Weaving UX into Finance: Three Influencers Discuss UX Optimizations

Lorraine Ryshin

February 21, 2019 | 6 min read

Money management and personal finance are topics we always contend with, whether we’d like to or not. As such, ways of handling money are constantly firing up our neurons, whether it’s subconsciously or otherwise.

Like many other everyday operations, money management has transitioned into the digital space — mobile wallet platforms, digital money transfer services and, of course, online banking are all part of daily life.

Managing money online can take many forms: from banking/loan websites and budget planners to blogs centered on money management. But if people are going to manage their money online, then how critical is the digital experience?

The short answer is that UX always matters, and these sites are no exception; the longer deals with UX on a general, psychological magnitude. UX is often the predictor of whether a user returns to a site, and many consumers today associate a brand with the level of experience it provides.

So in the touchy subject of personal finance, websites are even more hard-pressed to provide the optimal user experience. UX in finance is connected to the idea that by using a particular website, visitors will somehow improve their financial standing, at least by way of managing their money. Additionally, they’ll dispense with the hassle of visiting a branch or having a long phone conversation with a customer service agent.

We’ve interviewed three finance bloggers who’ve shared how finance companies can improve their UX.

The Need for Trust, Transparency & Validation in the UX 

Sites that offer financial services like banks, credit unions and other money management entities fall victim to UX failures many a time, especially when trust, transparency and security are concerned.

Kyle from Millionaire Mob sounded off on several of these failures. Millionaire Mob is an early retirement and investing blog aimed at helping readers achieve financial freedom. The blog focuses on dividend growth investing, passive income and travel hacking.

He cited a lack of structure and trust validation as two of the UX failures that would turn him away from a banking or money management site. “Whenever I think about my money, I want to know that it will be in a secure, safe place,” he said. “Any money management website should spell that out to consumers immediately.”

Structure and trust intertwine at banking/money management sites, so it’s key to highlight guarantees of site safety and the encryption of sensitive information.

Financial and money management sites often implement SSL certificates, which encrypt user data to protect it. While it is unheard of for such sites to forgo these certificates, they may not always highlight the SSL seals in a readily perceptible way.

For smaller institutions and financial platforms, the homepage should call attention to the safety and security of their website, such as in the sliders. If your website does not include sliders, you should opt to mention your SSL certificate or safety in the above section.

Once you have your safety/security features clearly on display, it is productive to remove other hurdles, which other finance bloggers have taken notice of.  

Executing Seamless & Intuitive Digital Journeys

Digital journeys should include seamlessly gliding from page to page and center on site navigation so that users can easily find what they’re searching for in general.

A user should not have to jump through hoops to find relevant information. For example, the interface should clearly and easily lead a visitor to their account number(s). Additionally, it should not be strenuous to perform a financial act, such as transferring money or editing a budget.

The more hurdles these actions present, the worse off the UX becomes and thus, the more users will become aggravated and inclined to bounce/exit. Our analysis of 52 million retail user sessions in 2018 found that the more pages visitors consumed, the less likely they were to bounce.

A quality UX will thus propel a website towards success. A poor UX, on the other hand, is not only bad for conversions, but it will sully the trust users have in a site.

Janet Su, a former finance analyst-turned-blogger runs My Twenty Cents, a personal finance blog where Janet gives advice to prevent from going broke, often tying it in with her travels. Her biggest qualm with shoddy UX in financial sites is a poorly set up navigation.

“If the navigation is not intuitive, I will likely close the window. I don’t want to spend hours trying to find what I’m looking for,” said Janet. “Also, sites that take forever to load or that are not aesthetically pleasing tend to turn me away as well.”

Speaking to setting up UX for intuitive navigation, Kyle noted that a website “should have simple icons and should be very easy to use. I love modern dashboards that provide me recommendations and charts that allow me to analyze the data in a variety of ways.”

Janet ties the idea of simplicity to easy navigability, which in turn, creates findability. An example of this, according to Janet is “a dashboard that shows me everything that I’m looking for in one click. I hate having to click through menus just to search for what I’m looking for.”

When it comes to her own blog, Janet was inspired by the minimalist approach often associated with the design of institutional and money management websites.

I always try to ask myself, “What would my audience want?”

User-Friendliness and Personalization on Institutional Websites

Financial institutional websites should be built with simplicity taking center stage, as it is key for user-friendliness. Kyle pointed out his favorite content element: personalization, especially advice tailored specifically to his financial situation.

Financial institutions and money management sites can adopt this into their UX in a number of ways. Emails and notifications are usually the go-to for most websites when they have something new to share with their users. While these may drive users to these personalized elements, it is important that they live on the site as well. This too can be placed front and center on the homepage, in the upper areas, or in a slider.

Or, if you want to truly hone in on personalization, the customized advice can be made available through a user’s own account page or dashboard.

Lauren Bowling, a personal finance blogger that offers money guides at FinancialBestLife.com commented on what she believes is a must-have in UX, especially where user-friendliness is concerned.

“Clarity is key,” she said. “Even down to the terms of service, which I think go a long way to reinforcing trust.”

To Lauren, clarity in the UX can be manifested by placing key site elements together, so the user does not have to search for them. She cites Capital One as a prime example of this quality. “Some places put their customer service numbers or account closing information in an awful or hard-to-find place,” said Lauren. “Businesses that really think through making it easy to find information are my favorite.”

Furthermore, an old-looking design or a website that is difficult to navigate deters her customer journey, ultimately leading her to exit the website. She believes that the aesthetic qualities of the UX are tantamount, especially in finance sites, as money is a dry subject, but it can be made compelling through strategic visuals.

Capitalizing on the Best In-App UX Experience

With mobile-first turning many users towards apps, the digital experience on them matters every bit as much as that of the UX on tablet and desktop. As far as banking apps are concerned, Kyle suggested that they ought to be less clunky than they currently are. He believes that the user only cares about a few things, which he laid out in inquiries:

  1. How can I pay my bills?
  2. What are my accounts?
  3. Where can I reach someone?

When the UX provides solutions to these answers, little else is required on the site.

“I learned that it’s important to get your message across early and often. Be clear in your vision and who you are. Don’t confuse the consumer about extra details,” he shared. “The future generations love simplicity and modern identity.”

Lauren conceded to the mobile-first digital setting, stating that banking apps have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time, UX-wise. However, mobile experiences are becoming “too slick,” and the desktop experience suffers. Despite this lurking lack, Lauren enjoys using both desktop and mobile apps for her banking needs.

Our recent findings in our 2019 benchmark study for the finance sector, showed that this vertical has the lowest mobile traffic at 32.88%. Banking experiences on mobile clearly have room for improvement.

Closing Off

In the context of wealth management, an “optimal” UX, as in other verticals, cannot be attributed to a single facet, be it a site element or site copy. But when taking a variety of UX issues into account, money management sites too can forge digital happiness within their users. There’s also no need for the subject of money to remain stale and tedious, even on an institutional website.