Change the way you notify users of new expenses!
Maybe I am just an idiot, but I keep on making the same mistake over and over with Splitwise.
The problem is that when someone adds an expense where I owe them XX amount, i get normally get a push notification for that specific expense. Lets say my house mate adds an expense where I owe him 100. I then get a notification that says an expense of 100 has now been added. Almost every time this happens, my thought process is, 'Cool, I'll quickly pay that person the 100 that i owe them". The problem is, I forget to check the app to see what my actual "settle up" balance is, and normally end up paying them the 100, instead of the settle up balance.
I think the notification should rather read something like "John has added a new expense. You now owe "John" [settle up balance]". That way, I (1) know that a new expense has been added, and (2) I know how much I ACTUALLY owe them, as opposed to that expense in isolation.
I realise that the current expenses do make sense in a way, but I keep misinterpreting them and paying the amount that is presented to me in the notification instead of the settle up balance. I don't need to know the amount of the latest expense added, I just need to know what I now, as of that moment, owe them.
Key Takeaway: Don't present individual expense amounts in notifications as they are irrelevant, only present my current running balance (settle up balance). The only thing I care about at any given point in time, is how much i owe that person, all things considered (which is the whole premise of split wise). If i want to see individual expenses, then I can go into the app and check them.
I agree and disagree. I would like to have how much the total expense was - it is good to have an overview of the expense itself. Let me explain: If I am sharing a flat with 4 people and one goes to the supermarket to buy toilet paper (obviously for all), I am ok with X USD until XX USD, but if he/she gets a hexa-layers hello kitty paper that costs XXXX USD, I might not be ok with it.
On the other hand, getting how much your share is could be interesting for settling up purposes (I also do it in cash or transfers).
Bottomline 2 cents: Notification, not to be a bible, could be something in the lines of: "John added an expense of 100 USD with groceries. Your cut is 25 USD."
AdminSplitwise Support (-, Splitwise) commented
Hey Adrian, thanks for the details! It helps a lot to hear exactly how someone is using Splitwise, and I'll pass on that information at our next design meeting.
For what it's worth, most Splitwise users let their balances add up over time and only settle up once every month or two – but you're definitely not the only person who settles up after each individual item. One of the hardest challenges in making Splitwise has been finding a way to satisfy both types of people, especially when both types of people share the same group :) I'm not sure if our push notifications will change in the exact way you propose, but I'd love to test out some alternate wordings and see if we can find any improvements.
Adrian Stanford commented
I see your point about the notification and using split wise integrated payment options.
I am South African, so none of the in-app payment options are applicable, so we simply use the app to tell us how much to pay each, and then we use local electronic payment options outside of the app environment - and that is probably the reason the notification system doesn’t quite make sense to me - because when I see the notification, my instinct is to go straight to my internet banking app and make a payment from the amount i was presented with, rather than launching the app, tapping settle up (and i always forget to do this instinctively) and then only switching to my payment method outside of Splitwise.