Venmo for Donations


What is Venmo

Venmo is a free peer-to-peer social payment system that allows you to make and split payments with friends.

Two former college roommates who wanted a better way to pay each other back launched Venmo in 2009. The first prototype worked over SMS and was incredibly simple. It eventually has evolved into a social payments app allowing people to split bills, pay each other back for rent, and make purchases - all the while making these interactions more fun and less awkward. 



Our goal was to design an experience for users to send money via the Venmo app to causes they care about. Venmo wants to leverage social aspect in order to encourage donations. Creating a fast, easy, seamless and secure experience was the high-level goal we had in our mind throughout the design process.


My Role

I was responsible for user research and usability testing and was also involved in market research, rapid prototyping, design iterations and creating visual deliverables. I collaborated with three other UX Designers throughout the project.

The project was presented after two weeks and has received positive feedback.



Meeting with the stakeholders helped us to understand the challenges. With our team, we identified our roles and expectations from the project and crafted the design strategy.

We started the discovery phase immediately. We reviewed the competitors' landscape, conducted market and user research.


Who is our user?

We have conducted in-depth interviews with 6 Venmo users and later have designed a survey to validate our interview findings. This allowed us to understand user needs, pain points, behaviors and attitudes in regards to using Venmo and overall donating to the causes they care about.

These are the key user research highlights:


Majority of users are between ages of 18 and 34


Users are cautious about the security of Venmo


Users prefer to keep their donations private


Users want to see what causes their Venmo friends are donating to


Users want to see the impact of their donations


Users would be more inclined to donate if Venmo matched their donation



Meet our persona, Shawna

Our persona, Shawna, was born based on the research outcomes. We focused on designing to address Shawna’s pain points and goals in the early stages of the project. It helped us to prioritize her main goals and meet the two weeks deadline. We referred to our persona constantly throughout the design process to create empathy in our team and to prioritize and address her goals, needs, and pain points.


Understanding Shawna's Story

Through knowing our persona and revisiting the interview and survey study findings, we created scenarios to deeper empathize and eventually visualize how she feels, thinks and behaves.

Having the stories in our mind helped us to communicate and explore various concepts meanwhile staying focused on the experiences that matter to our persona.

We used journey mapping and empathy mapping (see above) techniques to visualize the pain points of the user and feel their range of emotions across the touch-points throughout the overall experience.


Shawna's journey



Before starting iterating the solution we broke apart the Venmo app’s structure and possible user flows.

The research outcomes, the usage context and the user flow of Venmo navigated us throughout the design process and were revisited constantly to ensure the validity of our design decisions. We made sure to keep the aesthetics and user flow pattern consistent. Hence we followed Venmo’s design pattern and style guide to create the familiar experience for Venmo users.


Work progress

We started sketching out the early concepts focusing on our primary persona and her journey. Throughout the design process we continued iterating based on the research outcomes. Moving on with the process we created the mid-fi and hi-fi digital wireframes. 


Venmo donation feature map

As we progressed throughout the design process we mapped out the proposed donation feature to visualize the whole feature structure and possible flows.   


User flows

We diagramed three versions of the user flow to further improve and validate our concept.   



We conducted 3 rounds of usability testing with 3 users in the 1st two rounds and 5 users in the last round. We iterated the designs twice. Below are two examples of iterations.

Venmo_Iterations (3).jpg

We iterated the search function

Based on the usability test results we incorporated the “Search Charities” function with the “Search Friends” function meanwhile grouping the search results accordingly.

Venmo_Iterations (4).jpg

We iterated the quick donation buttons

The quick donation buttons were also iterated in regards to interaction and content. When the quick donation button is tapped, the color changes, it expands in size, and the message changes.    



Introducing Venmo Donation Feature

We designed donation feature for Venmo that enables users to easily give money to causes they care about. This feature was designed based on market and user research. In all, it solves both business and user problems through providing a secure and fast way to donate to Venmo trusted charities meanwhile leveraging social aspect of the application. 


Donate through the social feed

Donate through the charities homepage

Donate through the search function