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Doing it badly: worse than not doing it at all?

Tablets. Love them, or hate them, lots of people have them and are using them. And using them to access Internet Banking, to name just one problem area. Because the thing about tablets, is that, well it's a tablet. It's NOT a mobile phone and it isn't a laptop either. You can't just scale up a mobile app, and you can't just point it at a web site.  So when you try to use a web application, let's say Internet Banking (because, for arguments sake, there isn't a mobile app, let alone a tablet app), it all goes a bit wrong.

An obvious example is that fingers used for tapping need bigger targets than mouse pointers used for clicking (a slight change to "Fitts's law" needed perhaps?). Nielsen touched on this a year ago (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, May 10, 2010) and since then people's expectations of web sites / applications on a tablet have grown.

I guess like most folks, I have more than one account with more than one bank - and NONE of the Internet Banking solutions work well on my iPad. Sure, they *work*, but they don't work well. Some, are actually pretty good and even handled orientation. Some are really quite poor -don't even get me started on the Flash content (calm down Apple antagonists, I'm not going to get religious about it!).

Anyway, someone I know recently asked to take a look at a web application that had been ported to the iPad, "with my usability hat on". They wanted an "iPad enabled" version of their product and I immediately got slightly twitchy - the word "port" makes me nervous, because for some reason instead of "to create a new version of (an application program) to run on a different hardware platform" (from in case you were wondering) what I hear is "something crowbarred into something else because we didn't have the time / effort / money to do it properly".

I was right to be nervous. To their credit, the functionality was there, albeit rather slow (but then, it would be - wouldn't it!). Not much else to report that was good. The orientation features varied from ghastly to non-existent, there was no actual use of the device features (no gesture / swipe support at all) and the buttons / links hand't really been changed to be suitable for a tablet device (i.e. my finger). I had to "pinch zoom" a lot just to use the banking features, and the buttons were too close together, meaning that often the wrong one got the "tap". I could go on...

So doing it badly, worse than not doing it at all?

In this case, YES.  The user experience was arguably worse than "just" having Internet Banking working correctly on Safari (as there were still a few issues there!). At least, my expectation would be lots of "pinch zoom" and scrolling, but I'm okay with that as I have to do it on lots of sites. But having something that sort of worked at times, and not at others was actually more frustrating because it wasn't consistent (a big usability no no, and was actually THE major issue that made it worse!).

Oh, and it was only for iPad not for any other tablet....

So, if you want your Internet Banking on a tablet device, then please be kind and do it properly, get someone else to do it properly, or don't do it at all!


Comments: (2)

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon 24 May, 2011, 12:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Fair enough, I liked the 'product review'.  In defence of the port approach, there is a lot to be said for familiarity.  I like to use my mobile to access web sites, and the nicest thing is that I know where things are located on the page.  Yes I have to pinch zoom, but the familiarity means I barely need to be able to read half the page!  And orientation worked OK for me too.

Compared to a dedicated mobile app, where half the options are removed, it looks like another bank let alone page layout.  I've not really tried my iPad, nor an aPad I have - maybe later. 

I would agree the apps seem to be faster though.  There is something about banks and slow web sites.


Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 24 May, 2011, 15:52Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Agreed! A couple of days ago, I'd commented on a Finextra post around social media adoption by banks. While the context was different, the same conclusion applies here: If you can't do it properly, please don't do it at all!

Having said that, my experience suggests that it might be worth investigating how it's done before giving up completely. Not being familiar with HTML coding, I'd used the intuitive design mode of Microsoft Frontpage to develop a few pages of a website. With no conscious effort on my part, these webpages 'ported' perfectly across IE, Chrome and Firefox. Whereas the other webpages developed by HTML specialists using some programming tool had all sorts of incompatibilities across different browsers!