Designing a “Today View” Widget for YNAB’s Mobile App


Timeframe: June, 2016
Company: You Need A Budget
Role: Business analysis, recruiting, research, synthesis, interaction design, prototyping

In mid-2016 I applied for a position at You Need A Budget (YNAB). This project was a voluntary effort on my part in order to demonstrate my skills and show my enthusiasm for the role.

I did some analysis of the company’s (probable) business goals and customers’ “jobs to be done”, arriving at a list of 11 ideas that could make YNAB’s budgeting software a better fit for those jobs. I then ran a small study where I interviewed real users about their experience with the mobile app, and finally designed a “Today View” widget for iOS.


I had to rely largely on conjecture, but through scouring YNAB’s blog and their social media channels, I identified at least two big problems that the YNAB team was likely solving for.

  1. Get YNAB4 users to switch to the new (web-based) version of YNAB
  2. Increase user engagement with their budget, regardless of the device


Out of 11 ideas for addressing these problems, I chose to dive deeper on my idea to create a “Today View” widget for the YNAB mobile app.

This feature could help people engage with their budget (business goal #2) because it shortcuts having to open the app and wait for everything to load.

Since sticking to a budget requires you to keep your budget decisions top-of-mind, providing a way to quickly access those decisions made a lot of sense.

Here are the steps I took to arrive at my solution.

1. I theorized what YNAB’s business goals might be, and did some analysis on the underlying problems.

2. I then took some time to understand the 3 fundamental “jobs to be done” that YNAB’s former Chief Experience Officer had published a year or two prior.

3. With these two perspectives in mind – business goals and customer “jobs” – I listed out 11 ideas that might be worth exploring.

4. I selected the “Today View” widget idea to explore further.

5. Asking myself, “What am I assuming to be true in order for this idea to work?,” I identified 6 key assumptions that my solution rested on.

6. Next I formed these assumptions into testable hypotheses.

7. This provided the basis for a small 4-participant study. I reached out to friends and family to discuss their recent experiences using the YNAB mobile app.

I keep all my research data as organized as possible. I also optimize the data for sharing, which is crucial when collaborating with others.

8. After analyzing my results, there were 5 key findings that taught me something about the validity of my hypotheses, and would consequently inform my design.

9. I sketched a variety of design concepts to rapidly explore what might work for my “Today View” widget.

10. Next, I brought some of my sketches to life by getting them in InVision and creating a simple, clickable prototype.

11. Finally, I refined the visual design, referencing Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines to stay within iOS standards.


Out of 450 applicants for the design position at YNAB, I made it into their top 7 and got multiple interviews. Even though I did not receive an offer, I consider this project a marked success. Moreover, it was an excellent chance for me to exercise my design skills for mobile.