Sunday, December 2, 2007

Designing Banking Application

Internet banking in India as well globally is gaining faster acceptance. An estimated 4.6 million users transfer funds online and this number (includes mobile banking figures), according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, is expected to increase to 16 million by 2007-08.

There are some basic principles while designing a banking website or an internet banking application (though there are few more rules when it comes to designing an ‘online banking’ application). I have listed some of my learnings below, (which I had while I was working on a banking website for a reputed multinational bank in India, as well as its internet banking application interface also).

Following are some basic rules / principles which you should understand & put into practice while designing websites specially for banking domain.

  • Know everything possible about ‘end-user’:
    Before you start on anything, you should know about the end user; all the demographics like who? Why they are here? What they want to do with this website. All this information will help you to structure your website / application in accordance to it, in terms of information design, content structuring, content prioritization, visual design & much more; which will lead to a usable website for the target users, being a site based & focused to their needs.

  • Good ‘aesthetic’ design:
    Designing a banking website is slightly a difficult task, as you have to balance the website design from being too much corporate as well as being too loud or casual.Users coming here are not looking for ‘fun’ stuff but want to perform a specific task & has not time to go through lot of content or don’t want to loose himself in the design itself. So, the banking website design has to be very balanced & powerful enough to do the bank’s branding as well.

  • Content Relativity:
    Users come to banking websites to get some ‘specific’ information or to do some ‘transaction’. Unfortunately, many banks assumes their websites as a sales & promotion way, in which, they load up their websites with such not-crucial content. Most importantly, as banking users likes facts about the banks such as interest rates, service charges, etc., that content should get a highlight on the homepage also. Also, content related to quick access, bank tools, support information should get prominence.

  • Easy to use:
    Banking sites are supposed to be “easy to access” because end-users coming to such sites are there with specific intentions & may not have much time to spend. Don’t make a user learn your website. Make it easy & lucid enough that all the critical components & facts related to showed upfront & are easily accessible.

    For example, you can use a ‘quick access menu’ so that he can access all the core sections of the website at a single click & is available on every page. Also, usage of “breadcrumbs” & consistent navigation zone as well as “login” space will make it easy for the site user, along with ‘links which are easy to understand being underlined’.

  • Most important thing – Security:
    Online banking users are ‘very’ conscious about the “security”. They need to feel secure while using a banking website, by making the user ‘feel secure’ by placing ‘security information, alerts about the encrypted sections, and fraudulent e-mails about banks, etc. Information such as “128 bit SSL security” & such information should be visible clearly making a user relax about the transaction security as well as while submitting any kind information over the internet.

    For example, while logging in to an internet banking application, a user can be provided with a graphical keypad which changes its character placement on each refresh of the page, which avoids the keyboard usage & makes it difficult to track by the hackers online.