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Best UX Design Practices for Personal-Banking Applications

November 4, 2019

Building a UX strategy for fintech (Financial Technology) applications and Web sites is different from designing for any other service industry. For fintech software—which enables financial-services companies to provide automated services—speed and security matter more than for any other type of service. There is a lot at stake: the solution must efficiently and safely handle clients’ money and online data. While a balance of reliability and usability is what typically keeps an application’s users engaged, fintech cannot compromise on speed and security.

In this article, I’ll discuss UX design best practices for creating a user experience specifically for the fintech services market. The UX design process for fintech applications and Web sites should comprise the following steps:

  1. Research your customer.
  2. Create a user-journey map.
  3. Define KPIs and create touchpoint scenarios.
  4. Visualize your UX design concepts.
  5. Adapt to the fintech market’s requirements for technology innovations.

Now, let’s take a look at each of these steps in turn.

1. Research your customer.

First, define your primary customers—the audience that represents the most significant percentage of traffic.

How to Research Your Target Audience

Start by interviewing potential customers who currently use your non-digital products or services, if you offer them. Ask these customers to complete a short survey, providing their age, occupation, and interests. Then transfer this data into a digital database. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet.

If you don’t currently provide physical products or in-person services, but are starting a business from scratch, the quickest way of finding out about your audience is through targeted advertising. In Google Ads, you can adjust the location, age, and interests of your potential visitors. As Figure 1 shows, analyzing audience insights in Google Ads is a cost-effective way of getting to know your potential customers.

Figure 1—Audience Insights in Google Ads
Audience Insights in Google Ads

Image source: Google APIs

Create a simple landing page with the essential details of your offer, then run advertising campaigns for different target groups. By monitoring your campaign statistics, you’ll be able to see what audience segment is most engaged with your service.

2. Create a user-journey map.

But just knowing your target audience is not enough. You should also be aware of how your existing and potential customers behave online. Project possible future scenarios based on any existing user interface, identify problem areas, and provide a universal fintech user experience such as that shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2—Example of a universal fintech user experience
Example of a universal fintech user experience

Image source: Bangkok Post

The most common UX-design mistakes in banking solutions include the following:

  • visual overload—Cluttering a design with too many buttons, images, and videos makes a banking application feel too complicated and results in a poor user experience. Eliminate visual clutter and strive to convey a message of simplicity.
  • complex user journeys—Provide all of the information users need to complete their tasks at its point of use. For example, users should not need to do research on the way international money transfers work. Your application should provide enough information or give users guidance on how to complete a money transfer without consulting third-party services.
  • a lack of user control—All pages must contain navigational elements so users can return to the home page at any point. The same rule applies to the user’s ability to edit financial transactions or cancel an action. You should take into account all possible user mistakes and provide undo or a Back button to enable the user to rectify them.
  • big differences in new versions—Sometimes designers make too many changes in an application’s user interface, so users feel thoroughly confused. Unfortunately, the majority of users might prefer an old version of the user interface because of its familiarity. So don’t waste your time and effort making unnecessary changes that would just frustrate customers. Instead, iteratively design incremental improvements, as shown in Figure 3, and test your audience’s reaction to them.
Figure 3—Multiple variations of a user-interface element
Multiple variations of a user-interface element

Image source: Medium

To prevent such UX-design issues, convene a focus group to help you learn more about your target audience. That focus group should participate in all stages of development and testing, when each participant can share opinions, criticisms, and other feedback about the user experience. Only by analyzing their feedback at the beginning of the design process can you determine the right course of action for the entire project.

3. Define KPIs and create touchpoint scenarios.

To get the most out of your collaboration with UX research participants and focus groups, define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the banking service. Compile a list of desired user interactions and well-thought-out touchpoint scenarios, showing how users can perform them.

The most common examples of desired user interfaces for conversion actions include the following:

  • registration—Users must be able to create an account.
  • completing a transaction—Specify what kinds of transactions correspond to various touchpoint scenarios and test each of them separately.
  • adding money to a bank account—For an account to be active, users must be able to add funds to their account.

Once you’ve defined the service’s objectives, evaluate the functionality that corresponds to those user interactions. An excellent way to start is by asking the following questions:

  • How many clicks does it take to perform an action?
  • What are a feature’s possible security risks?
  • Are the instructions clear?
  • What information must a user provide to achieve the desired result?

If some features lack accessibility, discuss the design solution with the UX research and testing team. Only after you’ve made sure that everyone is on the same page can you have an in-depth, meaningful discussion of the prototype, based on UX research and focus-group feedback. Plus, it would be beneficial to analyze complete fintech case studies to gain step-by-step guidance from successful projects.

4. Visualize the UX-design concepts.

Undoubtedly, all of the previous steps would help you to better understand your service’s basic UX concepts. At this point, it’s time to start developing a visual design, including choosing a color scheme, visualizing screen flows, and working on a cohesive visual representation of the service. To accomplish these goals, follow these steps:

Step 1: Assign each desired user scenario to a particular feature. Create a basic map of your application’s essential functionality, incorporating all desired actions. This step gives the UX team the backbone of the service.

Step 2: Create a specific visual language. It’s time to work on the details. At this stage, you need to develop a color scheme, menu style, and profile structure.

Step 3: Create an MVP—or minimum valuable product—that can help you to prove your application concept would work. Outline a set of features and determine which features are most crucial to your application’s success.

Based on the information you’ve gathered, you can create a basic, but fully functional prototype of your banking application, release it to a small community of beta-testers, and monitor their initial feedback.

5. Adapt to the fintech market’s requirements for technology innovations.

All areas of fintech services are undergoing rapid change, and the requirements for online-finance projects are increasing rapidly. The growth of expectations is apparent. With General Data Protection Regulation, governments expect financial industries to provide security by default—and for user-interface standards to keep pace with these requirements. Things that governments previously considered optional have become must-haves, as Figure 4 shows.

Figure 4—Emerging norms in banking
Emerging norms in banking

Image source: McKinsey

Must-Implement UX Innovations for Fintech

Important UX innovations for fintech include the following:

  • artificial intelligence—Having a chatbot built into a fintech application or Web site is no longer considered a design gimmick. Users expect to be able to get quick answers to basic questions automatically, without having to call support or visiting the company’s office.
  • two-factor authentication—All safe banking solutions require that users both create their password and authenticate it via their mobile-phone number. The reason for this security requirement is simple: there were too many cases of users’ passwords being leaked. Mobile-phone authentication reassures users that their banking service takes privacy and security seriously.
  • personalization—Users should be able to get personalized search results and suggestions and engage in online-support consultations.
  • big data—Users don’t like having to provide the same information over and over again, so an online service’s ability to remember user names, passwords, and phone numbers is common practice. On the other hand, customers also expect businesses to handle their private information responsibly. Fintech companies should be ready to explain how they use every bit of data they require from users.

Bottom Line

I can sum up these UX design best practices and trends in five words: fintech companies need to adapt. Staying in touch with customers and analyzing their experiences and habits is no longer a competitive advantage. It is a must.

Personalization requires thoughtful planning and thorough testing. Be sure to stay in touch with your customers’ preferences, monitor UX design best practices for fintech services, and implement innovations. But you cannot achieve personalization through a single strategy. You need to combine multiple design approaches and test each innovation. 

Head of Digital Marketing at DDI Development Company

Kharkiv, Ukraine

Alexey KutsenkoAlexey develops UX and marketing strategy for various fintech startups. He knows marketing best practices, is passionate about User Experience, and watches current industry trends.  Read More

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