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Advice / Career Paths / Career Stories

How This Cash App Product Designer Is Redefining Users’ Relationship With Money

Kai Jordan, a product designer at Cash App
Kai Jordan, a product designer at Cash App.
| Courtesy of Kai Jordan

Kai Jordan didn’t have any intention of working as a product designer—in fact, her original plan in college was to major in psychology and see where that took her. But a computer science course she took to fulfill a mandatory math credit changed everything.

“I learned the basics of human-centered design, like how to define the problem space, utilize user personas, conduct research, design wireframes, prototype, and even code,” she says. “Something just clicked!”

Shortly after, Jordan decided to major in media arts and sciences instead and began interning at software companies.

“It felt great to constantly be excited about the things I was learning, and also feel confident that I was capable of creating an end-to-end experience that I could watch others use and enjoy,” says Jordan, who today is a product designer at fintech company Cash App.

Here, she talks about what led her to Cash App, how the company encourages her to be innovative in her work, and why interior design has become a source of inspiration.

What attracted you to work at Cash App? How did you know it would be a good fit?

What attracted me to Cash App was the people, which is also the reason I'm still here two years later. I’ve never worked with folks who are this smart, talented, driven, humble, kind, and thoughtful. It became really clear to me while interviewing that the designers were passionate about their work and genuinely believed in Cash App’s mission to “redefine the world’s relationship with money.” Once I learned more about how Cash App aimed to make that mission a reality in creative and innovative ways—and for a user base who looks like me—I felt like I had finally found what I was looking for in both work and company culture.

What are you responsible for as a product designer? What does a normal day at your job look like?

I’m on the Families team, where I’m taking all that I learned about trust, safety, and security from my time working on account access and applying it to new features we’re creating for younger users. We call these users “sponsored accounts,” meaning they are linked to a parent or guardian’s main account.

A typical day for me usually involves helping define our product strategy, pushing pixels in Figma, aligning cross-functional teammates, and when that’s all buttoned up, working with my project team to pitch features to our execs.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

My first project on the Families team is to create an intuitive and exciting way for sponsored accounts to manage their finances, while also balancing trust and privacy by giving parents and guardians just the right amount of visibility into their sponsored users’ spending behavior. My goal is to have sponsored account users feel like they can autonomously explore their finances, while also giving their parents peace of mind.

How is the Families team helping make Cash App a disruptor in the industry?

When I was growing up, the way I learned about finances was through trips to the bank with my dad, where I’d put all my coins in a machine and add the total amount to my shared bank account. When I got a bit older, it evolved into a weekly cash allowance if I finished my chores, but I never deposited that money into an account to watch it grow over time. I never really had visibility into my own account, much less did I think about things like stocks or compound interest.

Now that we’re in a new digital era, it’s really exciting that we get to use technology to bring more transparency and knowledge to both parents and younger users in order to help build financial literacy. Since our features have to be clear enough for all users regardless of their financial acumen, we’ve been able to create an accessible approach to complex topics and give parents a space where they can help teach fiscal responsibility. Increasing access and knowledge have always been pillars of Cash App’s ethos, and I love that we as a business have been able to prioritize continuing to evolve and extend that education.

How do you and the design team compete on creativity and continue to hone your craft and push boundaries?

I typically have design critiques twice a week and a monthly all-hands meeting. I’m constantly impressed by the work everyone shares, from the hardware team’s designs that customers can use to personalize their Cash Card to the new website that clearly outlines our mission and individual product features with a burst of color and motion. When I see this type of work, I feel inspired to keep growing in my own craft.

Designers on our team also genuinely want to help each other level up. For example, one of my teammates started sharing her work by first walking through slides that outlined the problem, project goals, and type of feedback she was looking for. The rest of our team soon did the same thing, which helped everyone provide feedback with a more complete understanding of the context.

I’m also personally passionate about helping improve team processes. I’ve put together onboarding decks to teach cross-functional partners about the ways product designers work and best collaborate, created guides on Figma hygiene, and shared prototype templates for common animations. I’m always looking for ways we can work better together.

What do you value most about Cash App’s culture?

I love that Cash App really embodies the concept that good ideas come from everywhere and everyone. No matter what team you’re on, you are encouraged to weigh in with opinions. There are no egos, no one wants to see you fail, and everyone’s your cheerleader because we’re all in this together.

We also really care about the communities we serve, especially those who have been excluded from traditional banking systems. We routinely collaborate and partner with organizations that promote diversity in tech. Since joining Cash App, I’ve given talks at Useful School, which is a pay-what-you-can design bootcamp for people of color, and attended networking events in partnership with ustwo x Where are the Black Designers? I feel grateful that Cash App is investing in my own community and that I get to participate and be the voice that was lacking when I was first getting into design.

What skills are essential to succeed as a product designer?

Get comfortable sifting through ambiguity and complexity when solving problems, and make sure to leave your pride at the door because constant feedback is just part of the job.

I also think the ability to tell and sell a story is just as important as the design itself. When preparing presentations for new features, I always ask myself, “Who is my audience, and what type of context do they need to paint the bigger picture?” The answer informs how I frame the problem and goals, then I’ll use data to support why it’s something worth exploring. After all of that is established, I can get into what I’m making, why I made it that way, and where I can take it in the future. The recipe works every time!

What advice do you have for product designers interested in a job at Cash App?

One of my main recommendations for any designer, regardless of whether it’s for your portfolio or an interview, is to turn your case studies into a story. Answer the who, what, when, where, and why. Make sure you show iterations and outline what the pros and cons were for each approach and how you decided which direction to take. Always make sure you touch on how you were able to collaborate with other teams, such as research, writing, engineering, or product.

Lastly, be ready to talk about what obstacles you faced and what the final outcome and impact were once you overcame them. By being able to tell a cohesive and thorough story, others will be able to more easily follow your thought process so they can focus on your craft and strength as a product design partner.

As someone with a creative role, where do you turn for inspiration?

I find a lot of my inspiration nowadays through interior design. My home and the way I feel when I’m in it makes a difference in my productivity, especially now that I mostly work remotely. I follow a lot of interior designers who are earlier in their careers and more hands-on in the renovation process, from choosing materials and textures to actually knocking down walls before focusing on fixtures, furniture, and decor. Some of my favorites at the moment are Madelynn Furlong Hudson and Paige Wassel. Finding the push and pull between aesthetics and practicality, or visuals and usability, is the same delicate balance we tackle in product design.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you?

My go-to fun fact is that I have a bearded dragon named Paloma. I got him when I first moved to San Francisco six years ago when I was feeling lonely during a time of huge transition. We moved to New York together, so he’s seen me through a lot of phases and evolutions. He now has a cat sibling named Midnight—and they surprisingly get along!