Welcome to redesign | mobile

Welcome to redesign | mobile, a new kind of marketplace.

redesign | mobile was born of my frustration with the difficulty in finding professionals for hire, especially for quick questions and small one-off projects. Finding a lawyer, user interface expert, SEO, small business guru can be difficult. Even if you find one, it’s hard to judge the quality beforehand. The time and cost to negotiate an agreement is enough to prevent a lot of questions from being asked and a lot of answers from being given.

I’ve looked for attorneys in the past to review a document. The representation agreement was twice the length of the document I wanted them to review! Paying them was equally difficult, as they only accepted checks. If you have a 10-minute question, it’s not worth the overhead to go through this process.

redesign | mobile is changing that. We provide a way to connect with qualified professionals quickly. We check their academic credentials and professional certifications.

More importantly, you can read expert analysis by the professionals before you pay a penny.

If you decide to pay, you can easily use a credit card online.

Our initial focus areas are:

  • Consumer technology
  • Personal finance
  • Travel
  • User interface design
  • Apple products and design
  • Law
  • Retail experience design
  • Payments technology
  • Freelance writers

These reflect the expertise of our contributors.

Have a service that you’d like to provide? Email amy@redesignmobile.com. Do we already have providers in your space? Not to worry. We want to connect exceptionally smart people with those looking for help. We’re always happy to have more.

redesign | payments: Reinventing the banking experience in 2015


On a recent trip to New York City, I did some secret shopping of banks. I posed as a customer looking to open a new account with $250,000. I visited banks large and small, including Citibank, Bank of America, Chase, Valley National Bank and TD Bank.

Although banks have become more open and inviting to consumers — in many neighborhoods, it isn’t a prison environment with tellers behind bulletproof glass — I came up with a number of ways to update the banking experience. Some of these require changes to approaches to security, but I think they are necessary for banks to be relevant.

In bank

  • Ability for bank staff to access Dropbox, email, etc. There are obvious security implications of this, but this is the way millennials work. The primary repository for many documents are in cloud storage. If your bankers don’t have the ability to access Web services, you’re at a disadvantage. I love that my banker at First Republic can do most things over email and Dropbox.
  • Web access for certain employees. Although some bank networks are locked down for the lowest common denominator (bank tellers), some people need access to the broader Web. This includes investment advisers and personal bankers.
  • Simpler ATMs that allow most of the transaction to be done from the customer’s mobile device.
  • Allow customers to enter their data. Although many banks use PIN pads, there is other data that needs to be entered. iPads could allow people to comfortably enter data such as email addresses.
  • Bathrooms! In the past, bank transactions were predominantly about quick withdrawals and deposits. Now, more transactions require more time. This includes account opening and investment transactions. When you might be in the bank for 15-20 minutes, bathrooms become more important. In my secret shopping, most banks wouldn’t offer a bathroom. A few did, but it involved going into a backroom.
  • Chargers. Just like bathrooms, charging devices are becoming a Big Necessity. In some of my secret shopping, bankers allowed me to use their personal chargers or asked around the bank for one. It’s not expensive to outfit each station with micro USB and lightning charges.

Call center

  • Better IVR and ASR systems. One of the more frustrating banking experiences is calling a bank, entering the account number and then having to give it again to the rep. These systems need a streamlined user experience with user needs in mind. They shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. For example, if a bank notices that I do all my banking online, I should go straight to a representative. (The chances that I will call for something I can do online are zero.) People who never bank online would be given the full automated system. Segmentation could also be done by asset level, e.g. customers with more than $100,000 go straight to a rep.
  • Allow CSRs to follow transactions. For some transactions and events, there is a time delay between a request and a final outcome. Normally, this involves the customer calling back and dealing with someone brand new and re-explaining the situation. Citi lets an agent monitor an account for future follow up. I’m always impressed when the same person calls me back with a resolution.
  • Automatic emails for frequent transactions. For example, if a customer requests a late-fee credit, an email is automatically generated stating the amount of the late fee credit and an expected post date. Ideally, these emails will show up before the customer hangs up.


  • Data should be shared across platforms. If I start a credit card application online, I should be able to finish on the phone if I have a question.

One thing I noticed that really impressed me: Chase bankers rate other Chase employees. My banker had to call a support line. After he finished, he was presented with a survey to rate the support desk. This kind of feedback is invaluable in weeding out bad employees.

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redesign | payments: redesigning the ATM


The humble ATM. We’re surrounded by them. Since Chemical Bank opened the first ATM in 1969, consumers have had access to their money more conveniently than waiting in line for a bank teller.

ATMs have evolved over time, becoming smaller, smarter and ubiquitous.


  • The advent of ATM surcharges meant that every mom and pop grocery store, gas station and bar could afford to put one in.
  • ATMs can now accept checks and cash for deposit without using an envelope.
  • ATMs have been used to sell postage stamps and airline tickets.
  • The newer Chase ATMs now stand in between customers and tellers, offering a wider array of services.

