Author: Gergely Ambrovics, Head of UX & Marketing at ApPello
Banks aim to reach every single potential customer. From seniors to entrepreneurial startups, everyone should be able to find what they are looking for. When they walk into a branch office they are seen immediately and staff know precisely how to treat them, in what way to talk to them and provide them with a service. But what’s the situation on the internet?
Can a single online banking interface meet everyone’s taste, or is this really mission impossible?
As digitalisation gathers pace, the role of banks is increasingly shifting from transactional services towards consumer services. Banks are ever more conscious when it comes to shaping their product portfolios and range of related services. They also aim to follow and satisfy the demands of target groups with their user interface design. The ideal situation would be if a customer logging in online received the same special treatment as somebody walking into a branch office.
Any professional UX designer can instantly come up with a handful of methods for deciphering (in mere seconds) who virtually ‘walked into’ the online bank based on cookies, social media profile or even just the first few mouse moves. From that moment on we could be winners because the interface could be altered to appeal to different customer segments.
Unfortunately, however, we are going to have to disappoint everyone.
Thus, UX designers responsible for the ergonomics of banking product sites are left with no other choice than putting together a ‘one-size-fits-all’ interface that gets the thumbs up from everyone. But it is not really thumbs up that developers are aiming for. Instead, the task is to attain a smooth unobtrusive convenience. Similar to the best referees in a football match: they do the best job when nobody even notices them on the pitch.
But even so, what UX design principles should a developer follow when it comes to filling out a loan application?
Maybe a youthful, buzzy interface with the right visual stimuli, loans selectable by clicking icons, maturity periods that can be fine-tuned using a slider, and a smiley chatbot window can net the creator a design award. Meanwhile, anyone older than the Z generation is turned off by all this glitz. They are the ones expecting a more conservative attitude from banks: forms in black and white, descriptions without frills, precise parameters. No segments can be ignored.
Seen in this light it comes as no surprise that the most successful players on the field are those who play the safety game with consecutive, cautious innovations (for example: Revolut in terms of UI). Only fully tailored innovations are transplanted into tried and tested practice of many years. One such example is the ApPello’s Digital Onboarding & Lending Portal allowing the user to select light and night mode depending on time of day or light conditions.
An online interface should be user-friendly, simple to operate and responsive. The visitor must receive the information that is important to him/her in a way that is convincing and that allows for independent assessment. The younger, urban generation prefers plenty of graphics, icons, micro-interactions, moving illustrations, embedded videos and isn’t bothered by multitask management or shared screens –sometimes they are more interested in using an application then in banking actually. The older generation goes more for clear, textual information rather than video or tutorial pages, finds the written word more authentic, is happy with downloadable, even pdf documents, and doesn’t panic if it takes more than just a couple of clicks to get what is needed – they need clear and forgiving methods because their goal is to avoid any mistake in digital banking. This generation understands linear logic and is grateful for navigation assistance. It includes those who also welcome the network diagram of the menu structure. They’re not bothered by multiple security checks either – while Generation Z has a shorter fuse in this regard.
This doesn’t mean that every website is going to look the same for ever:
Designs move with the times, which means that this profession moves faster than glaciers: have you noticed, for example, that on ever more interfaces you have to click buttons with a red background?
Of course, some well-known red-branded banks, utilities and telecommunications companies have contributed to this change. Whereas earlier, red was always associated with cancelling, deleting, negating, this is now changing: red is a marker of activity, speed and action. Our expertise lies in the fact that this knowledge of ours is not only present subconsciously, but we actively rely on it.
The safest way is the middle of the road. Of course, the developer should also be proficient in financial services, marketing trends, a little psychology and sociology. And, naturally, the client’s corporate image must also be kept in mind. To achieve and facilitate such an approach a flexible and proven banking platform is a must.