PNC Aspire

Aspire is a digital learning tool that aids users, specifically PNC mass-affluent customers, with bridging the gap between short-term spending habits and long-term financial management. Because Aspire is primarily a learning experience, our group focused on maintaining the motivation and sustaining engagement of customers using our tool. 

This concept is currently being explored at PNC, which is very exciting for our team as we helped to inspire this development.

Client project + Interdisciplinary collaboration + Learning theory research + Stakeholder mapping + User experience mapping + Wireframing + Platform conceptualization + Illustrator + Keynote + AfterEffects


Getting Started with Aspire

Finding value and motivation in online, financial management is one of the biggest reasons why people have trouble envisioning their future, and strategically saving for it. Aspire shows customers how long-term goals, such as saving for a child's college education, can be a less daunting task than it needs to be. We achieve this through drawing parallels between their daily spending habits and their long-term savings plan
for college. 


Using the Aspire Goal Planning Tool

manageable goals, connecting other individuals involved in the process such as their children or spouse, and rewarding their incremental achievements. 

Thinking about a goal that ends 10 or 20 years down the line, especially one you have to plan financially for, is incredibly challenging for many people. However, Aspire takes the approach of breaking smaller tasks down incrementally, so that saving for something like college or retirement seems achievable no matter what stage of the process you are in. Through our designed, digital experience, we motivate customers by helping them set

Saving for College: Our Paradigm Case

Saving for college is one of the most common long-term financial goals that people have. It's also one that incorporates many different people within and outside a family. However, the current financial planning landscape does not afford these interactions and joint decisions to exist within their platforms. Aspire focuses on collaboration in long-term goals as a primary source of engagement and motivation for users. 

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Assessing the Stakeholder + Service Landscape

One of the first exercises we did while brainstorming our concept was mapping out the stakeholders and services involved in financial planning. This helped us to visualize the relationships of different people, their interactions, and how we could leverage their skills and motivations. We also mapped the various services offered by PNC as they relate to short-term and long-term spending.

Service blueprint mapping

Service blueprint mapping

Our Design Approach

With user learning and growth as our primary goal for the Aspire tool, we chunked the user experience incrementally so that as customers progress through a long-term goal, they gain skills, knowledge, and confidence. We incorporated several learning theories and scaffolding techniques into our journey map. 

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Applying Learning Theories

As learner experience design was the main guiding principle of our concept, we synthesized various learning theories developed by designers, anthropologists, and psychologists such as Julie Dirksen, Susan Ambrose, and Bernice McCarthy. This synthesis acted as our model of development throughout the various stages of our project, including research, ideation, prototyping, and rendering of our final product.

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Mapping User Experiences + Scenarios

For several weeks, we focused on the customer's journey through the Aspire tool. With our main focuses of engagement, motivation, and overall enjoyment, we mapped out all the possible interactions that a customer might encounter within the Aspire tool, constantly reaffirming that interest and value would not be lost. While in the initial brainstorming phase of what our tool could be and how to onboard customers we came up with 3 scenarios, depicted below.

Initial digital wireframes for mid-semester reviews

Initial digital wireframes for mid-semester reviews

Initial wireframing/sketching

Initial wireframing/sketching

Coming up with scenarios or possible onboarding activities based on motivation, skill building, and learning theories explored in earlier research.

Coming up with scenarios or possible onboarding activities based on motivation, skill building, and learning theories explored in earlier research.

Developing a Visual Language

Visual and written language, particularly in a banking setting where trust is essential, were incredibly crucial components to our project. We spent several days developing color palettes, testing dialogue and written feedback that Aspire would provide to its users, and setting a trustworthy yet approachable typeface for our platform.

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Kate Martin (left); Gillan Johnson (center); Amanda Johnson (right) after presentation at PNC headquarters in Pittsburgh.

Kate Martin (left); Gillan Johnson (center); Amanda Johnson (right) after presentation at PNC headquarters in Pittsburgh.