The Story Behind
We started out this project a few months ago when some of us had realized that even if we were sort of drowning in personal finance apps, there still didn’t seem to be one that was simple to use, yet powerful enough to be really useful. While most of the expense tracker apps today help us understand our financial past - how we spend our money - they do little in helping us plan our future. And the few that do, aren’t really well designed and make it hard to follow through.
After having built hundreds of apps for our clients in the past few years, we decided to take this challenge personally and fix personal finance apps. We set out to build Dollarbird, an app that would be very easy to use, but powerful and flexible enough to really allow people with different needs to become better at managing their finances. This app would also have a beautiful design and be a delight to use.
Driven by one of our guiding principles "make things as simple as possible, but not simpler", we looked for a framework that would be powerful, easy to understand and already familiar to users. It needed to have the right balance between structure and simplicity to be really helpful and make it easy to follow through.
We wanted to help people become better at managing their finances by giving them the complete toolset to understand their finances, make a plan and help them follow it. We thought that a calendar is the best framework for this.
Making it real
So, we took the good old tool used by our ancestors for thousands of years (that is still one of the most used mind-tools today) and modeled it to fit perfectly into our mobile user’s lives.
Our main objective was keeping the user engaged in order for him to form a habit of using the app daily - the only chance of following through with his plan.
We focused on gesture-based navigation, actions instead of buttons. That’s how we came up with the “pull down to add transaction” feature. Other navigations like switching between months in the calendar, opening and switching between charts are all gesture-based. Furthermore, we wanted to keep every action on one screen. Hence, on the “Add transaction” screen the user can type in the price and notes of a given transaction, can select a date, set an alert and a reminder for it - all on the same screen.
Also, when we started the visual design we wanted to keep things as simple as possible. As we used colors for the categories - one of the key elements of our app, we didn’t really use any for other UI elements, again bringing content in front. Likewise, there are no unnecessary elements on the screen, every icon, every button has a function. We didn’t choose flat design because it was trendy, we chose it because it was the best approach for the app.
Dollarbird was very well received both by the users and by the press. The user feedback confirms that Dollarbird is a great solution for the management of their personal finances, as it is extremely easy to use and has all the features they were looking for a long time in a budgeting app. And all this coming in a beautiful design that makes them enjoy using it.
Furthermore, the reviews talk about a great product that comes with a different approach to solving people’s budgeting needs and that managed to stand out in an already over-saturated market.
Sometimes it’s worth listening to your gut feeling and just do what you feel is right. If you think about it rationally, making another personal finance app for a saturated market is crazy. But when you come up with a solution that you would absolutely use everyday, we say go ahead! We did that and now we are here. It’s not just a tagline we use, we really built Dollarbird with the care that you put in when making something with passion. Besides the amazing feedback we got from those we built this for, this FWA prize reassured us that we can deliver on our brand promise of creating apps to delight and motivates us to a great extent.
Halcyon Mobile is a mobile app design and development company. We’re the fine combination of “Western” design and culture + the precision of “Eastern” technical skills, focused on creating beautiful humane apps and tech products.