A Zero-Fee Cashback Debit Card for Everyone


May 2020 - Sep 2020


Product Design Intern in a team of three (1 design lead and 2 design interns)


Figma, Jira, Zeplin, Webflow, Asana, Mail Chimp, Sendgrid

About Cheese

Cheese is a challenger bank that issues zero-fee debit cards with cash back benefits like a credit card.

Who we are designing for

The Cheese Debit Card is mainly targeted towards new immigrants, international students and young professionals in the US with a Social Security Number.

To See Cheese's Persona

Working as a product designer at Cheese...

I worked as a product design intern at Cheese during Summer 2020 with a product design lead and one other design intern. The design work during this period of time was mainly focused on the product soft launch by the end of 2020.
Periodical company north star: 3,000 active cards in the US by 2020
*To protect Cheese’s confidential information, I have chosen to only display some outcome of a few selected projects that I participated in during this internship.
The earlier stage of my responsibility

In-depth semi-structured user interviews regarding consuming and banking behaviors, user pain points verifications

Competitive analysis

Cheese user journey map

Design notification strategy and contents

The later stage of my responsibility

Usability testing and design iteration of “cashback” display and “cheese streak” feature

Assisted design lead finalizing UX UI design and quality assurance with dev team throughout 7 design sprints

Polish bilingual UX writing

“Fortune Cheese” feature ideation and design

Product feature design and finalization in coordination with business development team

Redesign product launching website

User Journey Map

Starting from the first touch point, I mapped the journey of a user with Cheese. From signing up, to making the first deposit, to making the first purchase, to referring a friend. 

The goal is not only to map the user experience from timeline, key actions, touch points, user emotion, expectations, but also to identify the challenges (bad experiences, blockers, delay, etc) and create a cohesive strategy that keeps the users engaged. The opportunities include three aspects: rewards, notifications, and product features.

Competitive Analysis

Together with another product design intern, we analyzed 29 direct and indirect competitors including challenger banks, traditional banks, financial management services and cash back platforms. While none of the competitors provide bilingual service that targets new immigrants in the US market like Cheese does, we analyzed the features of the competitors that provide inspiration to the design of Cheese, such as cashback programs, financial perks, UX writing, onboarding experiences, and marketing strategies.

User-Centric Notification System Design

A good notification strategy should be helpful, relevant, personal and time-sensitive. 

As part of Cheese’s product design, I designed the notification strategy centered around the main feature of Cheese - cash back. The strategy aims to retain the user engagement at the minimal disruption.

Grouping is important: users have limited attention, and they are often overwhelmed by push notifications from many other services. I chose to bundle several messages into one notification. For example, grouping the transaction receipt and the cash back streak progress update so that users are notified when they check the transaction receipt as an already established routined behavior.

Not everything is equally important. I broke down the messages into the four main channels to send messages for retained user engagement - push notification, inbox notification, email, and text. While some have more urgent nature that are suitable for important messages, (for example, account security), others are good for less time-sensitive contents such as new updates and blog articles.

Each notification is designed to be triggered by an event or user-action, such as new cash back deals, account statement, referral success, or card usage.

Time For a Design Sprint

A strongly incented cash back reward program is the essential business perks of Cheese that will attract, retain and benefit our target users. Using the Cheese Debit Card to spend money at a selected range of business partners, the users can obtain high percentage cash back deposited in their account.

Design Spring Kickoff

The design sprint kicked off with an all-hands meeting involving members from different teams of the company. Coworkers from business growth, tech development, operation as well as design all participated in the meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to reach an agreement regarding the north star and the objectives of the cash back program design sprint.

Design Iteration 1

I collected and summarized a few ideas that were brought up and voted on for multiple times by different teams during the all-hands meeting.

Surprise deal /randomness
Streak + collect of badges (for special events): a series of core actions leading to rewards
unlock new features; horizontal upgrade (not upgrade to a higher level but access to more deals)
focus on a few selected brands benefits at the beginning + double cheese
one-time limited deals (to create the sense of urgency)
customize benefits package -- “make your own cheese”
create cheese-special brand collections -- summer outfit, boba tea, hotpot...
Cashback Deals v1
Cashback Streak v1

Design Iteration 2

After communicating within the team, we agreed upon a few changes that are reflected below.

Cashback Deals v2
Cashback Streak v2

Usability Testing - Design Iteration 3

We conducted 5 usability testings within our target user group to test the users’ reaction to the perks and rewards, as well as the information display. I summarized a few key findings from the usability testings, which leads to the third iteration of design.

The current brands that are displayed are not the most recognized and desired brands of our target users
Users tend to be reluctant to tap into the card when the outcome is not clear.
Without clear incentive/goals, users would not be motivated to finish the streak
Users don’t understand some specific terms that we designed: double cheese, bonus boost, etc.
Users paid more attention to visual than words. When the visuals are appealing, they ignore the text information.
Users prefer cash rewards over cash back percentage reward
The cashback program can not directly stimulate consuming behavior, it can only works as a chance for users to see if there is anything they happen to need.
Some users are more attracted to specific items than brands
User would not want to manually enroll in the streak program, especially when they do not know the reward.
Validated: The streak is effective as a reminder of Cheese -- thus helpful at forming the habit of using Cheese Debit Card as their primary card
Cashback Deals v3
Cashback Streak v3
Cashback Flow Map
Cashback Flow Map

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