UX Design and the World of Online Finance

Monday, April 28, 2014


“UX.” It sounds oddly incomplete, like it's the missing the rest of the word. But, for the uninitiated, UX - or User Experience - refers to the work that’s gone into how a website's design responds to the needs of its users. Essentially, UX can be described as seeking to fulfil the goals of making a website attractive to look at, while also being easy, logical, and empowering to use. 

In the world of online finance, the ultimate goal of UX design is to generate answers for the customer and to provide a clear and systematic pathway to those answers that is both understandable and adaptable to their needs at every step of the journey.

The explosive growth of self-service in finance has generated a growing need for banking and financial services companies to find new ways to engage with their customers through web and mobile services. Thus, the importance of UX in the finance sector is increasing.


What it all means

Banking and other financial service companies are faced with a prevailing self-service mindset among customers. Banks have become a bit like supermarkets with customers now shopping around, looking for the best deals on a range of services, moving quickly and demanding immediate responses. The three-day cheque may still exist, but these days rapid fire online banking transactions are fuelling modern finance.

A recent Roy Morgan survey found that in an average 4 week period, 59% or 11.2 million Australians over age 14, used online banking, while 26% of banking customers, or 5 million Australians, used mobile banking or bank apps.

Given the scope of online finance and the demand for mobile solutions growing at such a pace, the importance for financial institutions to get their UX right is clear. Those that fail to get their customers feeling comfortable with online platforms through well-designed user experiences are likely to see their bottom line affected as customers seek out financial institutions which offer more comfortable solutions.


The clear benefits of good UX

An important aspect of UX is the understanding of how people ‘interact’ with websites. A good bank website has the ability, like a really good teller, to work with the customer and to intuit their needs, working in a logical way which allows them to get from place to place easily. When these factors work well, good UX design will generate those two sought-after goals in all customer transactions; loyalty and trust.

In acheiving this end, a financial service website or app often needs the buy-in of various departments within the organisation, from sales to marketing to IT and human resources. If these interests are not aligned, the goal of good UX design can suffer.

A common fault is when commercial imperative overwhelms designing a strong online customer experience. This leads to a sense that the institution is disconnected from the customer's needs or is biased towards using a certain system as a means of escaping a solution through inflexible or non-adaptive thinking – a factor that might be characterised as “the-computer-says-no” syndrome.

Online processes that block or slow customers from accessing their accounts, or illogical leaps that defy a user’s intuition and learned behaviours can turn customers off as fast as grumpy tellers or long branch queues.

Banks and other types of financial institutions historically have spent a great deal of time and resources on the appearance of their brand, the design of their shop-fronts or branches and the dress code for their sales staff. All these factors impact upon the customers' experience with that institution. Online user experience is now no different, and in fact there is an unparelled increase in the need to impact positively on a customer’s experience of their financial institutions online.

Ignoring website design in an industry moving fast into self-service is a dangerous game for any bank or financial institution but getting it wrong is almost as damaging. It's worth the effort to get UX on the table and to get it right.