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Three Things to Consider in Mobile Banking Design

by Gavin Lew , 06.05.2010

This article is re-posted from User Centric’s blog.

We have a lot of experience with banks, and we’ve worked on even more mobile devices.  These two come together with mobile banking, and in my mind, there are three major things to consider with regards to design for mobile banking.

First, there must be a perception of security.  There are obvious levels of password security.  But you’ve got to consider that while mobile devices represent access, they’re also something people use during idle time.  This means there will be periods of poor connectivity and distraction – maybe someone’s waiting for a bus or train, or is at work.  What happens to the sense of security if a user loses connectivity or gets distracted?  How does the system gracefully handle those instances?  When someone’s accessing Netflix or playing Tetris, losing connectivity is no big deal.  But with banking, details after losing connectivity are very important.

Second is the importance of designing only what can be accomplished within the screen real estate you have.  The screen space on mobile devices is small; if you put too much into it, the user experience will be overwhelmed.  You need to do the most important things and do them well.  Focus on what a user will need to do on the fly.  If some of these happen to be very important but also very complex, devote the time to make them completely work.

Finally, it’s got to look familiar to the customer.  Even though you’re designing for a small screen, there must be similarities to the web (or whatever your main media connection is).  Whether it is color or labeling, there needs to be elements that make the customer feel they’re in the right place.

One problem?  Most of the time, design is done in-house, and designers/engineers are rewarded on the basis of being on time, on spec, and on budget.  They want to do good work, but their criteria don’t include “It has to be a satisfying user experience” or “It has to improve customer loyalty and retention.”  What we’d like to do is to help with understanding the experience, shaping those behaviors with the interface.  Designers already know how the technology works.  We help them understand the context of how it’s used.