- Methodologies •
The financial services industry has traditionally been one of the most technology-intensive industries. But the speed of technology change, and the business developments this has fostered, has left many companies even in financial services floundering and struggling in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.
Whether you are a bank, an insurance provider, a credit card company, or payment provider, technology is driving fundamental change in your sector. Hedge funds for example are now poaching technologists from Silicon Valley. As one financial headhunter recently stated, “traders used to be first-class citizens of the financial world, but that’s not true any more. Technologists are the priority now”. Financial companies now focus on hiring individuals with the technical and computer science skills that will enable them to create the algorithms that underlie an increasingly complex environment.
In the past few years we have seen the emergence of what has become known as “Fintech”, or financial technology companies. Fintech start-ups, as well as a few incumbents financial providers, are today characterized by an agile, data-driven analytics approach to financial services. Companies include those such as StreetShare, which offers peer-to-peer lending for small businesses, or TradeRiver which provides an online platform for cross-border financial transactions. Underpinning much of the success of fintech companies is a renewed focus on the user and customer experience.
New players such as Square and Lending Club have a very different approach to technology and creating compelling user experiences, than their traditional banking competition.
Customers are engaging with financial service providers in different ways than even just a few years ago. For example according to recent data, 40% of U.S. consumers will move to another provider if a bank’s site is not mobile-optimized. Fintech firms recognize that the interaction point with their customers occurs via their software or application. As a result they have invested heavily in the user experience of that software, so that it is user friendly, intuitive, and even in some cases, fun and addictive to use.
So how can financial service providers create the software necessary to create powerful digital user experiences for their demanding customer base? To answer this we need to look at how successful organizations use a UX process – or what we refer to as the “five planes of UX design”.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach for UX design, but there are a few best practices that projects can benefit from, regardless of methodology. These 5 steps go from abstract to concrete and each of them has special tasks, helping fintech firms develop a workable UX centered application from the ground up.
The first step is strategy. Typically this will start with brainstorming sessions where the software development team and other key stakeholders will go over the feature set of an application, the general look, and other important considerations. The UX design comes in during this strategy session, so it’s incorporated right from the beginning.
Here are a few questions software developers ask themselves when sketching a
The next step after strategy is establishing the scope of the development. In a perfect world, software developers could add every single idea that comes up at the beginning of a project. In reality, maybe 10% of these ideas are incorporated.
Determining the scope of the project takes the strategy session and translates it into concrete requirements for a piece of software. A few ways of handling scope creation include:
The third step gets down to the nitty gritty of development. This is the step where development ideas move from intangible data points to actual areas of the application.
Some questions to ask during this step of the development process include:
Two ways to visually answer these questions includes a site map to figure out how every part of the application groups together, while user flow diagrams shows how they move throughout the site or app.
It’s time to make a design blueprint in this fourth step. Typically, software developer utilize wireframes to move from structure building to the look of the entire application.
They are basic drawings or renderings that simply have to display how the application looks, what form the navigation takes, the general layout of the software, all of the elements involved in the application, and where these elements go.
The wireframe is not complicated visually. It’s a simple representation of what the major elements look like, before flashy graphics and logos get added to the picture.
Here are some essential questions to answer while developing a wireframe:
The last step of the process is to bring the entire process together with a unified visual design that makes it attractive to consumers. A good visual design should also work together with the rest of the development process to help augment the features, function, and form of the software.
Some elements that are added during this step of the process include:
A UX centric design ensures the development of user friendly software. In the past many companies have focused on developing the technology, and lost focus on their customer. The rise of successful fintech firms demonstrate the importance of maintaining a laser-focus on the needs and experiences of users and customers. This report demonstrates the importance of incorporating UX planning into each step of the development process to ensure you will meet your user ’s expectations, and hopefully surpass them.