Creating a better bill splitting experience
Splitting the dinner bill between a group of friends is never easy. How many drinks did you have? Who shared those spring rolls? How much should I pay? What about the tip? Some people will want to pay for solely what they ate and drank, while others just want to split the bill equally to avoid awkwardly talking about money and wrestling with mental math. Trust me, we’ve all been there before. My challenge was to explore ways the experience of splitting a check at a restaurant between a group can be improved by a mobile application.
A quick and easy tool to solve even the most complex checks
I believe that by designing a simple cost splitting app that helps a group of diners to quickly and efficiently input and split a check by person, by item, or evenly, as well as give tipping suggestions will result in an improved bill splitting experience.
Research and User Experience
Uncovering existing pain points
In order to get a better idea of peoples’ specific pain points, motivations, attitudes, preferences, and context related to the process of splitting the bill, I surveyed 10 participants. Overall, some common trends surfaced, which helped paint a more complete picture of what I’m dealing with and a better understanding of the problems I should be focusing on in my solution.
- Most people described splitting the bill as awkward, uncomfortable, difficult, and time consuming
- People felt splitting the bill evenly was unfair because of varying order prices
- People found the most difficult part to be adding up what everyone owes + the tip
- The tip was often given responsibility to one person or was simply forgotten about by most
- On average, people usually split the bill between 5 people • 90% prefer to pay by card, even when in a group
Check out some of the interesting findings and statistics we gathered from our surveys and interviews below.
Identifying opportunity gaps in the market
While cost splitting apps do currently exist, I found through my competitor analysis that many issues still exist with these apps. Many of them are still too complicated or not customizable enough to allow for certain situations such as when diners want to split by item or fairly divide the tip. I believe this presented a gap in the market that I could take advantage of with BillSplit.
What features will give the most value to users?
Using the insights from my research allowed me to define a strategy for what experience I would need to provide with my solution. I established main objectives for this strategy to ensure the experience would satisfy user needs and solve existing pain points.
My main objectives were:
- Helping people split their bills quickly and easily
- Making sure bills are split fairly and correctly
- Calculating the appropriate tips/taxes each person owes
- Providing users with up to date information of who has and hasn’t paid
Defining the mobile experience
Before jumping into the design phase, I created a series of user flows. This allowed me to define the intended steps each user might take through various pages and actions within the app to complete their goal. Not only would this allow me to focus on what users need to accomplish, but also how to deliver that experience in the most effective manner possible in my design.
Here are some tasks users can do with BillSplit:
- Split the bill by item, by person, or evenly
- Calculate accurate tips and taxes based on each person’s order
- Share bill total
- Request money via payment integrations
- View history of bills that have been paid or still need to be paid
- Update user settings and payment info
Bringing the interface to life
To illustrate my user flows and define the interface of my design including layout and structure, I created a series of wireframes. Wireframes were especially helpful for me to get quick feedback from users through testing and validate my design direction before moving into more high fidelity designs.
Scan the receipt to easily input items
The main screen allows users to easily input the items on their receipt by scanning it with the camera on their smartphone. Now users no longer have to worry about spending an absurd amount of time manually inputting each item on their bill.
Split the bill based on item, person, or evenly
Once a bill has been itemized, a user can quickly assign the appropriate items to each group member’s total by tapping on their icon. They can also easily sync to their existing contacts to add a new group member to the bill.
Accurate tip and tax splitting
Calculating the tip and tax is one of the most difficult parts of the bill splitting process. Therefore it’s no surprise that it often gets unfairly left to one person to handle or even forgotten altogether. Now BillSplit can do all the hard work by calculating accurate tips and taxes based specifically on each person’s order.
Know who owes who with bill breakdowns
Know exactly what each member owes with complete bill breakdowns. Easily request money via payment integrations such as Venmo and PayPal, a feature which is especially helpful for that friend that seems to always forget his wallet at home. You can also share a bill total via text or email so that no one has to download the app just to remember what they owe.
Keep track of IOU’s with bill history
View a full history of your bills, as well as see who has and hasn’t paid their part of the bill. You can also easily make additional changes to a bill or view past bill receipts to reference in case you missed something the night before.
Customize your profile based on your needs
Customize your user profile to get the most out of BillSplit. You can stay in the loop with notifications tailored to your needs or handle payments with ease by connecting to payment services such as Venmo or Paypal.
Given more time with this project, I’d love to be able to test it with potential users, especially during a group dinner scenario. The feedback from testing would be incredibly helpful for iterating further on my design in order to create a more beneficial experience. I’ve learned that before adding any new features, it’s important to put things on hold until the MVP is up and running. This allows you to gain some feedback before putting too much time into the development of something that has issues on the ground level.
What I learned
The benefits of Lean UX
Because this was such a fast design sprint, working with lean UX principles was essential for making sure I finished this project within the short time frame. In order to speed things up, I realized the importance of making a hypothesis and the need for assumptions to inform that hypothesis. I had to be “quick and dirty” with my research, relying on just user surveys and competitive analysis. This allowed me to obtain rapid feedback about the user’s context and behaviors as well as the market Billsplit would be situated in. I learned how important it is to generate your MVP quickly and get it out in front of potential users to put it to the test. I believe using this strategy allowed me to be more efficient with my time than I had been in previous projects, where I was more focused on deliverables.
View the prototype