For an unsolicited project as part of the General Assembly UX Design Immersive program, the challenge was to take a credit union’s admittedly dated website and mobile app and redesign one, or both, to give them more functionality and ease of use for customers.
Signal Financial Federal Credit Union is a 25,000-plus strong institution serving D.C. and Maryland. The bank’s website has a lot of information to convey to customers. And, the current homepage attempts to link to all of those vast resources from one location.
It’s a lot to ask of visitors to the site to dig through deep menu trees to find information. As a result, it’s possible many options available to members such as group legal services, financial planning and others might toil in obscurity.
The mobile app, on the other hand, is bare bones and offers the basic options of bill paying and fund transfers and account balances. It’s not terribly intuitive or user-friendly, and probably not something most customers would choose if given an option.
A redesigned mobile app, which would include a focus on the customer’s account balance and give them the ability to budget and track expenses monthly. Plus, the design includes a reward program that would help customers engage with local businesses. The design is meant to touch on feedback from bank app users who said they primarily open up the app to see how much money they have.
The reward program was an idea to play on the credit union’s primary strength, a local presence. Signal Financial started as a credit union for utility workers and is now open to people in a defined geographic area. The reward plan would not only allow the credit union to reach out to local businesses, and maybe pick up commercial banking customers, but also drive home that they are a long-standing local institution with strong ties to the community.
The team working on the Signal Financial project’s (part of the UXDI class at General Assembly DC, and not affiliated with Signal Financial) main constraint was that of time and scope. The website is in dire need of an overhaul and was a tempting target to focus on, at first. But, the site is also large and complex and a complete redesign would be unlikely in a few week’s time.
Addressing the constraints
The team decided the best way to provide immediate value to the credit union and its customers was to focus on retooling the mobile app. And, after multiple iterations and continued user testing we continued to whittle down the original design into something more user-friendly. We settled on a design that did away with the graph, the circular navigation buttons and clearly pointing out that customers could set spending goals on expenses, which would be tracked for them.
The team started off with an online survey and a series of interviews to gauge how people interacted with their banks, online and in-person. The survey results showed that most people go online, or on their phone, to quickly see how much money they have in their account. We also did a content audit of the credit union’s website to look for ways to condense, eliminate or better group the site’s content.
We then started turning out paper prototypes to get in front of potential users to work through ideas for the app including a way to monitor savings in a competitive atmosphere and determining interest in a reward program.
The team then moved to more high-fidelity prototypes that worked through an almost reverse process. The initial prototypes included an emphasis on color, branding and icon design for navigation.
Among our earlier iterations was a design that tried circular navigation buttons with icons and some color cues to show savings goals achievements. A circle graph also showed progress toward spending goals. Testing came back negative on most aspects of the design and we decided to scrap the circles, icons and graphs.
With time running out, the decision was made to scale back the aesthetics and focus instead more on working through potential features. The final, clickable prototype was stripped of color but was still able to convey the key features – access to account balances, money transferring, budgeting and the reward program.
- One key finding from the interviews and the survey was the importance of the mobile app.
- Focusing on color and aesthetics early in the prototyping phase ate up valuable time that would have been better spent on further testing and iterations.
- The design was fairly conservative in its offerings, and a post-project debrief revealed that it would have been better to look outside of the banking industry for inspiration to try new approaches to make the app more novel.
- The team also concluded that the final design would have benefitted from a more critical review of each other’s work along the way. Or, to put it another way, the feeling was we maybe went too easy on each other at the expense of the project.
- User testing
- Prototyping – Axure, Marvel, Sketch, Paper
- Content audit
- Competitive analysis