PiggyBack: mobile app for couples


gamified mobile app to help couples save money




Marina Lazarevic, Madison Zeller
Shelley Xia (me)


Research & Ideation
Interaction Design & Prototyping




How might we help cohabiting, millennial couples save up for shared trips by encouraging them to improve home cooking habits?


Design Process


foundational research

In order to design an effective solution, we conducted foundational research on behavior change and game / gamification theories. This timeline shows my team’s expansive research into several different topics throughout the project.


understanding Behavioral Change

We examined the concepts of self-efficacy and co-motivation as important factors of behavior change in people. Specifically, our interest in co-motivation piqued our interest in examining how interdependence can reorient motivation and promote positive behavior change in a couple dynamic (our target audience).

understanding Game Design

We found that the MDA Framework and Werbach's Game Elements Pyramid and Gamification Implementation process very informative in the game design of our app. We aimed to design a gamified app that is both educational and motivational for our target audience.



understanding relationships

This romantic relationships mind map helped us understand the various areas and aspects of the couple dynamic. Both Communication and Activities branches gave us inspiration moving forward. 



understanding what couples want

The results from our survey helped us understand what problems cohabitating couples struggled with (saving money), define what reward our app can give our users (travel/shared trips), and what behavior couples can change to help them save (spending less money on eating out.)  



concept ideation




group brainstorm

We brainstormed 51 ideas to help cohabitating couples enhance the quality time they spend together through a shared experience. We then did an "insight sort" and grouped the 51 concepts into 11 categories based on an agreed-upon clustering logic. These 11 themes helped us understand how our concepts shared similarities or exhibited differences.



EVALUATIng our ideas

After combing through all 51 concepts and evaluating whether or not they actually targeted a behavior change, we were able to narrow them down to 18 concepts to plot on a 2x2 matrix to help us discover what qualities we would like our app to have.  We  preferred to design an app that targeted long-term engagement in our users.




picking a concept

We decided to move forward with the concept “Our Bucket List,” later renamed to Piggyback. This concept appealed to us because it seemed the most feasible, viable, and desirable idea out of the three. 



Storyboarding the concept

Storyboarding assisted us in better understanding how our idea might work in front of real users. The highlighted frame emphasizes the joint experience of couples cooking at home to save together.



concept refinement



Competitive Assessment

This venn diagram was created to help us analyze the difference between our solution and a well-known financial app, Mint. The biggest difference is that our app focuses on cooperation and teamwork between the couple (our user) to foster a shared experience. Additionally, we scoped the app to focus specifically on the cooking (activity) and travel (goal/reward).



Features Refinement

At first, we wanted to create a robust app that featured many gamified features, such as quests, challenges, and goals. In order to create a stronger, focused MVP app experience, we scoped down to two instead of three tiers of gamified elements. 


Interaction Flow

This interaction flow demonstrates how Piggyback works as a system that leverages the couple dynamic. With the exception of set-up and onboarding individually, the majority of the app experience requires the teamwork and cooperation of both partners. Illustration credit: Marina Lazarevic



the product



Piggyback helps couples save up for trips through completing cook-at-home challenges.



How Piggyback works


the App Experience



As part of the onboarding process, the user will send her partner an invitation to join her in the app. Piggyback is designed for a couple and the interaction between the two users is a key aspect of the app experience. 


goal setup

Setting up the goal is a key part of the app experience. One partner can create a goal and share it with her significant other. Once the goal has been customized and agreed with both people, the couple can monitor their progress. 


completing challenges

Couples can take on weekly cook-at-home challenges to help them save up. The challenges encourage them to spend less money eating out and learn or improve a skill together as a team. Upon completing the challenge, the couple can deposit money into a virtual piggy bank.


reflection & rewards

After making their deposit, the couple is asked to complete a reflection on how they did. This encourages couples to be communicating to each other about their progress and financial planning. Finally, travel-related awards are available after each successful challenge.