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Behind the design: The app that wants to make freelancers more successful

This case study was sponsored by our friends at Lili—the #1 banking app designed for freelancers.

Meet Aya Zacksenberg, Head of Product at Lili. Aya has been an Experience Designer for almost a decade, with most of her experience in finance and retail. In 2018, she started working on developing the UI/UX of the Lili app—a banking service tailored for freelancers.

“My husband is a freelancer, so let’s just say I’m quite familiar with the specificity and difficulties that come with that lifestyle, especially on the money management and taxes front,” she says.


Driven by design…

Lili is a bank account designed for freelancers and the word ‘designed’ is burnt in the brand’s DNA for a reason. (And it’s not only because 75% of designers in the US are freelancers

“We’ve always said we are driven by design, because we firmly believe that design can play a role in helping anyone take control of their finances,” says Aya. “I’m usually scared of checking my balance, and I think many people feel the same. So by making it a more fun and light experience, we can maybe remove some of that dread.”

And the results are clear. Just two years after launch, more than 150,000 freelancers across the US have opened an account with Lili, and Aya’s calculations are paying off: on average, Lili customers login to the app almost 3 times a day. And as we all know, knowing how much money is left in the account is usually the first step toward smarter financial decisions.

I’m usually scared of checking my balance, and I think many people feel the same. By making it a fun and light experience, we can maybe remove some of that dread.”

By using bright color and high contrast—Lili’s primary color palette is a strong yellow and flashy blue against a deep grey background—the account interface immediately differentiates itself from traditional banks, and sets the stage for what Lili really is: a new way of banking.

“Lili isn’t trying to blend into an existing sector: we’re here to challenge the status quo and create a whole new relationship between a customer and their bank. And the way we visually present ourselves to our customers is central to that effort,” said Lilac Bar David, CEO and Co-Founder of Lili.

…but design isn’t the driver

From the beginning, Aya has insisted Lili’s design needs to be “transparent”—when it comes to the app experience, the actions must come first. So every aesthetic and product decision has been driven by the following 3 questions. When a user opens the app…

  • What are they here for?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What do they need to do?

“The design of the screens needs to be clean, no design element should ever encumber the actionable experience. Fonts need to be big and legible. Icons are only there to serve an actionable item,” Aya says.

“We’re constantly editing our design, asking ourselves ‘What really needs to stay on screen, what is a must-have and what is a nice to have. The best thing we can do for our customers is help them find their way through the intricate and sometimes confusing, financial journey every freelancer needs to navigate: keeping track of their expenses, saving enough for self-employment taxes, and maintaining a rainy day fund to power through slower months.”


An app designed for designers

Lili offers free built-in tools to address all these pain points. To categorize an expense as business or personal, all you have to do is swipe left or right on a transaction. Was that inspired by Tinder?

“We’re definitely not Tinder,” laughs Aya “But yes, we want to keep it fun and seamless—the whole mobile experience today is about swiping, up, down, left, right… Banking should be no different!” Every purchase swiped to the right (work) is then included in an auto-generated expense report users can download every quarter to optimize their tax deductions.

The whole mobile experience today is about swiping, up, down, left, right… Banking should be no different.

Lili also comes with two automatic savings “buckets”—one for taxes, one for emergencies. The Tax Bucket allows you to automatically set aside a percentage of all the money that comes in for taxes. The money remains available at all times, but it’s sitting in a sub-account, protected from 2 am impulse purchases, and can be transferred back to the main account in just one click when it’s time to pay your quarterly taxes. Using a similar method, the Emergency Bucket allows users to start a rainy day fund by automatically saving as little as $1 per day.

“Freelancers have enough to deal with—constantly being on the hunt for their next job, juggling different clients, personalities, and tasks. So when it comes to money management, we want to give them the tools to do what they need to do without having to think about it,” says CEO, Bar David.

If you’re a freelancer wanting to level up your finances, you can sign-up for Lili today.

LiliLili was chosen as the Best Bank Account for Freelancers by the Freelancer’s Union, voted Best Bank Account for Freelancers by Fundera in 2020 and is a partner member of Visa Small Business Solutions hub.

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