In November of 2006, we launched the Wesabe site after about two years of talking about it, figuring out what it was going to become, and then building it, one piece at a time. Wesabe was the first of what are now known as “Social Personal Finance” sites, and we didn’t have anything to guide us except the history of Quicken — from which we were explicitly trying to get away. Wesabe was new and the idea was new, and that meant we had to make it up as we went along.
We spent a lot of the year leading up to Wesabe’s launch sitting in our cramped, informal office (in the back of a clothing store owned by my co-founder, Jason, and his wife) sketching, arguing, trying things out, and getting the pieces to fit together. With the graphic and UI design of the site, much of that process took place between me and Jeff, the site’s original designer, sitting in front of the gigantic monitor in his office. We essentially “pair programmed” the design, which helped me enormously as the product engineer, even if it sometimes frustrated Jeff’s better aesthetic instincts.
Now that the Wesabe site has been live for almost two and a half years, we’ve taken a chance to go back to our initial design and redo it, incorporating what we’ve learned since launch, and letting Magera, our designer, have the lead. It has been a chance for us to clean up some of our mistakes, make the site easier to use all around, and introduce a new standard of design for our site. Where with the first design I was extremely controlling about every little piece, this time I told Magera, “Make something you would like” — and it turns out we all like what she likes. 🙂
Wesabe’s whole site has been completely redesigned — every page is different. Rather than having a developer-led UI, this is designer-led development, and we’re all extremely happy with the result. We hope you will be, too — and please do let us know what you think.
(Note: As part of this launch, we’ve disabled or minimized some of our site’s features to get the simplest version out the door that we could. Some of the site’s graphs, export and search features, and side features like Wesabe Mail and Wesabe Cutback will be offline for a short while. They will be coming back very soon. Our Tips and Goals tabs are on the blocks for more major revisions — those will both return but in different forms. At the same time, Paul has completely revised the new User Manual, so we now have substantial and valuable online help for almost all of the site’s features. We’ve also added in some long-time requests from our community, such as spending target histories so you can go over your budget for months past, and a tag cloud that takes into account how much you spend on each tag.)