In one sentence, experience design means optimizing the digital user experience, to make it as relevant and positive for the people who interact with your brand.
This means planning and designing each touchpoint that users encounter with your brand, in any possible environment—everywhere from your website to a social media ad.
Especially for fintechs in today’s digital world, your brand’s user experience is what sets you apart from your competitors—an airtight product on its own doesn’t cut it.
Because users need to feel confident and comfortable with your brand before they can trust in your product/service.
Simply put, experience design can substantially increase user engagement, customer loyalty, and overall business growth. As such, it should be at the forefront of your fintech marketing strategy.
Read on to discover what experience design is, and how you can begin to develop a holistic design strategy for your fintech brand.
Experience Design Defined
Yes, experience design is about how customers interact with your company’s app or website, but it’s also how it leaves them feeling about those interactions—and by extension, your brand.
Think of every click or tap, notification, successful path, social media post, blog article—the list of user touchpoints goes on and on.
Users take note of what goes smoothly and is consistent, but they also clearly remember what gets them confused or frustrated.
Can users navigate swiftly through your website? Is each bit of information easily accessible? How painful is it for them to sign up? What kind of language do you use? Do the visual components help or hinder achieving their goal?
Experience design is the way you plan, implement, and deliver these user touchpoints. The aim, of course, is to make the user experience as clear, reassuring, and authentic as possible, keeping in mind what users like—and what they don’t.
The Importance of Experience Design in Fintech
From a marketing standpoint, experience design is one of the most effective ways to retain customers and foster loyalty.
Fintechs are known for using innovative technology in the most creative ways. But when providing the best digital tools, we can’t overlook the fact that we’re all humans in need of solutions—the more enticing they are, all the better.
Financial or technological concepts can be complex and off-putting for novice (or even seasoned) users. Unfortunately, many fintechs forget how easy it is for users to get confused, or have a frustrating digital experience.
When developing a fintech product or digital experience, planning out a thoughtful, informed UX design strategy—before you start any design work—is often what sets you apart from the competition.
Let’s imagine that a user is considering two different remittance apps. One of them charges 0.1 cent less, but you have to go through five steps to send your money. The other is 0.1 cent more expensive, but it only requires two steps and sends the money instantly.
More often than not, an informed user will pick the second. They will remember your brand as the one that “takes just two steps to send money.”
That’s it: you’ve generated a positive brand perception and loyal customers thanks to a smarter user experience.
As banal as this example might sound, it paints a clear picture of how essential UX design for fintech really is.
So what are the parts that make up a solid experience?
Elements of Experience Design
One of the key, but often overlooked elements, of experience design is empathy.
All you do is for and because of your audience/customers. You must fully understand your audience, their needs and desires, and work to give them the best experience possible.
To achieve this, you must work on a number of components and bring them all together in a single, solid design.
These are the main elements of the experience design puzzle.
1. User Research
User research is how you truly understand the wants, needs, and pain points of your target audience. Only then can you start designing a product/experience for them.
A few popular/effective user research methods include:
- Surveys: gather a lot of general feedback from a number of people—not all of them will be an ideal user.
- Interviews: conduct individual research with existing customers to see where you can improve.
- User testing: evaluate experiences and ask about frustrations in real-life scenarios.
- Research panels: online market research panels can help you quickly reach a new audience—user needs change quickly, so it’s good to think ahead.
Research is beneficial for all of your internal stakeholders, not just the design team. Even if other teams aren’t directly involved, it’s good for them to be aware of the results as it will help to cultivate a cohesive user experience. It’s invaluable to watch someone else use your financial app or website to see how they interpret and interact with it.
2. User Interface (UI)
User interface focuses on the layout of your brand’s application or website. Its appeal, ease of use, and style says a lot about your brand.
The UI will directly influence how people interact with your brand online, across all platforms.
Every asset, from graphics, to font, to buttons, needs to be taken into consideration when creating the ideal experience for your users.
And most importantly, the UI must evoke an emotional connection with the user. They must be convinced that your brand is right for them. This connection will ultimately drive engagement, conversions, and your overall strategic goals.
An excellent starting point for a robust UI is making sure that you follow these 10 usability heuristics for UI design.
3. User Experience (UX)
While experience design comprises the entire journey of a user, the user experience (UX) focuses on each individual interaction.
Working on UX means reducing friction within the user journey, as well as engaging with users in creative ways, brainstorming and implementing the most effective strategies to spark interest and foster loyalty.
Map out and track each touchpoint in your ideal user’s behavior and journey, and then work to ideate better and more comprehensive experiences to serve them.
As there is a lot to say about the role of UX (it really deserves its own post), we recommend checking out this guide from HubSpot.
