Given the recent demise of Level Money, I was forced to search for a new personal spending tracking app. After some very brief Googling, I discovered Penny. Penny brands itself as not just a budgeting app, but a “personal finance coach.” This brand is embodied through a fascinating interactive UI that mimics an SMS conversation between you and “Penny” — the personable finance coach in your phone. Accordingly, the app foregoes a traditional menu and nests the main interactions within a hierarchy of commands modeled as a texting conversation.
Navigating Under Constraints
Text-based customer service bots are not novel, and in most cases are fairly painful to use: they are slow, not terribly interactive, and are generally just the triaging gatekeepers between you and the human you’d prefer to be talking to.
Penny, however, is built from the ground-up around this texting-like interface, and by imposing some simple constraints on user actions, manages to deliver an effective core solution with a pleasing and differentiated user experience. It’s an intriguing form of skeuomorphism, but it works.
By foregoing a typical menu and