Mark Lusted, Dock9: It’s time financial services started seriously thinking about their websites' UX

Mark Lusted, Dock9: It’s time financial services started seriously thinking about their websites’ UX

2016 has been a big year for user experience (UX). The web, as a whole, became easier to use, apps became more intuitive, and services became a lot more engaging and purposeful. But could the same be said for financial services?

We have seen and had conversations suggesting the world of financial services is starting to make some progress and 2017 is shaping up to show great promise.

Conversational UX

Chatbots, virtual assistants, and invisible apps are quickly evolving trends towards having a more personable interface. Having a business which handles a lot of questions and queries on a day-to-day basis will benefit from conversational UX as providing and building a customer service that never sleeps is more important than ever.

Gartner predicted that by 2018, 30% of our interactions with technology will be through “conversations” with smart machines.

Although conversational UX is still in its infancy, the technology is here. And the implementation does not require a significant overhaul of existing systems. Conversational UX will open up new possibilities of how companies can interact with their users.

Liberty Mutual Insurance announced during 2016 that they had built an integration which would allow users to instantly get a quote – from voice-controlled access – using Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon’s Echo. Other insurance players, like Aviva, are also capitalising on the latest Alexa craze. Banking software vendor Symitar integrated its Episys core system with Amazon Echo, with Baxter Credit Union as an early taker.

Customer-led experiences

While designing customer-led experiences is fairly normal across most sectors, the financial services sector is only just starting to realise the potential value of embedding a user-centred design process. Not just when designing the end-user experience, but also when thinking about the initial product and service they are offering.

For years, a lot of financial organisations have ignored the topic of UX. They’ve dominated sectors by the power of their brand alone. But the recent rise of fintech startups, delivering products and experiences based on what customers actually want, has acted as a wakeup call for businesses to start designing their experiences around the user in order to compete against the newer entrants.

UX designers have had the battle of trying to design things users want, not what organisations want them to use. But the value of this approach is starting to show and we expect to see more evidence of experiences being designed by the end users going forward.

Failure mapping

Sound familiar? It will do by the end of 2017.

Customer journey mapping is a common exercise by both UX designers and also organisations. User flows are designed, and these are a map of all users’ touch points throughout their experience with a product or service. They are designed to demonstrate the “happy” path to conversion. But what about the people who fall outside of this?

2017 will likely see the rise of more failure mapping. This is the process of solely looking at any possible pain points or failures during a customer journey. Historical data will be applied to highlight how these failures are occurring, instead of just focussing on goal conversion. This information is then used to redesign your experience so that these failures are prevented from occurring again, where possible.

In essence, it’s about finding out what doesn’t work, so that you can find out what does work. Failure mapping would mean the financial services industry can start thinking much more strategically about their website’s UX.

Increased adoption of prototyping tools

Rapid prototyping tools are definitely one of the most useful breakthroughs to hit the web design world over the last couple of years. It’s still relatively new to the world of financial services, the shift away from flat Photoshop designs and thick requirements documents are very much work in progress.

Rapid prototyping tools from services such as Axure, InVision and Marvel all allow UX designers to quickly create interactive low and high fidelity prototypes of sites, apps and services to gauge their usability and aesthetic, all without writing a single line of code.

Leveraging these kinds of tools allows for an instant experience of how the finished product would look and work, savings hour of resource and money.

Gone are the days of showing clients and stakeholders flat Photoshop designs, explaining in great detail every subtle animation and transition. Clients and stakeholders get to see exactly how it works and looks, without any long, complicated conversations about user experience.

With rapid prototyping set to become more commonly used in 2017, it’s time financial services started seriously thinking about their websites’ UX. Consider questions such as: What areas could be improved? How long does the user stay on the site? And in what ways can they differentiate themselves from competitors in an increasingly competitive market?

By Mark Lusted, managing director, Dock9