The Power of Short SMS
January 23, 2015
Constraints have the ability to “make us more than we were, rather than less than we could be.” A Beautiful Constraint , the new book by Mark Barden and Adam Morgan, calls our attention to this truth. Larry Page, one of Google’s founders, created the search engine’s home page with such simplicity because that was the extent of his coding abilities. However, that was what set Google apart from its cluttered competitors. They harnessed the power of their constraints and benefitted from it.
At Juntos, we took the limitations of a text message—160 characters—and turned it into an opportunity: a powerful personal financial tool. But based on further user research, we learned that even a 160 character message was too long. We watched a video of one of our users reading aloud these first messages and learned that it took them over 20 seconds to read aloud a single message. This feedback helped recenter us around the needs of our users. We then had the challenge of shortening our messages even further. However, shorter proved to be more effective (The Challenge of Simplicity). Accessible on any mobile phone via SMS, our products help families increase their savings and feel financial confidence and control. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to reap the benefits that formal financial services offer, not just the wealthy. 89 percent of the developing world has an active SIM card, which makes SMS a reliable and effective delivery platform to mobile phone users all over the world. By working through a delivery channel that is accessible on any phone in the world — SMS, and recentering our design around what users need — shorter messages, we have developed a product with incredible results empowering users to change their financial habits. Constraints that at first appear limiting to product development have forced us to solutions that instead make us “more than we were.”