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Driving Toward Innovation in Digital Banking User Experience

Driving Toward Innovation in Digital Banking User Experience

The need for delivering on a user experience strategy necessitates the use of common and sometimes confusing lingo like CX, UX, information architecture, UX design and UI design. It introduces ways to gain deeper understanding of customers through methods like personas, journey mapping and Kano analysis. It commands phrases like customer-centric, experience-driven, and ideation/visioning. In the past 4 months, I have interviewed more than half a dozen agencies to engage one that could go beyond the buzzwords and the methods described above. I want to be convinced that great and meaningful changes can happen to UI’s. After all, talk is cheap.

The Science of UI
Our goal is simple for our UI Transformation project. We want the 3 “E’s” - allow business users to do their job effectively and efficiently, while being happily engaged. ‘UI Transformation’ is only 2 words, yet they pack a wallop when trying to verbalize to agencies what you mean. After all, UI can be viewed as science or art.  The trend is to make it more science. The science delves deep into everything about your customer, including their demographics, pain points and use cases. It’s fascinating intelligence. It can take a lot of time.  Can it help drive innovation? This is where the line in the sand gets drawn between art and science.

The Art of UI
Henry Ford is attributed to the axiom “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This statement imparts the notion that true innovators ignore conventional wisdom. For software, think Steve Jobs. This is where delivering a stellar user experience becomes an art. It’s not design by committee.  Here there is a leader who has the wherewithal to make changes through an innate sense of what is right and wrong.  Someone who is not afraid to question history by looking at history through a different lens and then turning that on its head. The end result is not only giving the user what he wants, but what he needs. For Ford, the user knew what they wanted but not what they needed.

Striking a Balance
A great user experience should be the balance between the science of understanding the customer with the creativity of thought and presentation via art that can invigorate users and go beyond just delivering wants. You can liken it to the Bauhaus movement, which sought to bring back soulfulness to manufacturing. The efforts of this movement rejuvenated design into everyday life, delivering their ‘form follows function’ philosophy that has influenced everything from art, gadgets, and furniture to architectural designs.

This is what a UI transformation should be. It’s the marrying of science with art while keeping in mind the customer you are trying to delight. Not a new concept, but one where I see the industry losing sight on how to achieve results by not taking the user experience beyond the science stage. Maybe Buckminster Fuller, another visionary who invented the geodesic dome, had it right when he called himself a “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist.” He sought the potential of innovation in design to do "more with less" and thereby improves our lives. He worked at the perfect marriage of art and science. It’s where the industry is started to head.

A Step in the Right Direction
A few financial institutions are starting to get more ingrained with design agencies to drive innovation in their UI. They are realizing that pure science is only half of the equation. Driving home the importance of blending science and art is a very small trend for the larger FI’s to bring agencies into their fold via an acquisition.  Your next step should be to take a hard look at your digital user experience. Where do you fall on the innovation spectrum? How are you getting there?

Look for more posts as we take our Universal Online Banker solution to the next level of transforming our customers’ digital banking UI experiences.