Facilitating Mobile Application Design

I led a team of designers to success during this mobile application design project for Sezzle.






UX concepts, UI screens, Interactive Prototypes


1 semester

Project overview

Project Context

During this industry-sponsored school project, I served as a "team lead" meaning that I would be instructing a team of designers, providing strategy-based assistance and serving as the lead designer.

Sezzle is a highly rated buy now, pay later (BNPL) solution. The company provides an alternative payment platform offering interest-free installment plans at select stores.

The Task

My team was tasked with reimagining the mobile, in-store directory to intuitively present shoppers with the merchants and products they want to see and help them discover new stores and products that interest them.

User Group

The user group that my team was told to cater to were college students who are new to Sezzle and have no credit history.


In order to get grounded in Sezzle's space, I instructed my team to conduct analysis work on directly and indirectly related applications.

User & Competitor Research

In order to enter this method with purpose and intent, my team laid out a few goals that they planned to achieve through this method:

  • Identify elements that make these apps successful or weak, using metrics such as their content hierarchy, visual design, ux flow
  • Explore user reviews to gather human feedback relating to the UX or UI
  • Leverage not only the direct comparison findings but also the non-direct, more analogous data
Key Insights + Action Items
  • fewer, unambiguous categories help users find what they need; too many choices can be debilitating
  • unknown merchants rely on products to be discovered by new shoppers
  • now that my team was more familiar with the space, I told my team to dig into our user group's spending tendencies and behavior

User Interviews

Prior to interviews, my team conducted a screening survey in order to focus on the people we should be speaking to. This helped us speak with people who fell into our target user group, as well as those who had never used a BNPL (buy now pay later) service.

Interview goals
  1. Recognize user shopping motivations
  2. Identify shopping pain points
  3. Discover financial status impact on shopping
Key Insights + Action Items
  • Online shopping makes users more price conscious
  • It is quicker to locate items while online shopping
  • There is a general confidence regarding budget management
  • After getting these user insights, our team chose to explore the different states of the shopping experience within the BNPL arena

Journey Mapping

The journey map that my team created was based on a synthesis of the research we had gathered. The map below contains the actions, emotions, thoughts, and questions the user would experience throughout their shopping journey.

Key Insights + Action Items
  • Wish lists make it easy to save items for long periods of time, which is a feature we should include for non-immediate purchases
  • Finding online deals is much easier; therefore, we should show deals on the discovery page for business and user benefit
  • Online shopping takes less time than in-person, so our team should centralize all functionality within this one app

Evaluate, Pivot, Adapt

At this point my team was at a crossroads for where to take the project. We had some good research under our belts, but we weren't quite sure where to take it. I knew that this is where my leadership skills would have to come into play.

I helped my team during this pivot by asking ourselves a few questions:

  • Think about the customer and ask "what does the customer want out of this application?"
  • Create goals that you plan to accomplish for the user by the end of the project
  • Let the created goals steer your ideation and design process going forward, as this will drive creativity through intent

I was happy to get my team out of this strategic rut and help them advance with refreshed creativity moving forward.

Hypothesis Statements

At this point, I guided my team toward thinking about how they could leverage their research insights and group them via an affinity diagram for sketching preparation. These groups helped create "How Might We" questions. These address the paint points found in research that the team wanted their ideation to fulfill, as well as serve as inspiration for the hypothesis (goal) statements.

The purpose of the hypothesis statements was to establish an action and goal that they planned to achieve through ideation while aligning with Sezzle's business mission. My team's pre-ideation hypothesis statements are shown below:

Initial Sketching + Wireframes

Keeping their hypothesis statements in mind, I encouraged my team to strategize our sketching based on these statements and try to enter the creative method with intent to visualize the improved app flow.

After a few rounds of sketching, my team came up with the core features that our application would need in order to accomplish Sezzle's goal and meet user needs.

Since the sketches were very low fidelity, our team chose to create digital, slightly higher-fidelity prototypes to better portray our application's functionality and flow.

1 - Onboarding
2 - Product Discovery
3 - Wish List
4 - Product Comparison
5 - In-App checkout

Concept Testing

After creating our initial prototypes, I instructed my team to seek immediate user group feedback in order to iterate and continue rising in fidelity. Our team conducted 5 tests with our concept.

This test contained two scenarios that asked users to describe what they noticed and enjoyed from our onboarding and product discovery features to get a baseline understanding of user feedback for the beginning of our experience.

  • Learn the user’s thoughts on progression of events
  • Determine areas for improvement based on other app experiences
  • Identify the perceived value of the concept
  • account creation and onboarding
  • product discovery and selection
Key Insights + Action Items
  • Product comparison is desirable
  • Finding and buying products in one place makes buy now, pay later more desirable
  • After receiving good feedback from our users and sponsors, I advised my team to further build out the concept and conduct more testing

Mid-Fidelity Prototypes

After conducting our concept testing and receiving good feedback, I advised my team to keep building the digital mockups in order to get better, more detailed testing feedback.

Furthermore, this was done by making their prototypes interactive (clickable) so that the user would be able to get a more realistic, on-par feeling of what the end-to-end experience would be like for themselves.

Usability Testing

After creating interactive prototypes, I asked my team to think about a primary goal for usability testing. The primary goal was to evaluate how effective their iterated app design is at helping shoppers find the products they are looking for.

In order to provide our users with a task, they were instructed to "find a couch they liked in order to furnish their new apartment". This helped to give them a goal as they navigated the application's steps and features.

Scenarios - full experience

During the testing session, they asked the user to focus on creating their account, looking for the couch through product discovery, compare the couch to another existing couch in their wishlist and then add the couch to their cart.

  • Account Creation & Onboarding
  • Product Discovery & Selection
  • Product Comparison
  • Add to Cart & Checkout
Key Insights + action items
  • Value scales need indicators
  • Search page navigation is poor
  • Selection for product comparison is confusing


After testing and prior to creating the final prototypes, Sezzle voiced a concern regarding the application's color contrast. In order to address this concern, my team made adjustments to the color palette and overall style-guide being used for the application.

I instructed my team to look into the WCAG Web Accessibility Standards to ensure that this application would be AA compliant.


High Fidelity Mockups

After ensuring that our application's contrast ratios were acceptable, my team advanced to creating the final high fidelity mockups. With testing insights incorporated, my team used a combination of Sezzle's provided style guide and polishing to create these final prototypes:

Stakeholder Feedback

My team presented our process and final designs to Sezzle executives and their design team. They were extremely pleased with my team's work, ability to pivot, factor in human visual accessibility, business need accommodation, and our overall design intent.

Upon completion of the project, Sezzle has incorporated our ideas into the app. Their app rating on the ios App Store increased from 4.6 stars to 4.9 stars.

What I Learned

  • Leading a team and pivoting out of creative ruts can help keep momentum
  • Shifting visual design skills to a mobile mindset can be tricky
  • Mobile usability is much different than web-based UI as hand and touch ergonomics must be factored in
  • Using a company's mission as a primary driver for design work can help fuel great work
  • Human accessibility cannot be ignored while designing a platform from the ground up

Would you like to know more?

Please reach out to me if you'd like more information on my projects or if you just want to chat about design!