Applying a user-centred approach to a Starling Kite problem

Starling Bank card

My children (aged 13 and 9) have had the new kids Starling Kite card for the last month.

The Starling Kite card allows you to allocate money into your child’s own ’space’ within your account. They are then sent a debit card that they can use to withdraw cash from a cash machine or pay in a shop with contactless or chip and pin. Starling’s idea behind Kite is to make children more responsible with their money and help them build good spending habits. 

The children really enjoy using it. I think this comes mainly from a feeling grown up and not having to worry about bringing cash. In a pandemic world, where cash is less accepted, it is a perfect solution for them. Despite the good start, we have come across a big problem.

I decided to use this problem as a little user research challenge to see how if my children also found it a problem and, if so, how they wanted to solve to the problem. I decided to get them to take part in a mini user interview. Here’s how it went:

Interview script
Interview script

The only way my children know the balance of their card is by asking me. I can view their balances in the Starling Bank app. Sometimes I text it to them just so they know for sure when going out but keeping this up to date is a little frustrating for me. From these interviews, I can conclude that both children also find this problem. 

Together we set about creating a basic sketched wireframe based on the children’s needs and the current ‘adult’ Starling app. This is what we came up with:


We came up with three screens which displayed the information that the children thought was important. Their current Starling balance is the main feature that both children need. This is prominently displayed on the first and second screen.

A display of how much they had spent that week is also displayed on the first and second screen with the second going into more details. We discussed this at length. The current Starling app shows me how much I have spent each day however, the children’s spending is less frequent. We decided that a display of their weekly spend was more useful to them.

The third screen has a list of transactions so the children can see, with a quick scroll, where they have spent their money and where and when money was added to their account.

Maybe Starling could look into this further…I’d be happy to help! 


Design of Everyday Things

This book has been recommended on pretty much every design booklist that I have seen so I have bought myself a copy. Looking forward to seeing what I can learn…


Teaching/UX crossovers

This week I applied for a UX role. While putting my application together I tried to link my transferable skills from my previous career as a teacher with the role of a UX designer.

In my application I discussed how teachers must be user-centred. They need to find out where each pupil is currently at and where they are coming from in order to create a meaningful learning journey for them. A step further is to find out what excites this group of students and develop lessons that are engaging and encourage a desire to learn more. Accessibility is a key area for teachers to consider when planning. For example pupils with dyslexia, EAL or a low reading age would need some adaptations or additional strategies in place to enable them to access the content of a lesson.

It was only later on in the week that I began to search for teachers who changed career and become UX designers. I was interested in their journeys and successes. In my search I came across this blog post which sums up all of the cross over skills between teaching a UX in an eloquent and detailed way.

He starts by listing the responsibilities that teachers have that will be familiar to UX designers. His list reads:

  • User research
  • Prototyping
  • Visual communication
  • Empathy
  • Interaction design
  • Analytics
  • Communication skills
  • And much more…

He discusses each individually but I particularly enjoyed reading about Usability testing and iterating as I hadn’t looked at what I did as a teacher from this perspective before.

“Teachers use usability tests every day.
We use both qualitative and quantitative data from those usability tests to inform and iterate our lesson planning.”

This is so true! I remember once taking over mid-week from my job share. The maths lesson depended on them having done preparatory work the previous day. For one reason or another it hadn’t been done. As I was talking I could see that the kids had no idea what I was talking about! I iterated my lesson plan on the spot, adapted it to include what should have been done the day before and carried on.

Towards the end of the blog post Bennett states the following:

“Teaching gives you an edge and perspective that no other career can. As a teacher you are a researcher, a problem solver, an academic, a parent, a therapist, a coach, a designer, a collaborator, a philosopher, a scientist, a content creator, an entrepreneur, and much more.
But most importantly being a teacher gives you a perspective, a sensitivity, and empathy that most other fields don’t. And with that perspective you begin to understand the world in a holistic way.”

I can clearly see how the skills that I developed (and took for granted) as a teacher can mesh nicely with a career a UX design.

“UX is all about solving problems and developing solutions in order to improve the experience of a user. The question I’m left with is, who has more practice doing this than a teacher?”

I would love to hear from anyone else who has made the jump from teaching to UX. Please get in contact if you have!


The Last Few Months…

So at the end of November last year I asked a UX designer on twitter:

“What is the best way to career change into UX from a non-related career?”

Her answer was as follows:

  1. Get Educated
  2. Get Experience
  3. Get a Community

Here is how I have been working on these three since then:

1. Get Educated

Having tried a a few different free courses or trial courses (See previous blog post) I decided to go for it with the Treehouse UX Design Techdegree. I have just this week finished my tech degree and I have been bombarded with new information taught through videos, design practices and the projects themselves. Each project submitted receives a grading and personalised feedback which I have found invaluable. I’ll try to write more about the Techdegree in following post.

2. Get Experience

This one feels a little harder to do when I’m totally new to this area. I have spent some time at DWP digital in Newcastle (UK) shadowing a content designer and interaction designer and seeing how an Agile team works together. I was looking to do some further work experience at a local product and service design agency but due to the Coronavirus outbreak this has been put on hold for the time being.

3. Get a Community

One great feature of the Techdegree with Treehouse is their Slack channel. This enables us, as students, to ask questions , get projects reviewed before submitting, peer review other student’s projects and generally ask for advice if we are stuck.
I have also begun to follow various UX designers on Instagram and Twitter as well as receiving newsletters from experienced designers who have lots to share. Although this is pretty one sided at the moment, I am gaining a lot from their enthusuasm, daily inspirational posts and thought-provoking posts.
Probably the most important and part of this has been attending events. In the last few months I have been to:
Good Service doesn’t happen by accident, hosted by Orange Bus in Newcastle.
NUX Newcastle (November) – When UX meets BA
NUX Newcastle (January) – Better workshops with liberating structures.
I have met so many new people through each of these and hope to continue to attend these when they restart after the current pandemic!

My aim is to continue to work on these three things while also looking for a UX related role!

Starting out

Courses and Learning New Things!

In my journey to find out more about different areas of the tech world I completed a number of easy access online courses.

I began at FutureLearn which has a great number of short, online courses on a huge range of topics. I have currently completed:

Introduction to Cyber Security – The Open University

Digital Skills: Digital Marketing – Accenture

Digital Skills: User Experience – Accenture

Each of the courses was a great introduction to the area but the User Experience course piqued my interest the most so I looked around for other introductory courses.

Through an online search, I came across Career Foundry and completed their seven day short course. This left me wanting to know more but not yet ready to take the step to pay a lot of money for a longer, more intense course. Coursera was also mentioned to me as a good starting place. After having a look, I signed up for another free course; Introduction to User Experience Design by Georgia Tech. This course focused around a four step design process (requirements gathering, designing alternatives, prototyping and evaluation) along with some related techniques. This was a much deeper look at the design process and, although it used a lot of new terminology, was accessible enough for someone with no experience in the area to understand. It also provided lots of links to additional reading around the different parts of the course.

I am now hoping to start the Treehouse Techdegree program on UX design, starting with the free trial to see how I get on!