User journey and customer journey are the buzzwords in the IT industry, given the need for redesigning applications for a better user/customer experience. When it comes to selecting or prioritizing software applications for redesigning, from amongst multiple
applications that provide similar critical business functionalities, user experience is often the deciding parameter. Most organizations are trying to redesign user experience and end-customer experience of their existing IT applications. In the last two decades,
many financial institutions have also revamped and reinvented their existing software applications to meet enhanced business processes, but sadly, little attention is given to improve customer or user experience. The software industry was weighed in more on
delivering functional competence than on executing design principles.
Functionality vs. experience
Functionality of applications was the key priority in the early days of this century. However, focus gradually shifted to the user ‘experience’ of applications and how they aid automation and digitization. As part of the development of user interface, now
more emphasis is laid on the number of clicks required, minimal and relevant fields exposure to the user, inbuilt analytics etc.
After the onset of mobile revolution across the globe, the applications which were initially developed to work on computers/web browsers required redesigning to make them compatible with and capable of running on multiple mobile devices. The ease-of-access
and wide usage of mobile devices necessitated innovations in mobile applications. A plethora of mobile applications started popping up to meet almost all the daily needs of consumers, be it ordering food/grocery, making bill payments, booking movie tickets
and so on. These user-friendly applications set the expectations of the end consumers even for the enterprise and complex banking services applications.
Some software institutions started building front-end applications to improve customer/user experience. These can be interfaced with a business application to provide better UI. While they saw initial success, limitations were soon visible either in design
or in the change process.
Need for design expertise
Many IT companies have started hiring design experts to meet the emerging needs of the industry. While it is easy to design smaller consumer applications with limited use cases, it is more challenging to design larger and complex enterprise applications.
In a banking software, there are many areas which need to be considered for ensuring better user and customer experience. Some of them are:
- Business functionality and lifecycle activities
- User Interface or screen design
- Workflows and rules
- Automation, ease of navigation
- Ease of integration with different applications
- Look and feel: colour, themes, font size
- Ease of making changes
- Number of clicks and time to complete tasks
- Security and authentication
Collaboration of domain and design skills
A design expert’s expertise is screen design, but business process and software code development are not his/her prowess. It requires a collaborative effort involving design expert, business user, software developer, technology architect to develop a comprehensive
software with desirable customer experience.
Smaller applications are more flexible and successful as the designer, programmer and subject matter expert is a single person in the initial stage of development. This may not work well for enterprise applications. Redesigning and reimagining existing screens
for multiple business use cases for an enterprise application requires knowledge of the domain, the business life cycle and the underlying software programme. Here, the architects, programmers, business analysts and designers are different so that they can
focus on specific functions. Although if the designer has knowledge of other functions, it is an added advantage.
Concepts for an ideal design
Redesigning a screen is not just optimal alignment of fields, but it should have a logical workflow and navigation to serve business functionalities. When business requirements are complex, designing of screens might take more time than writing the line
of code. It is preferable to design new screens rather than reworking on the existing screens.
Furthermore, different screens may appeal to different customer segments. The choice depends on the processes/practices followed in different geographies and banking functions. Prototyping design to suit a specific market or process may not be ideal but
a design which delights a larger audience has higher chances of success. Many software companies are decoupling the business functionality from the user interface layer.
User interface or customer experience is a journey that evolves and matures with the evolution of the software. It is rather difficult to achieve 100% design-perfect software with all business needs and workflows embedded, and which also lends itself to
digitization and automation. It is ideal to develop a technology software in the cloud which can be used to build a user interface/experience layer on top of any business application or any IT platforms. A business user should be able to download it and build
the UI with simple configuration. An AI tool to test the UI layer based on multiple parameters can help achieve uniformity. Embedded analytics/AI built within a software can suggest alternative designs at the software development stage.