User interface (UI) design. Most of us have heard of it, and at some point, we have all interacted with it. But what is it? The Interaction Design Foundation defines it as “the process of making interfaces in software or computerized devices with a focus on looks or style.” Simply put, it’s the graphical representation of the webpages and apps that we interact with every day. So why is it important? More specifically, why is clean UI important?
The Importance of Clean UI
UI determines how we interact with a website or a mobile app, so having a clean user interface has many benefits and can ultimately have a huge impact on customer satisfaction. If a page has a clean layout and it’s easy to interact with, then your experience on that page is going to be a positive one. But why is it important for banks in particular?
Banking and UI
I think it’s fair to say that banks don’t have the best reputation when it comes to UI. However, it’s also fair to say that there has been vast improvement by many of these companies—and the industry as a whole.
Let’s use Chase as an example: As a customer, I have seen a vast improvement of Chase’s UI over the last five years. And although the website has been a part of these improvements, the biggest strides have been made with their ATM machines. Now when I use their ATMs, I’m greeted by friendly beeps to indicate when to insert my card or pull out cash (this is also a factor of well-thought-out UX). Iconography has been applied to the final steps of a transaction so you know what the machine is doing at each specific point of the transaction, and gone are the 90’s bevelled buttons, replaced by a more modern, sharp, flat look.
Why is any of this important?
It’s Aesthetically Pleasing
We have all been on those outdated and non-intuitive websites (and ATMs). You know, the ones that make you sit back in your chair and take a bigger gulp of your morning coffee or instantly want to drive off and never return. Not fun, right? Then there’s the age-old notion that first impressions are the most important and are made within the first few seconds of meeting. This also applies to UI.
A large part of UI is the role of aesthetics and how everything looks on the page. Even if we set functionality aside for a moment, a user is going to have a better experience if the UI is clean, modern, and well designed. This includes things like hierarchy, font styles (and sizes), colors, and making sure that if there is supposed to be a bold headline or an actionable CTA/button, it is clearly recognizable. Make it easy for your user to accomplish what they came to do.
If you want to read more about how colors influence User Engagement, check out this blog post.
This mainly applies to websites, but can also factor in to your mobile banking app. Many aspects of banking center around process, and what is process without structure? An inevitable disaster waiting to happen!
Take ATMs for example. The UI is structured to guide you through the process of a transaction, from inserting your card to getting it back again a few minutes later. UI will make sure you read the right information, you hit the right buttons in the right order, and that all of this guidance is done on brand, giving you, the customer, a positive experience.
UI Can Be the Difference Between a Correct Action and an Incorrect Action
UI plays a very important role in ensuring the correct information is displayed to us as we interact with a website or mobile app. This is important in the banking industry because it’s usually dealing with transactions and money.
Take a money transfer for example. On most banking apps, there’s a step-by-step process when making a transfer. It usually starts with tapping an action item like a transfer button (that usually has an icon). Then you are guided to the next screen where you enter an amount which is displayed in a large font. You select an account and hit the large transfer button. At each step, the UI is designed to give you a sense of control and security, so you know what step you are at, how much you are transferring, and have a clear submit action at the end.
UI Can Be the Difference Between You and the Competition
UI can be a huge differentiator when it comes to winning customers and fending off the competition. I moved from one bank to another purely driven by the fact that the UI on the website and ATM of the bank I left was drastically subpar. This may seem like a small reason to switch banks, but to me, it was important. One bank had taken the care to improve their look and my experience using their software, while the other didn’t seem to care.
You want your customers to feel like they are using something new, clean, and well thought out. They want to use a website or software that has important information, clear and structured, while also giving them a sense of feeling a part of your brand. Clean UI also creates trust between the application and the user. Without that trust, the user will simply move on and find something that they can trust. The same can be said for banking.
While UI continues to evolve, it’s important for all companies in all industries to keep up with this dynamic aspect of the functionality of their brand and how their customers interact with it. After all, clean UI can be the difference between a satisfied customer and one that’s taking their business to the nearest competitor.