By FintechOS · August 26, 2021
8 minute read

10 UX Dos & Don’ts

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The secret of good UX lies in customer-centric design. Read on for a list of ten rules behind this secret. 

Leave your ego at the door and work entirely for the benefit of other people. These two unspoken rules are part of the philosophy which guides user experience (UX) designers, whose work is of fundamental importance to any customer-facing digital financial institutions.  

When the pandemic forced billions of people into lockdown, banks were forced to hurriedly push through ambitious digitization programs which packed several years of development into just a few months. UX teams were at the heart of these transformations, working behind the scenes to build the journeys, products, and experiences modern customer’s demand. 

Designing Digital-First  

We know that digital is no longer an optional nice-to-have, but a necessary tool for survival. Incumbent banks were already locked into competition with digital-first neobanks before the pandemic. When the lockdowns hit, the branch infrastructure and legacy processes that already looked old and creaky suddenly became totally unworkable. The push forward had to be dramatic and fast, with a firm focus on UX.  

Deloitte surveyed 318 banks in 39 countries on 5 continents and found that 60% have closed or shortened opening hours of branches yet have also “implemented new digital features” including account opening, contactless payments or remote identification and verification. 

If these services aren’t laser-focused on customers’ needs, banks risk losing users’ attention or, worse, their custom. According to some UX experts, 78% of the time that customers spend on offline banking services is wasted. When consumers encounter bad UX, there’s a chance they may defect to a rival. But when business users face the same problem, the results can be catastrophic.  

One Forrester analyst has claimed that “bad user interface design” cost a major bank $500 million, after it mistakenly sent $900 million to a client’s creditors instead of the intended $7.8 million. Creditors refused to return all the money and a judge ruled that the bank was not entitled to recoup these lost funds, even though the money was “indisputably transferred by mistake”.  

Andrew Hogan, Principal Analyst, argued that better UX design could have prevented this disastrously expensive error. 

“Avoiding mistakes is one of the six ways better employee user experience (UX) drives better business results,” he wrote. “It’s rarely as dramatic as a single $500 million incident – at most companies, it’s a steady drumbeat of avoidable mistakes that cost time and money and could have been prevented through better UX design.” 

So how can banks improve their UX and what should they be focusing on in the age of digital-first finance?  

Good Experiences 

Florin Ursu, Head of UX at FintechOS, believes the secret of good UX lies in customer-centric design that is entirely built around the needs of users, as well as the requirements of a business. This sometimes means that beautiful but complex features or aesthetic ornamentation must be removed if it doesn’t serve the wider customer journey.  

Florin highlighted Revolut as an example of great UX, praising the way it simplified complex procedures such as international payments, which can be made with a user-friendly interface inside the app that tracks the progress of money as it moves between accounts.  

“If you fake UX or cut corners, the customer can feel it,” Florin said. “But if you sincerely mix the needs of customers and the wider business you will hit the jackpot.” 

“If you fake UX or cut corners, the customer can feel it” – Florin Ursu, Head of UX at FintechOS

Outside of banking, Florin was also impressed with Cherrisk, a Hungarian subsidiary of Uniqa, an Austrian company, which gamifies good behaviour by giving users cherries which are earned through exercise and can be swapped for products or discounts.  

“We have to understand the user and find out exactly what they want,” he added. “UX requires an exacting, precise methodology involving exacting research to discover users’ needs, which are then blended with the needs of the bank. You could build the most beautiful user interface packed full of sophisticated functionality, but if it doesn’t serve the user then it does not work from a UX perspective.  

“Imagine we have three screens filled with information about my bank accounts or credit cards. These screens must be simple and readable. If they are filled with animations or illustrations that do not satisfy these two purposes, then they are not effective. UX is there to provide quick and simple ways for users to process and distribute information.” 

Banking on the future of UX  

During the period of digitization which has taken place over the past few years, there have been many examples of great UX in the banking sector.  

Before Virgin Money started work on its new credit card app, it carried out behavioural psychology research which allowed its designer to empathise with the needs of its customers. The result was a 10 point upward swing in its net promoter score – a metric which measures how likely a customer would be to recommend the product to a friend. This success demonstrates the importance of research during, before and even after the UX design phase.  

Apple has also been praised for UX work on its Apple Card product, which featured an onboarding process designed with mobile in mind. Anyone who had engaged with any of its previous products would be instantly familiar with the onboarding interface, which was stripped back, highly functional and took users through a journey which included KYC and credit checks. Then, once users start spending with Apple Card, they can see a detailed rundown of where their money is going with spending categorized with a color and a label, which is applied to graphs so users can analyse trends in their spending. Apple’s Card is a great example of minimalist UX which is both attractive and efficient.  

UX For The World  

Banks are often borderless, working in territories around the world. Yet Alex Gurgulescu, a UX designer who has worked at IBM and Daimler, said it was important to know the customer and recognise diversity when designing for specific markets.  

“One size fits all is the wrong way to go,” he said. “In most cases users need UX that is customized to suit them. UX is about creating products that are frictionless and efficient. To do this, designers must carry out deep research in the region they are creating products for. 

“Colors have different associations in different countries for instance, so a button may need to be a different colour to work effectively. Psychology also plays a big role in any kind of UX work because, in the end, because you are interacting with humans.” 

FintechOS can help your bank improve its UX, so make sure you check out how Lighthouse lets you bring customer-centric, data-driven digital products and services to market in weeks, not months.  

10 UX Dos & Don’ts  

  • Do keep the interface simple and focused on user needs 
  • Don’t introduce unnecessary complexity to your digital bank UX design 
  • Do consider users’ needs by carrying out in-depth research  
  • Don’t introduce your own biases into the UX design 
  • Do recognise diversity and design UX to fit the needs of your specific audience or territory 
  • Don’t assume that one size fits all  
  • Do keep the interface simple and tightly focused on users’ needs 
  • Don’t introduce complex elements unless they service the users 
  • Do keep the experience consistent so it is effortless to interact with 
  • Don’t suddenly introduce unfamiliar elements which confuse customers 



MAIN PHOTO Credit: Unsplash

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