Tip calculator design challenge

iOS app design

Platip is an app that helps people quickly calculate a tip amount in a personalized way. By letting users set their own range of tip amount, they can quickly set their tip options.

Customers often find it tedious to split paychecks. Even when you want to split the price evenly, some restaurants only take up a certain number of cards. In these cases, they resort to having one paying the total price, and try to split the cost later. Many find this process annoying because some forget to pay back, and it's hard to keep track of everything.

Using photo scanning feature, Platip lets users not only calculate tips, but it also splits the prices evenly or lets them split different prices to specific people. With these split prices, users can send or request payments through Venmo, or send each group member a reminder text message.

The target audience is the customers who wish to quickly calculate tip amounts after dining with a group.

Project timeline:
3 hours of research (interviews and competitive analysis)
2 hours of task flow creation
5 hours of wireframing
7 hours of hi-fidelity mock up creation

How do people individually calculate tips and pay?

I began the process by interviewing four participants to get an idea of how people pay at a restaurant. I asked about their normal payment process and tip range.

The findings showed that people tend to have different ranges, and depending on the satisfaction level, people give a little bit more or less. One participant mentioned that the tip amount changes based on the type or price range of the restaurant. Most of the participants mentioned that they either round up or down to a whole number based on the service they had.

How do people pay as a group?

I began by analyzing the general process of group payments at a restaurant. The interviews showed that people usually find it difficult to split specific products, so they either split it equally altogether or one person from the group pays for everything and retrieves the money later through Venmo or cash.

The participants mentioned that this process is tedious because they have to keep track of the money retrieving process. Usually people Venmo back on the spot, but when they have to individually calculate the price, they have to take a moment to do the math and request money later. With this in mind, whoever pays for the group has to keep track of the receipt so that they can request the correct amount of money.

To access the interview PDF, click here!

Analyzing current tip calculator apps and bill splitting apps

Looking the current tip calculators, such as Tip Me and Simple Tip Calculator, I noticed that they both have the feature of modifying the tip percentage and quickly adjust the number of even splits. This way, the users can adjust the options and get the results they want at a glance.

I also studied a bill splitting app called Plates. Plates allows users to drag an item to different plates, and assign the price to specific people so that users can split the price with anyone. While Plates allows the users to visualize the table and see how much each person is paying, users have to manually input the prices and mentally assign people the dish color. This can get confusing and tedious as the number of people that are splitting gets higher.

Quick, personalized experience of tip calculation

The interviews showed that people all have different tip ranges. If users have a set personal tip range, they can quickly calculate the tip without having to adjust the range. Another interesting feature I considered was letting users round up/down the total price, as many participants have mentioned about it.

After conducting the competitive analysis, I ideated on how I can display the information so that the users can see how each aspect can affect the price at a glance. By letting the user split the checks as they are calculating the tip, the users can see how the tip is affected as well.

Simple, specific group pay distribution

For specific destribution, I ideated on how the user can quickly import the receipt information into the app. Some of the interview participants have mentioned that they take photos of the receipt so that they can go back to it later. With this idea, I brainstormed on scanning receipt information so that users don't have to manually type in everything.

I started analyzing my personal experience of calculating and distributing the different prices and organizing the information from the receipt. As seen in the picture, I usually write names next to each item and add the prices on a different sheet of paper. From this idea, I ideated on a quick tagging system.

From distribution to transaction in a group

Participants mentioned that they use Venmo as a method to transfer money in a group transaction. With the distributed prices, they pay or request the calculated amount of money through Venmo by looking for friends.

To keep track of the money transfers, I began thinking about how the app can visually display the incompleted transactions, and how it could also serve as a method of reminding group members to pay back in a quick manner.

After ideation phase, I started to form a persona based on the audience profile for each feature of the app. With these personas, I created a user workflow starting from the tip calculator which is used in the setting of individual payments and even split payments. Then, I started looking into the specific group payment distribution.

Userflow of the tip calculator

During the interviews, users mentioned that when they calculate the tips, they usually use the calculator in their phones. To mimic this process, the app starts with the tip calculator so that the users don't need to go the extra step of clicking a button.

During the initial phase, I was thinking of separating the tip calculator by two occasions: individual and group. However, after looking at other apps, I realized that it's more intuitive to let users quickly split evenly when they want to as they calculate the tip amounts.

This way, the user can see all of the information at a glance without having to go the extra screen of splitting the total price. This also shows how the tip is divided, so the user gets a better idea of the context.

Once the price is split evenly, the user can pay or request money through Venmo, or send a text message reminding the recipient to either pay back or collect money.

Userflow of splitting the check specifically

To split the check, user begins by choosing to scan the receipt. Once the receipt is scanned, the app brings an organized list of the items. Users can edit the list, add more items, add tip, and continue to find friends they can tag. After finding a list of friends, users can highlight items each group member is responsible for. Then, users can send each group member a Venmo transaction or a text message to complete the process.

I considered allowing each group member to add tip separately; however, most participants mentioned that when you are paying as a group with one paycheck, they pay the same amount of tip.

Wireframes and workflow for the entire app
Tip calculator

When users launch Platip, they can begin by simply entering the price, setting the number of people, and checking the tip %.

For new users, the tip percentage will be defaulted to 15%, but as users use it more, the app will gain the knowledge of the most frequently used tip percentage.

The app also records the date, time, and location so that the users know where they spent the money.

Sending even split requests

Once the tip is divided, users can search friends from their Facebook friends or contacts to send them a transaction request. They can ask for money or pay them.

For users or friends who do not have Venmo, users can send a text message reminding them the amount. This notification will also send the date, time, and location of the purchase to friends.

Scanning receipts

From the tip calculator screen, users can quickly scan the receipts of the purchase so that they can import the information from the physical receipt into the mobile app quickly.

Users can edit the scanned information, add more items by manually entering the items or scanning more receipts, add tips, and round the total number to a whole number.

Searching and tagging friends

Once the receipt is finalized, users can choose themselves or their friends to specifically distribute the different order prices. Users can assign the orders by choosing one or more to highlight them.

This way, users have a visualization of both each group member's monetary responsibility and how the prices are distributed among the group at a glance.

Here, users can also quickly add more people if they have forgotten some.

List of pending transactions

Users can access pending transactions from when they exit out of the tip calculator. This is organized in chronological order and also divided based on location.

Once Venmo charge is completed, Platip automatically edits the list. For non-Venmo friends, users can edit the list manually.

As this serves as a home screen, users can access specific group calculation feature, tip calculation feature, and settings from this page.

In-App money transferring experience

For further steps, I would like to focus on making the money transferring process within a group an intuitive in-app experience. This would transform the app into not just a calculator app, but it can be an essential app that lets users keep track of the money they spend in a group setting. This can range from not just restaurants but also grocery, internet bills, apartment bills, etc.