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Cash Counsellor is an app geared toward post-secondary students with limited financial knowledge that are looking to deepen their understanding of money matters, and get their finances in order. Users can set goals, create budgets, build monthly personal cash flow statements, see all their assets and liabilities in one place, view their credit score, and set up bill payments. Cash Counsellor is also an educational app. Definitions are provided to improve financial literacy, and the Market Mastermind game that is integrated within the app’s interface has investing-related trivia questions.

Project Overview


  • Occupation: post-secondary students

  • Age: 18-25

  • Income: varied, mostly hold part-time jobs and have student loans.  

  • Limited financial literacy. 

  • Tech-savvy 

  • Lead busy lives and seek financial independence 

  • Values include self-improvement and education



  • To develop an app that integrates design psychology principles for social good



  • Adobe XD

  • Photoshop

  • Illustrator 

  • Premiere Pro



  • Graphic toolbox

    • Logo

    • Colour palette

    • Typefaces

    • Imagery /videography

    • Illustration

  • Digital promotional assets 

    • 2 Instagram posts

  • App prototype



The research process began by downloading existing financial apps and finding caveats that Cash Counsellor could remedy. The two main competitor apps are iSpending and Intuit Mint. iSpending allows users to develop a personal cash flow statement, but its capabilities are restricted to that alone. Some features are counter-intuitive, such as the fact that users have to go to their settings in order to add or delete transaction categories. Mint is more similar to Cash Counsellor in the sense that it consolidates various aspects of users’ financial information, but its customizability is limited.

Subsequent research on design psychology focused on how laws such as Gestalt Psychology, the Von Restorff Effect, Hick's Law, Fitts's Law, and Dark Patterns are used to manipulate in UX/UI contexts. 

Further research focused on financial matters, the main source being Madura & Singh's 2018 Personal Finance (4th Canadian Edition) textbook. 


Iterative design process 

The visual identity specifically relates to how managing your finances properly can lead to freedom. Featured videos are luxury lifestyle videos to make people to want to be rich. The target audience can see the imagery and think, “I want that to be me someday” and will use that as motivation to continue to use the app to reach their goals. Cash Counsellor is AODA compliant so that it can be used with ease by anyone. There is a focus on data visualization with pie charts and bar graphs to make information more digestible. Helvetica Neue was chosen as the typeface because it is a modern legible typeface that speaks to the practicality of the app. Hierarchy is established through font colour, size, and layout. Copy has been used in onboarding to not only explain what the app is, but also to persuade users to stay engaged. The first onboarding screen tells users what the app does, the subsequent screen explains the benefit of the app (reducing money management confusion), and the third screen speaks to the target audience and explains why youth should consider their financial situation sooner rather than later.  


The app uses design psychology techniques to keep users engaged, including the Von Restorff Effect, Hick’s Law, and Fitts’s Law. The Von Restorff Effect states that when multiple different objects are shown, the one object that differs from the rest is most likely to be remembered. Cash Counsellor integrates this principle through its call-to-action buttons, which stand out through the use of shape, colour, and subtle drop shadows. Hick’s Law states that the time it takes for a person to make a decision increases as the amount of possible choices increase. This principle applies to the onboarding process; the opening questionnaire is brief and easy so that users can jump right into the app. Each question has only 5 possible answers in order to get users to make a quick selection and hop right into it. It is undesirable for users to spend too much time with the onboarding process, or else they’ll get fatigued, annoyed, and give up before even getting to explore the interface. Fitts’s Law states that large targets and less time needed to find them keep interaction costs low. This applies to Market Mastermind; once users reach the main game screen, there is only one large button (“spin”) to lead users to play right away.


Aside from UX/UI-specific design laws, the two main psychology techniques to keep users hooked is gamification and easy task-completion. The checklist is designed so that users feel a sense of accomplishment when they do simple things (such as adding their assets to the app). Task completion gives people a feeling of accomplishment, which has been proven to release dopamine. Games are highly addictive; the gamification of investing information is at least a productive way in which users can spend their time, because they are actively absorbing information that can potentially help them make informed investing decisions. You can compete against your friends, prompting users to get their friends to download the app as well.


Our attention is finite and much of it is stolen by counter-productive distractions. Through the identification of caveats in existing finance apps, the development of a cohesive visual identity and persuasive copy, and an integration of design psychology into the app’s interface, Cash Counsellor is a way in which technology can instead be used with intention.

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