But mobile technology allows ATMs to slim down considerably. Here’s how:

  1. Open your bank’s mobile app.
  2. Specify the amount of cash you want to withdraw.
  3. Touch your fingerprint.
  4. Tap your phone against an NFC reader.
  5. Cash pops out of a dispenser.
  6. Your receipt is shown on your phone.

This eliminates the screen, keyboard and printer.

Banks benefit in a number of ways: less space per machine, lower costs, more throughput per machine (due to shortened transaction times) and eliminating skimming at the ATM.

Consumers benefit from more convenient access and shorter line times.

What would 9/11 and its aftermath look like with the tools we have today?

Today is the 14th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11.

Shortly after the attacks, I was walking around an exhibit in SoHo called Here Is New York. People had been invited to submit their pictures. These were hung in a gallery. The atmosphere was somber. Union Square was plastered with posters asking if someone had been seen.

In those 14 years, a lot has changed. YouTube didn’t exist back then. (Founded in 2005.) flickr didn’t exist. (Launched 2004.) Facebook didn’t exist (2004). Mobile was in its infancy. (The iPhone didn’t come out until 2007.) Of course, more recent innovations like Snapchat, Instagram, Meerkat, Vine and Periscope didn’t exist. Then-dominant players like Yahoo! and Aol have largely fallen by the wayside. Flickr has become a has-been.

I thought it would be an interesting thought exercise to look at what the world would look like if 9/11 had instead occurred today.

  • Instead of posting flyers, people would use Facebook’s “I’m OK” feature to find news of their loved ones. The service, activated after disasters, prompts people to press a button saying that they’re OK.
  • We’d have live accounts from the disaster scene on Twitter. The whole world would be expressing their sympathies in 140 characters.
  • With smart phone cameras and cheap video cameras like Dropcam, investigators (working with the likes of Google) would be able to create 3D models of the events.
  • We’d see a flood of pictures on Instagram.
  • CNN and other news networks would offer live streams to everyone.
  • People would watch replays of the events on YouTube.

One thing that wouldn’t happen: live Periscopes and Meerkats. The apps wouldn’t work in the saturated environment. The excessive demand during 9/11 meant that cell networks and landlines in the area were overloaded. There’s no way that current data networks could handle all that traffic. Even pictures would have to be uploaded over broadband connections.

The biggest change — and the one with the most effect — is the advent of in-flight WiFi. Using the communication networks we have today, passengers would be better informed of the events. They could follow the news. With the additional information, they could thwart the hijackers like heroic passengers on Flight 93 did.

In flight WiFi would also allow passengers to leave messages for their loved ones.

In short, 9/11 would be completely different on 9/11/2015.

(This post was posted on a flight from San Francisco to Seattle.)

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redesign | payments: Square’s IPO will be an interesting one to watch

Rakesh Agrawal is a payments expert. He has been widely quoted about the industry in publications such as Bloomberg Businesweek, The New York Times and appeared on CNBC and Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg, Square has begun the process of an IPO with a confidential filing. (Allowed under the JOBS Act for companies with less than $1 billion in revenue for the previous completed fiscal year.)

Square has been widely considered a hot company. Part of this is due to the celebrity status of founder Jack Dorsey, who also co-founded Twitter. Its eponymous card reader is used by millions of small businesses, according to the company. (This should be discounted because there is no commitment; I’m technically a Square user, even though my Square sits in a drawer.)

There’s no doubt that Square has simplified and demystified the bewildering payments process for small businesses. Instead of dealing with byzantine rates, statement fees and minimums, Square charges a flat 2.75% of each transaction.

But that also creates a business problem for Square: most transactions at coffee shops and food trucks result in a loss to the company due to the relatively high fixed cost of credit and debit transactions.

Square claims $30 billion in processed transactions. If you’re generous and assume all of that volume is at the 2.75% rate, that translates in to $825 million in gross revenue. But the vast majority of that goes straight out the door to payments processors.

In the credit card industry, success is measured in “bps,” or basis points. 100 basis points equals 1 percent. Apple gets 15 bps per transaction for Apple Pay. Square should be getting significantly more. But, unlike Square, Apple likely isn’t on the hook for fraud losses.

The S-1 won’t be available to the public for some time, But when it comes out, here are the key things to look for:

  • Merchant mix. The type of merchant affects Square’s profitability. Food trucks and coffee shops are bad. Doctors, plumbers and contractors are good.
  • The median ticket. The lower the median ticket, the worse things are for Square. A number in the $10-$20 range is disastrous. Above $100 is great.
  • Credit vs. debit mix. Credit transactions are substantially more expensive to process.
  • Transactions per merchant. This will likely show that the vast majority of Square’s “merchants” are people like me with Squares sitting in drawers.
  • Fraud losses. Fraud makes or breaks a payments business. In the early years, PayPal nearly went bankrupt because of fraud.
  • Revenue from non-transaction products. Many of Square’s widely publicized initiatives are failures: Square Wallet, Square in a Box, Square gift cards, Square Cash. For Square to be a business that approaches its valuation, it will need to develop significant revenue from ancillary products.
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Have a nanny? Make sure your taxes are submitted right


Most working parents need to make the important decision of who will take care of their child all day when they are at work. In some cases families are a big support but most times it’s deciding between daycare and a nanny. My friend chose to get a nanny as it provided the option of having personalized attention for the baby and not having to deal with the challenges of drop off and pick up with her and her husband’s demanding work schedules. Hiring a nanny worked well but in a conversation about what they were doing about the administrative duties I realized most people are not sure of how the situation needs to be treated in the tax world.

