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Design and development of a retirement financial planning app

RetireEasy’s LifePlan is the UK’s first ‘total’ retirement planning application. The comprehensive tool helps British people evaluate and plan their potential finances and lifestyle during retirement. Cyber-Duck was approached to transform their original idea into a fully-fledged product: from research, brand and design, right through to developing the complex back-end.

Key stats


conversion rate, from visitor to sign-up


Features in National Newspapers



An HSBC study of 50 to 70-year-olds discovered almost 80% were concerned about their financial future during retirement. After all, it can be difficult for many to calculate how their assets and income will cover their desired expenditure, over their lifetime.

RetireEasy wanted to change this with a clever web app to empower retirees. By submitting their accounts, income, and assets, they could visualise future income and expenses, exploring ‘what-if’ scenarios. Cyber-Duck was challenged to take this innovative idea, map the calculation algorithm from their spreadsheet, and turn it into a great experience for users. Our objectives included:

  1. Transform the complex financial data into a user-friendly Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.
  2. Enable comprehensive, accurate retirement planning: allowing users to input personal data and visualise their financial forecast.
  3. Provide a flexible record, so users could test different scenarios and approaches to their finances, and discover how they can achieve their desired, retirement lifestyle. 


Our user-centred design approach was critical, as we weren’t the target market for this product. By understanding their needs, desires and concerns, we could create a user experience that was logical, convenient and above all, pleasurable for people of (or near) retirement age.

We conducted comprehensive user research with the target audience before and throughout the design and prototyping process. Methods ranged from focus groups and surveys, to one-on-one interviews and usability testing early sketches.

We also interviewed and did card-sorting exercises with subject matter experts, evaluating the best logical flow of information. Here, we worked with independent financial experts who often create plans with clients, using just pen and paper.

It was clear that RetireEasy’s utility depended on user input of their complex financial data. With careful planning, the forms could be segmented into a logical narrative. Using progressive disclosure, we mapped out user journeys (based on our personas) that ensured users wouldn’t face an input field that didn’t relate to their circumstances. This increased the ease of completion and reduced confusion.

RetireEasy's My Desired Income graphs shown on a MacBook


Once the flows of control were established, we iteratively built semi-functional prototypes of all core front- and back-end interfaces. These were improved through further rounds of eye tracking, usability testing and user interviews.

During the build, we encountered and overcame three key challenges. We customised the Symphony PHP framework to securely store user data in a multi-tenancy application. Likewise, we created an intelligent, accessible and easy to use dashboard using AJAX visualisation charts. We also added a graph library, which visualised the accounts and highlighted scenarios where liquid assets could run out.

Under our agile philosophy, we rapidly built the core functionality required for RetireEasy alongside our design process. The final website included user registration, a subscription engine and a dynamic form builder, which generated all the input fields, validation rules and database maps.

We created a journal of accounts, where any inherited common feature (i.e. taxable, income generating, yield…) had unique rules (e.g. SIPP 25% drawdown rule, interest only mortgage, CGT on investment property sale…). This meant we could start with simple bank accounts, ISA and state pensions, validating all calculations one by one. Then, we added more complex accounts every week: including business investments, mortgages, and SIPP.

REasy 04


We successfully produced RetireEasy’s LifePlan in just 9 months, enabling the client to showcase it at a market-specific event at Earl's Court and kick the product's life off in style. It became the world's first web-based retirement application that could help people to plan their financial lifestyle visually. Using intelligent input screens, the website could capture all income and expenses in seven easy steps. Then, it turned this complex range of financial data into intuitive, easily understood graphs and reports. 

In the first year since launch, RetireEasy has attracted thousands of new members, with a high 30% conversion rate from visitor to sign-up. On launch, they gained national press coverage in The Independent, The Guardian and the Daily Mail. From their sector, they received positive reviews from the Investors Chronicle, Professional Pensions and IFA Online.

Key stats


conversion rate, from visitor to sign-up


Features in National Newspapers


Investors Chronicle Logo

I don't often plug products, but I think that RetireEasy is offering the 'holy grail' solution that many of you have been waiting for...

Personal Finance Editor, Investors Chronicle

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