA to understand how to support young adults on their way to financial independence. 4 in 7 Americans lack the financial literacy to make the best financial decisions. Through better understanding this knowledge gap and gaining insights from communities most affected, we hoped to build on Discover Financial Services’ Pathway to Financial Success program to close this gap.


User Research, Prototyping, UX/UI Design, Storytelling


Discover Financial Services


8 weeks

initial challenge statement
How can we support young adults in becoming more financially empowered and equipped as they develop, explore, and share their future goals?
We aimed to not only empathize with the young adults we were designing for but also strived to gain a perspective from experts and professionals working in the personal finance fields.Theses key stakeholders included the vice president for Financial Education and Youth Financial Health Philanthropy at the Wells Fargo Foundation, co-founder of Juno (student loan negotiation group) and a professor/founder of the Pillars of Wealth personal finance literacy initiative at Johns Hopkins University. 
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Key Insights
Parent Involvement 

Students rely on their parents to teach them about personal finance and money management. Yet, parents do not always have all the answers to their children’s questions. There may be a gap of knowledge for parents between current financial activities and more antiquated financial activities.  Still, students feel most comfortable asking questions and making mistakes in front of their parents as they know their parents are not judging their actions.


Ideally, parents are knowledgeable in all updated financial actions and resources and provide their children with personalized recommendations since

they know their children best.

Difference Between Knowing & Doing

Students are often familiar and can explain financial concepts such as opening a credit card early to increase credit score, etc. However, students don't always know where to start or how to execute the actions even though they possess knowledge of the concepts. This is because students don't have the confidence that they actually fully understand the concepts resulting from everyone's situation being so personal and the lack external validation being provided to confirm their understanding.


Ideally, Students feel confident that have adequate knowledge to take action in various financial activities.

Friend Familiar Networks

Students are having conversations with friends to gain better knowledge around financial activities and receive recommendations for resources. Yet, friends might not have all the answers. and certain blindspots within friend circles exist based on differing circumstances. Peers act as anchors for context and comparison points for financial activities providing potentially more relatable benchmarks. 


Ideally, network could be expanded for students where they have a greater pool of people to comfortably talk about personal finance with.

Design Goals
re-framing around insights
A re-framed "how might we" was brainstormed around each key insight. Based on these re-framed problem statements, we decided to move forward with the "how might we" for the Friend Familiar Networks insight and then proceeded with an ideation session.
Parent Involvement

How might we create a bridge for generational knowledge gaps of financial activities to ensure confident financial decision making from parents and students?

Knowing vs. Doing

How might we give confidence to students so that they feel they have sufficient knowledge to take early action in their  financial journey?

Friend Familiar Networks

How can we build comfortable networks between students and

financial experts that are as familiar and easily accessed as friends?

Ideation - with leading ideas
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Financial Genius Bar you can book appointments for

Leading Idea:

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Real-life simulations to demonstrate financial products/services and consequences of habits

Leading Idea:

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Leading Idea:

Personal finance profile created to provide to experts when receiving help

Tested Prototype: Personal Finance Profile
key features:
● Mobile optimization first
● Customizable and personalized
● Integrated and synchronized with other digital financial platforms
● Useful for students and financial experts
● Shareable through multiple channels
● Integrated ability to schedule and meet with financial experts
Video Walkthrough of Tested Prototype
Experience Flow
impact for students
impact for financial experts
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