Crafting a lovable brand and bill splitting experience with Billie

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Billie is an iOS app for splitting restaurant bills with friends. It was created by Andrew Barinov, Chris Lam and I as a side project to expand our skills.

I joined the project because I wanted to challenge myself with something new. As an industrial designer by training and web UX designer by day, Billie was how I kept my visual design and illustration skills sharp.


Context

At the time, there was no way to easily settle restaurant bills with friends

In the spring of 2014, the group was using the popular digital wallet app, Venmo. Back then, it didn’t have a way to easily charge multiple people in one go, which became especially noticeable in the restaurant context where one friend would pay for the whole meal on their card, then get paid back later.

Over several months, we met up over weekends in coffee shops and each other’s apartments to design, build, and test the app.


Process

Iterating and recombining concepts until things clicked

I took over the branding and visual design aspect of the project and began with our mascot and brand centerpiece, the Billie Goat.

Alongside the work on the goat, I was also exploring different visual look-and-feels for the app.

The design for the website went through several iterations as I explored how to best explain what Billie does in as few steps as possible.

As Billie's personality evolved into being more playful and bold, I also explored custom UI elements that reflected the puffed-out shape of the goat.


Reflection

Having a clear vision helps with streamlining the design process

In the end, I was able to create a design and brand that embodied the attributes I was seeking: clean, friendly, and cute. However, the design process would have been much smoother this vision was firmly locked at the beginning of the exploration phase.

Every time somebody sees the Billie sticker and says "that's so cute!", I smile.

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Frances Tung