Why user experience is so important in the financial world

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The digital revolution has brought about fundamental changes in our personal and professional lives, ones that would make today’s world look like something from another planet to anyone visiting from just 40 or 50 years ago. The finance and investment sector is certainly no different, and as the online world continues to overtake the physical one as the place to do business and conduct transactions, the topic of user experience (UX) is one that is likely to take center stage in 2018.
Here, we take a look at what it is, why it is important, and what businesses can do to optimize it and keep a step ahead of the competition.
What is UX?
UX can be considered the online version of the customer service experience. It encompasses every aspect of a company’s online presence from the perspective of the end user. It is this viewpoint that is really fundamental to understanding and improving UX.
Looked at from that definition, you can see that UX touches on a whole host of seemingly diverse topics, such as how long your page takes to load, whether it is mobile-friendly, the quality of the content, ease of navigation, clarity of calls to action, and a whole host more.
UX in the finance and investment sphere
Like practically every other industry, the finance world has become increasingly crowded over the past decade. This applies to traditional banks, payment providers, and investment banks. While aspects such as commissions and interest rates are, of course, important, these are typically going to be much of a muchness, and the differentiating factor often comes down to UX.
The provider that can deliver the most user-friendly experience for consumers will stand at a significant advantage. What areas of UX can financial institutions focus on?
Online transactions are supposed to be quick, easy, and flexible. In the investment world, one of the most important areas of UX is to be able to complete a transaction on the go, any time and from any place. Mobile apps go a long way to facilitating this, but you would be surprised how many financial transactions allow you to complete 90 percent of the process smoothly online, and then require you to print off reams of paper to physically sign them.
It seems antiquated, and thankfully, solutions are becoming common that allow us to skip this archaic step. This is an area that entrepreneur Keith Krach knows plenty about – he founded DocuSign, one of the pioneers of going truly paper-free with electronic signature software that has the convenience of the digital age while retaining the security features of a physical signature.
The importance of being mobile-friendly cannot be overemphasized. Earlier this year, mobile overtook desktop as the browser of choice for surfing the web. Yet still people have a tendency to see a mobile app as a useful add-on, when in reality it should form the basis of their online presence. Increasingly, users are ignoring desktop entirely, and “mobile first” is starting to become “mobile only.” Expect this trend to become even more pronounced over the coming year.
KISS principle
The KISS principle is important throughout web design, but particularly so in areas such as finance and investment, where users of varying knowledge and experience are attempting to conduct transactions in an environment that can be complex.
It is essential to work to the lowest common denominator and make the app accessible to those who have little financial knowledge and are potentially less confident dealing with an online platform, without overly dumbing down the entire system.
All it takes is a carefully crafted and uncluttered user interface with clear calls to action. More complexity or detail can be easily embedded in subpages that can be simply clicked through by those who need them.
Automated support
A key advantage of online transactions is that there is no need to physically visit an office or waste time on the telephone. However, from time to time, everyone needs some sort of personal support. Instant chat is great but can lead to frustration if customers spend as long waiting for online support as they do holding on the telephone.
Chatbots are a perfect solution, and with advances in machine learning, they are becoming increasingly useful for answering customer questions and solving problems. Their continued development is likely to be one of the major trends over the coming year.
UX means satisfied customers
In a world where more providers are offering similar financial services, the method of delivery and the interface between customer and provider are the primary areas where there is competitive advantage to be gained. Expect UX to take central stage in financial and investment strategy over the course of 2018 and beyond.

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