Cecilia Huster, User Experience Designer

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Two days to extend the vision: Hackathon

The vision of Financial Engines founders' was to help ordinary Americans retire with dignity. For twenty years, the company has done so by giving customers advice on how to invest their 401(k), depending on how far away they are from their desired retirement age and their financial risk tolerance. For a fee, they can also take over and manage your 401(k) for you in accordance with the long-term financial philosophy of the company and its founders. However, the company had nothing to offer people once they retire. For a variety of reasons, the time was ripe to add post-retirement advice and management to the product. That was my idea for the Hackathon. The name of the team was "Already Retired."

Before the Hackathon, I recruited other team members, including developers, a content writer and a financial researcher. I laid out my vision for them, and we reached an agreement on what we wanted to accomplish in the two days available to us:

If you've participated in a Hackathon, you'll understand that the event itself is a bit of a blur in my mind. But I vividly remember being the first team to present our hack at the Hackathon Demo for the entire company, including many executives. Many of my coworkers at Financial Engines burn for the mission of the company, as do I. Some said that they got goosebumps when I presented our hack and told them that to continue helping ordinary Americans to live with dignity throughout their retirement was the natural extension of our founders' vision.

Choice page

The email was meant to be sent to customers who we thought might already be retired, once we've added the ability to capture that information to the Financial Engines system. The main call to action in the email takes the user to a selection page. In our hack, it asked the user the question "Are you working?" and gave the user three choices:

  1. No, I'm retired
  2. Yes, I'm working
  3. It's complicated

Investment Scorecard wireframe, 2015


Seeing that this is the beginning of a sales funnel, I wouldn't be surprised if the third option would be dropped during the optimization stage. In the Invision prototype only the first option worked. It took users to a financial dashboard that presented the information that came out of the proof of concept in a human-readable form using Financial Engines branding.

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