Piggyback: Mobile App for Couples

Mobile app designed to encourage behavior change in couples



Sponsored by EA-PopCap

Gamified mobile app enabling couples to save up for shared trips through completing cost-saving, cook-at-home challenges.



Timeline: 7 Weeks
My Role: Research, Interaction Design, Hi-Fi Comps


How might we help cohabiting, millennial couples identify and reach savings goals for shared experiences?

team members

Marina Lazarevic
Shelley Xia
Madison Zeller


     Link the app with your
     significant other.


     Discuss your travel
     budget goals and
     break them up into
     manageable steps.


     Motivate each other
     to complete weekly
     personalized cook-at-
     home challenges.


     Stay on track with
     reminders, reflection
     prompts, and
     progress charts.


     Reach your travel
     goals together by
     planning, saving, and
     collecting rewards.

process overview



cohabitation is the norm

Approx. 7.5 million unmarried couples live together. That number has grown by more than 1,500% in the last half century [1].


no system for financial planning

A study found that 53% of unmarried couples have no joint system for managing spending [2].


eating out is a habit

Millennials eat out 3.4 times a week, compared with 2.8 times a week for non-millennials [3].

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 10.14.10 AM.png
Young couples are choosing to live together, but don’t have a system to manage joint expenses. In addition, millennials spend a good portion of their paychecks on eating out.




behavior change in individuals

Self-efficacy is one’s sense of ability. We can enhance efficacy by breaking behaviors into sequential steps and by providing encouragement to highlight progress and achievement.

behavior change in couples

Couple’s interdependence can shift motivation from self-interest to actions that are best for the continuation of the joint unit. There is a notion that “communal coping” and “co-motivation” may lead to positive behavior change.


We studied different game elements and frameworks to understand the various ways in which we could effectively gamify behavior change.



We learned that couples aspire to travel together, but face obstacles such as time, money, and differing interests.
The survey also highlighted couples’ tendency to regularly dine out as well as cook together.

We used availability sampling (i.e. posting on Facebook) for convenience and are aware of its limitations.


visual brain dump

We let our minds wander and produced a page of unrestricted drawings centered around relationships. These doodles helped us surface emerging patterns. 

action verbs

This exercise had us take an idea and tweak it by visually applying an action to it. This act of “morphing” one thing into another helped us gain fresh perspectives on various aspects of relationships.

51 ideas > 18 thumbnails > 3 concepts

After generating 51 ideas, we sorted them into categories and eliminated concepts that didn’t have a specific behavior change, that were too vague, or that were underdeveloped. We then mapped a narrowed set of 18 concepts onto a 2x2 matrix:

2x2 matrix

The Activity vs. Emotion axis distinguished between concepts focused on doing versus reflecting, and the Short-Term vs. Long-Term axis distinguished between concepts that could be used over long periods of time versus concepts that might have an expiration date or lose value over time.

We gravitated towards concepts that were in the “Long-Term” quadrants. Our top three:

  1. App prompting couples to engage in face-to-face dialogue when phones are put on silence at bedtime
  2. App enabling couples to playfully communicate their feelings to one another while apart through virtual representations

  3. App helping couples to easily save up for a vacation or date by eliminating frivolous spending habits together*

concept refinement

*We decided to go with this last “bucket list” concept because we liked having motivation invoked by a real-life, tangible reward.

target user

Unmarried, cohabiting couples actively looking to improve quality time together


  • Millennial couples living in the United States
  • Joint and individual use


Help couples identify and reach savings goals for shared experiences

       Illustration: Shelley Xia

       Illustration: Shelley Xia


From our initial storyboard and UI sketches, we got feedback that a lot of the saving behaviors were represented as individual activities. This feedback helped us refine our concept, which ultimately would encourage couples to save up for a trip through joint experiences (i.e. cooking at home together).

interaction flow

Challenge #1:
Figure out when and how to incorporate two users (Partner 1 and Partner 2). We decided to highlight their joint involvement by having certain decision points require dual participation

Challenge #2:
Address the “non-ideal” path: what happens if a couple doesn’t complete a weekly challenge or isn’t able to achieve their big trip goal in time? Our solution was to integrate reflection tasks. 

feature-value matrix

We had an abundance of feature ideas and needed to prioritize the leading set. Each team member scored features by assigning values of -1 to 3 (see legend below). Each feature was evaluated for how well it contributed to a critical user or system requirement.

Following the individual assessment, we aggregated the scores to identify “must-have” features (those that scored in the top five for at least two team members) and designate others as low priority (those that scored in the bottom five for at least two team members).

high-fidelity comps


what i would do differently...

  • Think through baseline metrics in more detail to ensure couple is actually saving money and meeting specific goals.
  • Post survey to message boards and sources other than facebook to get a larger and more representative sample.
  • Seek feedback early and often - our colleagues' critiques were extremely valuable and helped us solidify our concept.

next steps...

  • Create a fully interactive prototype and conduct user testing.
  • Ponder integration with a money-management service like Mint for more comprehensive tracking and personalized savings suggestions.
  • Expand into other savings areas such as transportation and entertainment.