Are nannies household employees?

Yes! Most people want to consider their nannies as an “independent contractor” to avoid costly payroll taxes and other administrative duties and paperwork that comes with it. Nannies are household employees per the IRS, which means there are administrative and tax responsibilities that need to be fulfilled as employers. Form 1040 – Schedule H is very clear regarding this. it has instructions on what documentation is needed, records to be maintained and kept,  the legal status of the employee to work in the US, Employer Identification Number (EIN), taxes to be paid and forms to be filed.

Payroll taxes and other responsibilities

All household employers, like any other employer, are responsible for payroll taxes. This will entail withholding payroll taxes from the nanny’s paycheck, and remitting those taxes along with the employer portion of the payroll taxes. The employer portion of the payroll taxes include Social Security taxes (FICA) and Medicare 6.2% and 1.45%, respectively, as well as SUI- State Unemployment insurance and FUTA- Federal Unemployment Tax Act which is 6% on the first $7,000.

The nanny will need to be provided a W-2 every year and the employer will need to file a Form 1040, Schedule H (assuming the payment to the nanny was $1,800 or more during the year or $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter).

Other Benefits provided by the employers

It is not required to provide health insurance to nannies. Nor are other benefits like vacations, paid sick time or retirement savings plans mandatory. Families may still need to consider insurance, vacations, sick days and bonuses to get the best talent and keep employees happy in a competitive marketplace.

Can this be hassle-free?

This conversation can deter most parents from hiring nannies and be willing to send their kids to daycare. But it need not be the case. All of these things including finding the perfect nanny can be done from the comfort of one’s home.

  • Finding the perfect nanny. Most nanny agencies will help in finding the perfect fit and also take care of the administrative duties as well. A better and more efficient solution can be using a service like care.com to find the perfect nanny where you would be able to specify the criteria and have a broader selection than most agencies.
  • Payroll services. There are a number of inexpensive payroll services that can be used to pay your nanny. For the most part, you will need to specify the hours worked and the rate per hour and the payroll provider will calculate the taxes and let you print a pay stub. Some will also let you make a direct deposit to the nanny’s account if the nanny prefers that over a check.
  • All these services will help you pay the taxes and prepare a W-2 and the Form 1040 schedule H and any other forms needed depending on the state you are in.
  • Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts. Most employers will provide a flex spending account for Dependent Care. You can defer up to $5,000. This is deducted tax free from your paycheck and thus saves you money. If you’re in the 28% tax bracket, deferring $5,000 will save you $1,400.

Trusting someone to take care of your little one is never an easy task and making the right choices is important. For my friend, finding a nanny who took care of her son was more expensive than daycare, but I feel it was one of the best decisions she made.

Creative Commons image by Stephan Geyer.

Amazon’s Echo is a brilliant, brilliant gadget

Connect buttonRakesh Agrawal is an expert in product design, having designed products for leading companies such as Microsoft and Aol. He has also reviewed products and written for TechCrunch, VentureBeat, The Washington Post and GigaOm.

The best $100 I’ve ever spent on a gadget. The price has since gone up to $150, but it would be a bargain at $300.

Full review to come. But don’t wait, just BUY IT!

After you watch this video, of course.

redesign | news: The Washington Post

The Washington Post | May 15, 2015

Why Google and Facebook won’t suffer the same fate as AOL

Our CEO, Rakesh Agrawal, writes for The Washington Post on why Google and Facebook won’t suffer the fate of AOL.

With Verizon finally putting an end to the misery of AOL’s decade and a half long decline, some are wondering whether today’s juggernauts — Facebook and Google — will face the same fate. The answer is unequivocal: No.

To understand why, it’s helpful to look at why AOL went from being the No. 1 Internet provider in the country to a has-been outpaced by companies such as Facebook and Google. Facebook is worth more than 50 times the acquisition price for AOL. Google nearly 100 times.

redesign | ux: Lists should be presented in an easy-to-understand order

Connect buttonRakesh Agrawal is an expert in product design, having designed products for leading companies such as Microsoft and Aol.

How could this experience be improved?


Notifications screen in iOS.

This is so bizarre that I can’t believe Apple missed it. The notification settings screen is in no discernbile order.

If you want to turn off or change notifications, you have to scroll through the list until you find what you’re looking for.

Read more…

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redesign | ux: Localization should be personalized

Connect buttonRakesh Agrawal is an expert in product design, having designed products for leading companies such as Microsoft and Aol.

How could this Uber experience be improved?

Uber dialog

The text in the dialog here is in Spanish. It’s of no use to me, who speaks only English. Uber knows my language preference because I use it primarily in the United States to get cars in the United Statest.

It’s extra frustrating because the prominence implies that it is imporant.

Messages like this should (ideally) be translated into the language of the user.

Read more…