DESIGNING FOR ECONOMIC MOBILITY IN ALBUQUERQUE
Help low-income Albuquerque residents increase social mobility and economic opportunity by accessing financial city services
The Financial Wellness Calculator, a tool that helps low-income residents achieve financial stability by connecting them to city financial wellness services in their workplace. Check out the tool.
As New Mexico’s largest city, the City of Albuquerque is working to increase opportunities for economic development and social mobility for all residents. Code for America partnered with the Albuquerque Mayor’s Office to research and build interventions addressing the barriers that residents face in accessing critical information, services, and employment opportunities.
I collaborated cross-functionally to lead user research for the Albuquerque Fellowship Team. Our team worked with the City of Albuquerque Mayor's Office to understand the needs of low-income Albuquerque residents, many of whom are financially unstable and are often saddled with high-interest payday loans. We wanted to shift behavior and help residents save money, think about their futures and achieve upward mobility.
We spoke with Albuquerque residents at all levels of the community. Our central question was: What are the factors precenting residents from gaining skills and achieving socio-economic mobility?
- In-Depth Interviews
- Diary Studies
- Participatory Design
- In-Context Immersion
- Cognitive Task Analysis
- Rapid Prototyping
- Remote Usability Testing
Using open city data and census, our interaction designer and developer built some useful maps to help us understand the distribution of different financial products / services in Albuquerque. We learned that predatory loan services often outweigh safer loan options.
We learned that New Mexico has the highest percentage of working poor residents (44%), and that Albuquerque is the eighth poorest city in the country. Many residents live in a state of immediacy, unable to further themselves because they're too busy struggling to meet their basic needs. Two key themes emerged from our research:
We translated our insights into product hypotheses and decisions.
Check out the concepts we prototyped:
THE FINAL PRODUCT
The Financial Wellness Calculator is the City of Albuquerque's new tool that helps employers connect their struggling employees to city and government services, helping them achieve financial stability. Check it out.
DEFINING FINANCIAL WELLNESS
We first had to meaningfully define financial wellness. We reached out to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau for help. We learned that financial wellness is having financial security and freedom of choice in the present and future.
HOW IT WORKS
We used the CFPB's definition of financial wellness as a guiding framework. With the tool, an employer sends to an anonymous survey to their staff to better understand their financial health. The tool visualizes the survey data, illuminating problem areas and recommends city services that an employer can plug their staff into.
PILOTING & USABILITY TESTING
We've been piloting the Financial Wellness Calculator with Albuquerque employers and financial service providers. We've also been iteratively conducting rapid remote and in-person usability tests. We wanted to get actual data from employees to understand the most common financial-wellbeing needs across our piloting organizations. Our key goal was to work with Financial-wellness service providers in the community to map the employee needs to pre-existing services or create new one that employers can connect their employees to.
Each pilot organization has been helping us understand how to improve the usability They're helping us see trends in the needs of the community so that we can best align the Albuquerque city and government services with those needs. We’ve collected some interesting insights:
CODE FOR AMERICA SUMMIT CONFERENCE
Team Albuquerque presented it's Fellowship work in front of over 1,300 people at the Code for America Summit.