When Designing Banking Apps, Users Come First

      Posted by Marc Navarro on Feb 6, 2020 in Thought Leadership

      Putting the customer at the center is essential when designing a new money management application. Strander Stefi Gual breaks down how we do it.

      Over the past few months, we have designed and implemented a brand-new user interface (UI) for our mobile applications. Strands’ Product Manager of Digital Channels Stefi Gual reveals the reason behind this milestone: “With the FinTech world changing so fast, providing a smooth and fulfilling experience to users is at the top of the list of the key differentiators within the industry—together with leveraging AI and implementing an open banking strategy.”

      Although digitization is not just about delivering cutting-edge user experience (UX), Stefi notes that it’s increasingly clear that customer satisfaction depends on the experience users receive across all channels. “That’s why a slick UX is the ultimate engagement driver, the icing on the cake,” she remarks, adding that “at the end of the day, every added-value service that a company can build will end up reaching users through a channel and experience.”

      Coming up next, Stefi recaps the main criteria that we follow here at Strands when it comes to banking apps design


      4 Design Principles Every Banking App Developer Should Follow

      by Stefi Gual

      • Understanding our end-users’ needs

      Instead of approaching so-called user personas, at Strands we focus on specific situations, which can be applied to different profiles. Real situations guide us to real needs, and these needs lead to functional solutions or what we call “jobs to be done.”

      After thoroughly screening real users, we understood that many solutions in the market still underserve tasks such as managing living costs—i.e., recurring bills and usual expenses. Getting a clear view of their financial leveland maintaining it month by monthis still the top priority for most people: families with kids, young workers, and even retired people. 

      Additionally, we found that the second-highest priority for users is financial wellbeing. They aim to build a safety net in case anything happens, as well as to have enough financial freedom and avoid relying on others. This is a common need among young workers, either because they hold student debt or simply because they don’t earn enough money to save and start building this buffer.


      • Identifying core features and designing a clear path to use them

      Once we have a baseline with jobs to be done, it’s the right time to ask ourselves how to approach them. For instance, and coming back to our users’ biggest need (as mentioned above), day to day money management core is covered by 3 main capabilities:

      • Allowing users to understand when future income and payments will be charged in their accounts by providing pattern detection capabilities.
      • Guiding them through their average monthly expenses and set up budgets, if needed.
      • Based on the knowledge of average real expenses and near-future predictions, letting users know the exact amount of money that can be spent before falling in overdraft, thanks to the “ok-to-spend” KPI.

      As for achieving financial wellbeing, the first step to reach financial freedom is to control and cover common expenses without problems. Once that level is reached, we can guide users to follow specific money management rules, such as 50/30/20 rule, where monthly alerts are triggered to recommend keeping aside 20% of their monthly income. Regardless of the amount, users can put money aside and link it to a buffer goal, or even to a specific account with a higher interest rate. 


      • Defining the values that we want to embody and designing a UI which matches them

      For example, these are the core values that Strands’ product and design teams aim to instill in every app:

        • Simplicity
        • Intuitiveness
        • “Customer comes first”
        • Our reason to be: Becoming a daily problems solver


      Insights UX Design Strands


      • Identifying hard workflows, and spend time ensuring they are as simple as possible

      Although all designs are thought to be clean and straightforward, there are paths that are not as intuitive as we had hoped. Therefore, it is essential to identify difficult workflows within the app and optimize them as soon as possible. 

      For example, we encountered a problem in the path to control recurring bills. This is definitely one of our most critical paths, or at least it used to be. After a thorough review, we ended up understanding how the workflow should look like. First, patterns had to be detected automatically and then approved by users. This way, it was possible to guide users and help them better understand when payments were scheduled. A centralized place was also needed in order to display both real and predicted income and expenses: the financial calendar. And last but not least, automatic notifications had to be triggered whenever the account balance wasn’t enough to face upcoming payments. That was and still is the simplest and most effective flow.


      The preceding principles are applicable to any customer segment that we want to reach. However, even when we reach an MVP level, we need to keep interacting with users and continuously evaluate if we are effectively covering their needs and reaching our goals.

      In parallel to that, the process of taking a product from concept to reality needs a clear design and development strategy. Here are some of the core elements of our product management strategy:

        • Build a design system to re-use and share components 
        • Evaluate time and cost in development 
        • Quantify the value of each functionality 
        • Keep the iterative process with users up

      Did you enjoy the read? Do you work in financial services and want to find out how Strands can help your bank through UX design? If the answer to both questions is "yes", please fill out this form and one of our Sales Reps will get back to you as soon as possible.



      Marc Navarro
      Marc Navarro

      As Strands’ Communications Manager, Marc puts his writing and language skills to use by crafting newsworthy and educational content on FinTech. Marc also serves as Strands’ media liaison and is always on the lookout for potential press opportunities and new stories to tell.

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