There is a long and unresolved debate about the exact definitions of User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI). We won’t wade into that fray. Instead we want to show how we think of UX and UI at Wealthforge.
Every piece of technology that is controlled by a person has a user interface. Our cars have an interface (pedals, steering wheel, keys). Our air conditioners have an interface (thermostat). And of course, fintech software has an interface. It is the back-end code that powers software, but it is the sensory - usually visual, tactile, and/or auditory - interface that allows us to interact with the technology.
Despite the fact that we interact with all kinds a tech throughout the day, we don’t feel the same about all these interactions. We hate using some technology (ie, printers). Other technology experiences are great, and we consider them entertainment—think video games. UX describes how we feel about using a specific piece of technology.
In short, every technology that we interact with has an interface (UI). But not every technology interaction is enjoyable (UX).
So how do we enhance our customers’ experience with their technology? There are three strategies that we have found to be incredibly useful:
This is one technique for understanding how customers use our technology. For example, by analyzing the sequence of clicks on our website, we might discover that a high percentage of visitors navigate to our ‘Pricing’ page. However, (for the sake of this example) the most common path to the pricing page takes six clicks from our home page. That is a long path to our most popular page, and likely results in some frustration as visitors try to find what they are looking for. Having a link straight to pricing from our home page may make for a more pleasurable and streamlined experience for the user.
This is where a UX designer sits with a user - either in person, or remotely - and observes them interacting with our technology. I had the good fortune of being able to be the subject of usability testing. It was an interesting experience because as I was using this new technology, I kept expecting my ‘guide’ to instruct me on what to do. Instead, he forced me to guide him. He didn’t want to teach me how to use the tech, he made me teach him how I wanted to use the tech.
It was a strange experience because we’re used to conforming to objects instead of them conforming to us. Imagine what would happen if you went to test drive a new car. You get into the driver's seat and ask, “Where is the steering wheel?” The salesman responds, “Where would you like it to be?”
Essentially, this is a series of cards with functions on them. Then users are asked to design the flow - the order in which they expect to see the cards. This is a cheap and easy way to understand user flow.
For example, it’s quite common for companies such as ours to want to gather user information as quickly as possible. But most users don’t want to give us their email address right away - and certainly not their credit cards - until they’ve become comfortable with our site and have decided to purchase or enroll in a service. By asking users to design the flow they want with cards, we get better insight into what causes friction and what is more likely to earn their trust.
The word ‘delight’ has become en vogue for describing great user experience. While we certainly want to delight, in financial technology, the development of trust is just as important. The feeling we get from using a technology (UX), is largely influenced by the the actual screen you click on, or buttons you press, (UI). Even if a financial firm has solid technology that performs well and is secure, if the interface is ugly, buggy, or slow it will likely erode the user’s trust in that company. Their experience tells them that the company is not competent, or not customer-focused. Indeed, we’ve all stumbled upon a website that we thought was ‘shady.’ It doesn’t matter if the company was actually shady; what mattered was how we felt.
Consumer banks have gotten pretty good at user experience. As more and more of our activity has moved online, banks realized that their sites - both mobile and desktop - are their brand. Our user experience affects how we view those banks.
However, other more niche parts of financial technology have yet to catch up. The winners in these markets will be those companies that can create stable, scalable, and secure technology that instills trust for its users.
How technology can bring accuracy, security, and speed to alternative investments.