4. Information Architecture
Information architecture refers to how you organize, structure, and present information to users, ideally in a clear and intuitive manner. It’s part of the bigger picture of app and website design.
You must first define the framework that you’ll build the information upon, and then design a hierarchy to help users easily navigate and find the content that they need within your product or website.
The information must follow a logical structure, and be nested within categories. Users shouldn’t have to make an effort to locate relevant content and understand how information is interconnected.
Think like a user, and go from the first touchpoint to the last. What piece of information do they need at every step in order to perform the next action? The pathway should feel clearly linear and make sense to the user, regardless of where they begin their journey—making it easy to recall and repeat over time.
Steps to Implementing Experience Design in Fintech
Now that you understand what experience design is you need to think about how you can implement all of its components as you build your fintech brand.
1. Identify User Needs
The most important part of creating a compelling user experience design is meeting the needs of your audience. Again, that means understanding who they are, and finding their frustrations, wants, and desires.
Step #1 is to start with user interviews and gather feedback from your current customer base. Ask people what areas of the interface/website are difficult to navigate or what shortcuts should be created. While your internal team will have their opinions and recommendations, the feedback from actual users who are less informed about your product while also motivated by real needs will prove far more informative.
2. Create User Personas
Creating user personas helps you get a good idea of what your ideal user looks like.
Developing your target user persona is based on user research, and can go into varied layers of nuance. At the heart of each user persona are three simple questions:
- Who are they?
- What’s their goal?
- What’s the main barrier to achieving this goal?
Once you know who you’re designing for, you can build it.
3. Design the Journey
With your product/website, users embark on a journey in which you’ll have numerous interactions. The more pleasant, consistent, and accessible each interaction is, the more users will trust you.
Start with mapping out your ideal customer’s journey, considering each interaction you intend for them to have with your products/services/digital touchpoints.
4. Prototype and Test
Through a draft (or mock-up) of the actual product/touchpoint, prototyping simulates the real user experience. It’s the dress rehearsal before the big show, where you can see how your design experience pans out.
This stage is critical because it helps to identify and potential issues and validate your strategy.
And once your strategy is implemented, you can evaluate and refine as necessary through continual testing. Methods for testing include usability testing, A/B testing, and user feedback sessions.
This iterative process empowers design stakeholders to craft more intuitive, user-centered experiences that deliver meaningful value and enhance user engagement.
Trends in Experience Design for Fintech
In a rapidly changing industry like fintech and financial services, experience design requires you to think ahead and be on the lookout for what’s coming.
For example, AI is all the rage, and it’s already being used in many aspects of experience design. In fact, chances are you are relying on some form of AI yourself to get your job done, whatever that may be.
In addition to AI, there are other design trends worth monitoring—below are just a few.
1. Emotional Design
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth reiterating: users want to feel something.
We have a inherent need to feel a positive emotional response, connecting our interactions with a brand to an emotionally charged experience.
Emotional design is the secret to building customer loyalty, and more and more brands are investing in experience design strategy that engenders it.
Give users a sense of achievement, make them curious, get them to smile and laugh.
A positive user experience is functional and reliable. Throw the right emotion in, and the user experience shifts from elevated to memorable. In fact, emotion can often urge users to share their experience, thus growing your brand.
2. Inclusive Design
Inclusivity is more than a trend—it’s an undeniable human need.
Sure, your product needs to be accessible, but in this day and age, accessibility should mean more than just another box to tick. We’re not talking about simply following published guidelines… we are talking about a mindset.
In 2023, inclusivity is a methodology, a way of designing. It’s not something that comes after a strategy has been fully developed; it should be at the core of experience design as a whole.
It’s not only about designing for your audience, but rather it’s making sure that your brand invites in as wide a range of users as possible. Empathize with all users, and empower them to interact with your brand.
3. Voice Activated Interfaces
A recent survey showed that 71% of users prefer to search by speaking into their device, rather than typing.
Technologies are improving at interpreting multiple languages and understanding accents.
Many fintech brands are using voice search as an integral part of their customer service to enhance their UX design.
The minimalist trend continues with other options beyond voice user interface (VUI), such as hand and motion detection.
Design Human Experiences with CSTMR
Users are, first and foremost, humans—humans who think and feel.
And it’s not always rational or what we expected. When working on any product or digital touchpoint, designers must keep this in mind at all times.
A sound experience is logical and linear, and follows the same path of users’ minds. A remarkable user experience is all that, but also connects with users emotionally.
And in fintech especially, users need to feel that they’re engaging with a brand that understands them.
At CSTMR, we craft experiences that tell a story, evoke emotions, and satisfy audiences. We work with financial brands to figure out what kind of experience design their users are after. And then we deliver. Contact us today to learn more, and let’s design the unique experience your audience craves.