Designing banking apps can be quite a demanding process, given how complex and important the topic of money is for everyone. A person that chooses to use a digital product to manage their money grants it a fair amount of trust—even the smallest of design and experience hiccups can undermine it.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some banking app UX practices aimed to help businesses ensure that their users feel safe while using their products. We’ll touch on accessibility, communication, and a host of other things that help improve Fintech products.
Let’s dive right in, shall we?
The state of banking UX
Banking apps have been somewhat late to the mobile boom. They were there, but they weren’t really good. The earliest mobile banking products that were released around 2009 had a few features, mostly geared towards balance inquiries and finding ATM/branch locations.
Ten years later, banking apps have become somewhat of a standard in the industry. According to an ABA report, 87% of institutions with an asset range between $50 million and $15 billion have developed and released their own banking apps.
The incentive is there—the fact that these companies choose to invest a considerable amount of effort and resources into their products is a sign of overwhelming acceptance and trust from users.
More importantly, this skyrocketing adoption is nowhere near halting. There are now over 3 billion people using digital banking worldwide—this number is projected to continue growing.
UX principles banking apps should consider
Creating a usable and enjoyable UI revolves around making the user’s experience intuitive. Your primary goal should be designing a product that doesn’t place too much cognitive load on the person using it and ensuring that their learning curve isn’t too steep.
Another thing that is also worth paying close attention to is making your app evoke positive emotions. After all, we all care for joyful experiences.
Let’s explore how you can achieve the two.
Make things easy to find
Banking apps come in different shapes and forms, but they all have a single unified goal—managing people’s finances. That’s why information like account balance, recent spending, spending analytics, or anything relevant should be easily accessible to the person using the product.
The important thing to mention here is that UX research is absolutely critical here because to ensure superior findability and discoverability, designers need a solid information architecture (IA). They need to know how users think about categories and how they navigate the niche that your product or service is in.
More importantly, to ensure that your IA is rooted in a correct interpretation of user research data, it’s critical to test the design vigorously. This is where most usability, discoverability, findability, and other “-ility” issues will surface, which will guide you towards a better, frictionless experience.
Lead by innovating
We mentioned previously that banks weren’t exactly fast in adopting digital experiences, and they can be a little conservative when it comes to innovating them. Many bank applications seem to just copy their competitors’ products, which allows the more daring and open-minded brands to shine with new features.
Being competitive in this space partly revolves around having a framework geared toward continuous innovation. This also has to do with the ever-changing intergenerational perception of money and personal finances—we all agree on what money is, but people in different age categories think about it differently.
Provide educational content
Unfortunately, the importance of financial education hasn’t really been grasped worldwide, and there aren’t many educational systems that focus on providing it outside programs that focus on it.
Banks can and probably should aim to provide their customers with accessible and bite-sized educational content that would help people make better, sounder decisions with their money.
This is a valuable tool for a person’s experience with a product. Imagine a service that helps you manage your finances that also cares about and contributes to your financial wellbeing—it’s a valuable source of customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Ensure clear communication around regulations
Financial services normally come with lots of regulation since they’re dealing with people’s vital resources. Regulations might limit the capability of your products and the ease of the experience. Although important for a person’s security, things like two-factor authentication (2FA) can create hiccups in a banking app’s UX. This is why it’s important to communicate the importance of such security regulations.
Yes, sometimes this may seem like an unfair disadvantage, but by providing clear communication to users, you can help them understand the importance of this added friction and use it to build additional trust.
After all, it’s for everyone's safety. Unfortunately, user don’t always appreciate it—they sometimes churn as they don’t understand why their seamless experience has to be interrupted by such events.
Plus, this could be a valuable opportunity to educate your users on scams and help them recognize and avoid them. A product should aim to strike a balance between convenience and security.
Create tailored experiences
Banking products that leverage personalization in a strategic and holistic manner are currently enjoying impressive returns on their investment. By personalizing beyond a person’s basic information, apps can emphasize the value users are receiving and build a long-lasting relationship with them.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that while a deeply-personalized experience should be a goal in itself, it’s safe to say that companies should attempt to reach it in small steps. This is a demanding and time-consuming process, and getting it right through small victories is the way to go here.
According to a Blend study, almost 75% of decision-makers in the financial sector are looking to grow their investment in personalization, and nearly a third of them are looking to increase it considerably.
The reason why the organizations behind financial apps should seek to further their interest in personalized is that more “mature” companies that have been invested in ensuring data-driven personalization outperform those that don’t.
This was confirmed by a Forrester study that found that high-maturity banks outperform their low-maturity counterparts by up to 189% in terms of cross-selling, customer acquisition, and a host of other critical parameters.
Ensure an accessible and inclusive experience
Certain accessibility standards are mostly enforced through banking regulations, but instead of just ticking those boxes, try to provide a rich and inclusive experience that will accommodate people with a broad spectrum of conditions and disabilities. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Opt for simple, accessible language
Use inclusive images, illustrations, and branding elements
Use gender-neutral copy
Remove clutter like redundant pages, buttons, and other elements
Ask for essential information only to keep forms short
Include a progress bar when possible
Provide users with an intuitive auto-completion feature
Banking apps are commonly used to pay for things like groceries, restaurant bills, or train tickets. It’s important to provide these features to users in the most effortless way possible.
Many people, myself included, sometimes wonder, “how on Earth did I manage to spend this much money this week/month?”. That’s why it’s vital to have a system in place to help categorize spending, allowing your users to make informed decisions about finances.
No one should be forced to go through their transactions to manually do the math.
Help clients reach their goals
The banking apps help people make sense of the money they have available. On top of being just a resource that allows you to buy things, money is also something people almost always like to have more of. People often set goals for saving up for things like cars, apartments, computer gear, etc.
That’s why you should have a system in place to help people save. One common mechanism for doing that is saving jars, which can round up your balance daily and transfer the surplus to the piggy bank. You could also have hints and saving plans.
Or, you could have a system to help users cut spending by comparing their financial activity to an average month. As a result, this can allow you to create valuable in-app prompts that could, for instance, help them cut their spending on entertainment by 10%, allowing them to buy a car three months faster.
There is a wide array of gamification features you can experiment with—points, levels, leaderboards, badges, progress charts, and many other features that will help make the product experience more engaging.
Transferring funds shouldn’t be a bother
One way or another, users will inevitably be in a situation when they share a bill with someone. Be it something minor like a dinner or a month-long road trip. You need to make sure that this feature is available to them in a swift and effortless manner.
Currently, many users have to use third-party apps like Splitwise, and then go through the trouble of copying the credit card info and sending funds.
There’s definitely potential to make this process easier. If both users use the same app, you could identify the person rather than a credit card and spare the tedious copying of the personal and financial data.
Provide lightning-fast support
One of the most frustrating things in the world is having your banking app not work. Payments are often very time-sensitive events, and preventing people from making transactions can be a problem.
Situations like these happen, and you need to make sure these issues are immediately resolvable through phone calls or live chat.
The bottom line
Digital banking has grown in use dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic—the digital finance landscape has become smarter than ever, nudging many organizations to rethink their design and overall experience.
By incorporating these principles, you’ll be able to help your customers manage their money with ease and confidence.