Venmo Groups

A new feature designed to help make both finding people and handling transactions more efficient.

Hero Image of Venmo Groups

Overview

From being very skeptical about Venmo, to it becoming my goto method of handling transactions with friends, I’ve gotten familiar with the product. However, I found myself getting frustrated when I go out with large groups and try to find someone that I’m not friends with on the app. I also wondered if there could be a more efficient method of trying to request from or pay multiple people.

Problems

Taking notes of the difficulties I came across when using Venmo, I narrowed it down to these problems and needs:

Problems

  1. Requesting money from many people, especially people who are not in your friends list, can be tedious.
  2. It can become repetitive to request or pay a fixed amount from the same group of people for a fixed duration of time.
  3. There is not an obvious incentive in wanting to become friends with someone on Venmo.

Assumptions and Constraints

While this is a side project, I still wanted to complete it as though it were to actually ship. In doing so, I worked off of possible constraints and assumptions:

Assumptions

  1. Majority of users share the same frustration I have with the tediousness of requesting money from many people.
  2. QR code is not an efficient design, but more of a last resort.
  3. Venmo engineers are unicorns. They can make anything.

Constraints

  1. Not allowing for an automated payment feature as that turns Venmo more into a bank rather than a virtual wallet.
  2. Designing with Venmo’s style guide in mind, restraining from more contrasting visual design changes.

Solutions

My solution was to implement a new feature called Venmo Groups. With Groups, you can search for people based on location, making it easier to find many people at once. It also eliminates repetitive tasks by allowing you to make multiple payments in a single transaction.

Search by Location

When creating a group, there is an option to search for nearby Venmo users by tracking their location and compiling a list of them. From there, simply select the people that will be part of the group. This makes it easy to find people, is faster than requesting from people one by one, and also makes it convenient for the user to stay connected with them through the app.

Prototype for creating a new group.

Image of various screens for Venmo Groups

Various screens for Venmo Groups.

Multiple People in a Single Transaction

Instead of having to pay or request from the same group of people over and over, say for paying rent or for Spotify Family, Groups allow people to pay or request a fixed amount from everyone who is a member of that group, simplifying the process.

Image of user flow for Venmo Group transactions

User flows for transactions with the group or single members.

Prototype of the user flow for a group transaction.

If the amount varies per member than standard, single transactions can still be done within the group.

Prototype of the user flow for single transactions within a group.

What I Learned

The project took me about four days to complete, several hours each day. Here are the key lessons that I learned from it:

Design Systems Lead to Invisible Design

I learned and believe that good design is invisible, which means that people can use the product without second thought because it did exactly what they wanted to do with no unpleasent surprises.

As this was a side project, I wasn’t able to get it into many hands to get feedback. However, I still learned that one aspect of invisible design is familiarity, and designing this project under Venmo’s style guide was good practice to keep my designs as familiar as possible.

Prototype to Prove, not for Show

While creating prototypes with Origami, I realized how much easier it was for me to prototype for the sake of proving my interaction, as opposed to showing off cool transitions and animations

This was mostly because Venmo is already an established product with its interface and transitions in place, allowing me to not worry about those aspects so much and focus more on the user experience and thinking about what actions people might want to take next.