I am Tom Rohlf

I Design Systems

I design systems

I understand trade-offs

I studied human factors engineering

I create addiction

I ask questions

I test hypotheses

I live in San Francisco



by Mint.com

Product Designer, 2014

Keep helps you save for your goals by motivating good spending behavior.
Summary: “Find a big customer problem and solve it” we were told on our first day— The rest was up to our 5 person team.  In 5 months we made it through the product creation process from idea generation to building a native iOS app coming soon to the App Store.

For more details view on the web

Background: Find 10 million new Mint customers given absolute freedom to build what we believe in.

Insights: High debt and a poor job market create unique financial problems for millennials. As a team of millennials ourselves, we were weary of following our personal insights so we interviewed ~50 millennials about their personal finances.  Our biggest takeaway was that people find it easy to identify moments when they are spending money on things they shouldn’t; but often they do it anyway.

“It’s not about managing your money.  It’s about managing your wants.”

-Allison, Student

Problem: People spend money that they know they shouldn’t because the benefits of good financial behavior are remote while bad behavior gets immediate rewards.

This is not a new problem.  It’s one that has been studied very extensively in hope of solving related problems: most notably weight loss, smoking, and general goal setting. People struggle with these tasks because of hyperbolic discounting.  In short, we discount the value of things received in the future in relation to what we could have now.

Grand Challenge: Can we create an experience that makes up for the perceived devaluation of future goods?

Process: Most applications that create dramatic changes in behavior use habit forming tactics to help their users stick with their new lifestyle. Instead of brainstorming individual solutions we thought of all the ways we could complete each section of the addiction cycle (Trigger, Action, Variable Reward, and Commitment). Combinations of these ideas with at least one from each section turned into our first prototypes.

A few of our first clickable prototypes

Design: In the current state of the world when someone sees something they desire the alternative to spending money doesn’t feel very good.  The benefits of making a good decision are remote and marketers have made it extremely easy to spend money on things you don’t actually want.  For this reason it is crucial that our experience allows users to save money in the moment faster than they can spend; all while giving them a reward that overcomes the challenges of hyperbolic discounting.  These considerations weighed on each and everyone of our design decisions.


The Keep WebApp

Check it out!

To be continued...

hint: a native app is in the works

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Design Consultant, 2014

SparkFund is a crowd-funding investment platform for energy efficiency projects.
Summary: While working with SparkFund I have helped with everything from strategy pitch decks to product style guides and everything in-between.  This case study is about a project that is core to SparkFunds viability as a business.

For more details view on the web

Problem: SparkFund has plenty of interest from potential investors on its platform but is struggling to attract qualified project leads.

“I have to turn away many customers due to financing”

-Joe Pace, Contractor

Solution: Partner with contractors and provide a seamless financing solution that they can “sell” to their customers on our behalf. 

The original website was focused almost entirely on crowd investors.  SparkFund’s website needs to appeal to both the contractor audience and crowd investors (in that order).  Additionally, SparkFund has been receiving interest from large-scale investors creating a third customer segment.

Our next focus was on enabling contractors to be as successful as possible selling SparkFund Financing. Customer research with contractors and project recipients revealed that there was a finance knowledge gap and an educational tool was needed.


The SparkFund Lease Pricing Calculator makes building custom finance terms easy and understandable.  Use the slider to customize your lease terms and see the graph change real time.


The tool is designed to be used in the field on an iPad by a contractor and project recipient while talking about financing options.

In follow-up conversations with the team at Spark the new website is performing well beyond what they had hoped for.  They are now able to follow up with contractors and investors in a personalized way and have found a great deal of success in doing so.  The iPad financing tool has proven to be an “order winner” for contractors and SparkFund alike.  Project recipients rave at its simplicity and ability to make the lending process more human.

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QuickBooks Payments

Interaction Designer, 2013

QuickBooks helps small businesses with accounting.  Payment processing is an optional add-on to QuickBooks.
Summary: The payments sign-up form for existing QuickBooks customers wasn’t being discovered by our customers. I redesigned the experience making payments discovery and signup easier within Quickbooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online and Intuit Pay (UK).

For more details view on the web

Objective: Increase the number of existing QuickBooks customers using payments.

Problem: Many customers use third party payment providers when there is a solution native within QuickBooks.

Process: QuickBooks has a lot of users.  Lots of users means a lot of product usage data. Of those who use a 3rd party payment provider, many customers have never visited the sign-up form for payments within QuickBooks and some have never visited the page with the entry point to the form. Additionally, it was not uncommon for people to get to the social security number portion of the form and bounce.


The original QuickBooks payments sign-up form.  To access this feature customers needed to self discover it from the settings menu.


Users are required to enter their full SSN and bank account information in succession.

These insights led us to believe there were two problems with the current process for signing up for payments.
     1. People who may be interested in QuickBooks Payments don’t know it’s an option 
     2. Customers are uncomfortable giving us sensitive information

Solution: Make the sign up process for payments visible when customers are taking a payment and make sure they are as comfortable as possible giving us their sensitive information.

We created the experience so that users can defer signing up by setting a reminder for themselves if they want to complete the task they were working on.  If they choose to sign up on the spot, their progress is saved and they will be returned to where they were upon completing a 3 step process.


A progress bar greets a user on the first page letting them know how far along in the process they are.


In QuickBooks this page animates up from the bottom of the page.  The “x” in the top right brings you back to what you were previously doing.


Bank information and SSN are located on separate parts of the payments sign-up flow.  In user testing we received feedback that this was more reassuring.


We figured out a way to ask for only 4 digits of the social security number and match it behind the scenes.  We found that people are generally more comfortable with that.

Results: A couple months after rolling out the new experience to our customers we noticed a statistically significant increase in the likelihood of our customers signing up for payments.

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Keep first time use

Product designer, 2014

Communicate Keep’s key value proposition in under 30 seconds
Summary: Keep is unique from most financial apps. It aims to change spending behavior by motivating you to track moments where you decide to spend less. Through trial and error we figured out a way to communicate this to our users in an engaging way.

For more details view on the web

Background: Keep helps customers save money for their goals by rewarding them for being deliberate about their spending.  This is a different mental model from how most people currently think about spending and saving.

Problem: Create an experience that communicates to our customers why they should use Keep while simultaneously teaching them the main interaction of the app (tap and hold to save).

Process: We followed a stringent process for determining whether our prototypes were communicating the correct information to our customers.

1. Develop mock-ups of the concept at a fidelity that simulates the real experience
2. Test the concept with at least 10 users who have a fairly high likelihood of being “Taylor” and haven’t been exposed to our app before
3. Have them go through the first time use on their own and ask them one question when they finish: “When would you use Keep?”
4. If they say “when I decide not to buy something” or “when I decide to spend less” they pass.  All other responses were considered failures
5. We strived to get 9 out of 10 people to pass our one question test

A few of the first time use (FTU) flows we tested with users

None of these options got us to our goal.  If our customers can’t understand when they should use our app there is no reason to believe they will ever use it let alone become active users.  We went back to the drawing board and came up with a different strategy for communicating our value proposition to our users.

Solution: Focus on “when” instead of “why.” With more concrete examples people were able to clearly understand when and could figure out why on their own.

In addition to being able to communicate our main value proposition, this first time use helps our users understand the main interaction of our app.  They go through the process of pressing and holding to save twice within the first 30 seconds of opening the app.

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