“A penny saved is a penny earned,” the wise man said. However, when you have so many things to spend your money on, saving may be the last thing on your mind. Some finance apps, on the other hand, are determined to make saving not only simple but also enjoyable.
Money Dashboard is billed as the United Kingdom’s answer to Mint.com (the most popular personal finance management app in the US). It is an online application that allows you to track, organize, and manage your money. Once authorized, it can connect to all of your bank accounts; provide real-time graphical analysis of your spending; enable you to set and meet spending goals, and set alerts. Money Dashboard, on the other hand, is a read-only application; you cannot conduct any monetary transactions with it.
In this three-part series, we’ll look at three of these finance apps. They are changing the way we think about personal finance management with their interactive dashboard interfaces. Money Dashboard is the first in our series. With the use of Fusionchart’s financial dashboard, you can create beautiful graphs and charts in your personal finance applications.
Table of Contents
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The Header has three main links—Past Activity, Dashboard, Future Planner, and Account Settings and Help. The labels used in the Header are short and precise and use title-style capitalization (the first letter of each word is capitalized), making them easier to read.
However, the only indicator of a currently selected tab is a thin blue line as a highlight which is not a very strong visual cue for the user. There is also no visible connection between a selected tab and its respective content area.
The left column remains constant across the app’s various pages and gives a quick snapshot of your linked accounts. Each section has a help icon, clicking on which an information box opens which shares some simple tips with the user. This feature is an excellent way to educate new users about the app’s functionalities.
Clicking on Manage Accounts takes you to a new page where you can change the color used to represent that account, change login details of accounts, add new accounts and delete existing ones.
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This page also gives you information about when your account details were last updated.
However, they should consider making ‘2 HOURS’ as ‘2 HOURS AGO’ across the app. Sometimes, making things fool-proof helps!
Your Spending Section
The doughnut chart provides an overview of your spending across categories in the last 30 days. This data contains both the amount and a percentage of total spending (in the tooltip).
You can drill down into details of your spending in each category. Let’s say we click on Household. The first-level drill down shows you another doughnut chart with more information about your household spending.
You can drill down into this doughnut chart further. Let’s say we click on Supermarket:
We get a popup showing the specific details of our Supermarket visits (date, name of superstore, amount spent, etc.).
I like the detail they have gone into in this section. Also, to make users aware of a drill-down feature available for these charts, they have indicated it (Click on a section to drill down) in all the charts. (Related read: How to create an intuitive drill-down interface?)
However, the data labels of the doughnut chart make them look slightly cluttered. By avoiding overlapping of data labels and by connecting each data label to its respective wedge, they could make the doughnut chart look cleaner and less cluttered. (Here’s how we do it!)
The Payday and Credit Card Spending
The big, bold numbers in this section draw your attention—the number of days to your payday and your credit card spending for the month. Both are crucial figures, but they generate opposite emotions in you. This feature is displayed in the choice of colors and the icons used in their representation.
Current Account Balance Trends Section
This section compares the current account balances for each day of the ongoing calendar month to the previous month with line charts. It helps you to understand the trend of your account balance. The details for each date can be seen in the tooltips.
However, in the caption, the chart should mention the comparison to the previous month (e.g., the current account balance trends compared to the last month). This will set the context for the users even before they go into the particulars of the chart. (Related read: 5 tips for writing great chart captions)
Clicking on this chart takes you to the Past Activity > Balance History page.
This chart helps in spotting trends in your balance history over a longer period of time. The checkboxes in the My Accounts section (left column) help you to select the accounts you want to analyze.
At the bottom is a scrollable “mini-graph.” Using its sidebars and the bottom scrollbars, you can select the start date and length of the period of your analysis.
The Clear Cash section shows the amount of cash available in your Current Account(s) before payday, considering your budgeted outgoings and incomings. Simply put, it gives you an idea of the money available at your disposal and helps you to know if you can still afford that exotic beach vacation with your spouse.
The Adjust button takes you to the Future Planner > Budget Tracker section.
A process of gradual reveal follows on this page. At first, you get to see only broad figures of Money In and Money Out.
As you click on the arrows, you see more data. This reveal reduces the cognitive load on the user. More data is revealed only when the user shows interest (through a click).
This section shows the actual and predicted income and expenses of the month. The big, bold numbers and the upward and downward moving graph icons indicate what each value represents. The predicted values are shown in black using a smaller font size. Proper prioritization of data is crucial in dashboard design, and here it is achieved quite well.
This section allows you to set goals and uses a progress bar to indicate where you stand in terms of buying that SUV.
Alerts and Tips
Though Alerts occupy an essential position in most personal finance dashboard layouts (e.g., Mint, where it comes at the top), in Money Dashboard, it occupies the position of least importance (bottom right). Due to its position and background color (grey), it somehow gets lost in the whole scheme.
Help tips are there throughout the app and are very useful for new users getting used to the app and old users trying to explore some new features.
Overall, the Money Dashboard does an excellent job in helping users manage their personal finance by giving them a quick snapshot view of their income, expense, budget, etc., and providing them a platform for further analysis. The use of interactive charts makes the app furthermore engaging.
However, they do need to improve on certain fronts. Their export feature is limited and currently allows the export of transaction details only. Their recently introduced weekly Financial Summary Email, which provides users with a snapshot of their finances over the previous seven days, somehow tries to make up for it.
They need to make their design more responsive for their on-the-move users (It seems they are already working on it.) We recommend:
- Some minor design changes in the Header (like a more robust visual cue for a selected tab and linking it to its respective content area)
- Also, adjustments to the overall information flow (like Alerts, should be placed at a more critical position) are needed. You can easily count this app amongst the best money management apps.
Acknowledgment: Thanks to the Money Dashboard team for providing us with a demo account for this review.
Next in the series: Toshl.com, an amazing finance dashboard with multi-platform compatibility.
Keep watching this space!