Design Process

To deliver an end product that meets our client’s aspirations and also serves the needs of real PINACLE operators, we employed a multi-step process which incorporated considerable field research, design, testing, and iteration.

Contextual Inquiries and Interviews

We conducted contextual inquiries with 17 PINACLE operators in over 12 companies in 3 cities to identify breakdowns and better understand their current workflow, how they perform financial tasks and what they rely on to make decisions. We followed up on our contextual inquiry with interviews to understand users' motivations and frustrations in depth.

Affinity Diagramming

To make sense of all the data, we categorized all our data into 450 post-it notes, creating a large affinity diagram. Through this affinity diagram, we categorized our findings and extracted meaningful insights. Our insights included users' sentiments about the PINACLE app, specific breakdowns, and workflows of small and medium size businesses.

Brainstorming and Ideation

With the help of PNC, we began the ideation process with a large number of new design ideas that brings value to PINACLE for small to medium sized businesses. Based on user and client feedback, our team underwent a process of validation and iteration in which we narrowed down and evolved our design concepts.

In a visioning session, we generated over 60 design ideas based on our findings. This was a great opportunity to work closely with our clients and the UX designers from the PNC PINACLE product team.

We also had a unique opportunity to attend the PINACLE User Group Conference, where we spoke with over 50 PINACLE operators and collected qualitative and quantitative feedback on our concepts through speed dating ideas, surveys, and a group workshop.

Low fidelity prototyping

Mid fidelity prototyping

Usability Testing

Prototyping and Usability Testing

After refining and validating the list of design ideas, we moved on to prototyping them using different tools: POP, Sketch, Invision, and Principle. At each stage of the prototypes, we conducted concept and usability testing with different PINACLE operators.

For each stage of prototyping, we received feedback from users and clients. We took this feedback and iterated upon our prototypes accordingly, ultimately narrowing it down to 4 high fidelity prototypes that were the most exciting, implementable and impactful concepts.

Feature 1

Transaction Timeline

Track, understand and forecast cash position over time

Operators can easily track and understand their cash position by visualizing the data already in PINACLE. This can save small businesses valuable time and money as well as make PINACLE an indispensable tool for understanding the health of their business.

Feature 2

Actionable Shortcuts

Take quick actions on meaningful information

Small and medium businesses can immediately take actions on-the-go where they need it the most. This would create less cognitive load for operators as they use PINACLE and boost usage as operators can get more done quicker.

Feature 3

Custom Email Recap

Schedule an email with the notifications you care about

PINACLE and its notifications should conform to operators’ style of working and directly augment their existing routines, enabling them to be more efficient. This can be done by leveraging PINACLE’s existing data and notification infrastructure.

Feature 4

3D Touch

Directly jump into the module you care about

Operators should be able to quickly access the modules they want on-the-go. Keeping in line with PNC’s reputation with quickly adopting cutting-edge technologies like TouchID, we wanted to explore if we could leverage some new iOS technologies to enable operators’ quickly access information.


Overall, this was a challenging, yet exciting 7 month long project that I was lucky to be on with some amazing and talented teammates. Of course, there were a few bumps on the road, but despite it all, it was awesome to work with real clients and to travel to various cities to conduct user testing, talk to real people, and to know my designs were going to make a huge positive impact on their workflow and productivity. I want to thank our clients from PNC Bank - Garett Rogers, Howard Forman and Mark Vizza for their enthusiasm and proactive support, and for the opportunities given to us.

And ofcourse, special thanks to Alan Qiu, Andrew Viny, Apoorv Narang, and Nana Choi, for helping me grow into a better designer. You guys rock.