Our chief designer, Alexander Stevens, tells us about designing Auderli's app and website.
I am Alexander Stevens - the designer on the team, working on the overall user experience. My job is to understand the vision of the product and think about it in terms of the needs of people so that we can make Auderli usable, enjoyable and accessible; and hopefully something people can love to use. I have been designing user experiences since I graduated some twenty two years ago. I live in rural South West France with my family, three dogs and a small brood of chickens.
A couple of years ago, on a March evening, we had a late evening call from my sister. My brother was in hospital, he had had a stroke, and he was in intensive care. I remember the frantic feeling of booking flights, the blind panic and feeling hugely thankful that his daughter had called an ambulance. After an operation to remove the clot on his brain and 3 days in intensive care he came back to consciousness but had suffered complete memory loss.
Those days and weeks we went in to be with him were hard. He remembered us, but wasn’t able to answer some pretty basic questions. At the same time was also had to sort out his financial affairs. Doctors were hopeful we would make a full recovery but we were looking at months and not days. He was a single Dad, with lots of outgoings. And he was potentially not going to be able to meet his financial obligations.
Figuring out his finances was a stress for us - luckily I have two other siblings so we were able to share the burden - but it meant a lot of work ascertaining outgoings, contacting companies and organisations and learning about the joys of power of attorneys.
Thankfully he has now made a full recovery but the experience made me realise how difficult it can be to untangle someones finances and also got me thinking about my own situation. A product like Auderli has the promise of being a lifesaver in times of stress and uncertainty, whilst also helping you manage your entire finances in a smarter and more holistic way.
It’s still really early days for Auderli, and I’m really excited about all the potential applications and ideas for the future. Whilst we have been rolling out the first few features I have worked really hard on making the product feel complete, so it doesn’t feel like there is lots missing.
I’m also really happy that we have been able to create a really strong brand from the outset. It’s an open and inclusive brand and hopefully makes the subject of life finances feel more approachable and less daunting. The feedback has been good so far and I’m looking forward to seeing how more people respond to it.
Honestly – I think trust is a big challenge for us. People are rightly cautious about putting all their important records into one place, and they may instinctively have a tendency to keep everything obscure.
Although Auderli doesn’t hold passwords, or provide access to any accounts, we need to put security at the heart of everything we do. It’s not just a technical challenge, but also a communication challenge too.
I have learned in the past that whilst you can give people amazing features, if it is beyond their ‘mental model’ of how something should work – it may not work for them. Whilst design and technology can solve huge problems, we need to pay special attention to the human element.
When asking people how managing life’s important information could be made better some answer along the lines of: “I would like a magic filing cabinet.” They might wistfully imagine papers organising themselves in a magical fashion.
And it may sound far-fetched– but I believe this is the potential of this product. I envision a day where Auderli can do something very similar to what they imagine – albeit without floating papers and drawers that open themselves! No – not physical but digitally working in an ‘auto’-magical way to help keep people’s important information safe, up to date, shareable, provide advice, save them money and be there when they really need it.
I am definitely more of a ‘memories and experiences’ person over personal possessions, so I haven’t collected that many remarkable physical items. Yes I love our Eames replica chairs, up-cycled scaffold table and giant coffee table which had a former life in some industrial workshop. But honestly I think the most important thing in my Auderli will be the ability to protect my family. Protect them from having to clean up a big mess after I go. It sounds really morbid, but it happens to us all and I see it, it's my job to make their life easier when the inevitable happens. So I guess peace of mind...and of course my collection of amazing photos to remind me of all my happy memories.