User experience and design is the new ‘must have’ feature when building mobile banking apps. Banks can no longer get away with the use of out dated design frameworks and form based layouts. It is absolutely critical that to achieve above average results when launching a mobile proposition you take a step back, exhale, and apply the following 7 principles.
1. Provide visibility
Users should be informed about what is going on through appropriate feedback at the point it matters. This needs to be considered not only in the context of when the customer is in the app, but also from the point of discovery and access. To do this, make sure it clear who the service is for, and what is required to access it, even before a user downloads the app. Once in the app, you should always be transparent on progress through the utilisation of loading spinners, transitions and clear, concise messages. And remember, it is more important to communicate when things aren’t happening than when they are.
2. Customer control and freedom
You need to make it easy for customers to avoid mistakes with the use of clear calls to action and strong input controls. Users will become impatient when they are unable to complete a process and it is unclear why. This is one sure fire way to introduce a drop out funnel. In most cases problems can be avoided through a bit of brainstorming and testing. For every journey review the different scenarios a customer may undertake and play around with these different circumstances. Ask the question at every point – what will happen when a customer does this or enters that. From here you can implement steps in copy and design to avoid silly issues.
3. Speak the customer’s language
Speak the customer’s language, with words, phrases and a tone of voice familiar to the customer. During the early stages of your initiative start creating an app glossary so that terms can be consistently applied throughout the development lifecycle. Creating a glossary is also an opportunity to evaluate if any killer features warrant a special brand name e.g. Express Checkout. Where applicable you should replicate terminology used in other distribution channels. This is especially important when related to common features or journeys. Equally don’t replicate terms where it doesn’t make sense. The term ‘click here’ being a common misnomer applied in mobile banking apps.
4. Consistency and standards
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. In a similar process to item 3, define up front what standards you are going to apply. How are links represented, do you advise the user if they are going to be taken out of the app, will errors be presented in line, will you utilise landscape displays… In most cases there is no right or wrong answer. It depends on what your customers are already familiar with, what the objective of the app or user journey is and what type of customer personas you are designing against.
5. Recognition rather than recall
Your customers should not have to remember information. You should already know it. Use all the data you have to hand to personalise and streamline the customer experience. If you need to collect data to avoid a customer from re-entering it multiple times in the future, then do so. Don’t just collect data in the context of using it for that user journey. Customers hate having to enter data that they have already provided, or expect you to know. It not only creates rework but emphasises how disconnected the bank is from their needs.
6. Flexibility and efficiency of use
It is time to move away from a one size fits all experience and customers should be allowed to tailor frequent actions. This becomes especially important as mobile banking apps become more bloated. As more features get exposed, and new capabilities developed, it is going to get increasingly hard to fit all those nifty features into one small screen. To work around these challenges let your customers decide. Let them expose to the top what features they most commonly use. Don’t make viewing the nearest a feature in the ‘more’ tab if that is the main reason they customer uses the app. Let them default to what they see and what they do to expedite the process. LinkedIn does a good job of this on their new apps by letting you customise the navigation.
7. Aesthetic and minimalist design
The user interface should be pleasing on the eye but not include any gimmicky add-ons. Don’t indulge the pet preferences of your lead designer at the sake of customer experience. Make it look crisp, clean and in line with your brand. Copy should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed – keep it short. I have been involved in some developments where weeks are spent on drafting verbose copy, only for customers to simply ignore it because it was too long. End users always skim read and assume that they what know what is required. No matter how well you think it’s written, the main priority should be less is more.