That Bank of Ireland app: Lipstick on a pig | by Ultan Ó Broin | Jul, 2021

Ultan Ó Broin

If you don’t take care of your customer’s experience, your competitors will. A look at why user experience design is a must for businesses on the digital transformation journey.

A textbook example of what passes for digital transformation coming up. The “traditional” Irish banking industry continues to struggle with the superior consumer experiences offered by Revolut and N26, evident by the “new’ Bank of Ireland mobile app aimed at the consumer.

The user goal of completing one simple task using the app tells us there is no transformation here, but a poor refactoring of a UI to match existing banking business processes and IT infrastructure.

Bank of Ireland app experience for adding a payee to a personal account. The data entry is fictitious.

Let’s look at an example of adding a payee to my Bank of Ireland (BoI) account using the app. We find:

  • A limited length of entry in fields is enforced (probably due to the database architecture and data validation routines)

Here we have no consideration of very basic 30-year-old usability heuristics about task completion and familiarity. In UX design terms, there is no personal banking customer mental model applied. The mentality evident is the one of the IT database administrator and a business concern with large corporate accounts not personal users who can look to other solutions.

Is it any wonder millennials would prefer to bank with Google or Amazon than the traditional bank?

This is an example of why user research, design, and evaluation are required on the digital transformation journey (and with every other digital solution). The BoI app is not unique. There are other examples everywhere in Ireland and the world where the IT department or managers concoct a solution without user involvement or using design-led thinking to create and evaluate solutions.

Without research into the context of use, including the competitive landscape, iterative design in collaboration with customers and stakeholders, and then measured evaluation, transformation efforts change nothing.

As customers are increasingly being required to go mobile, then designing for that platform does not mean refactoring your existing solution by putting “mobile-first” lipstick on the database pig. What is even more depressing is the consolidation of the banking industry in Ireland that now forces less customer choice based on user experience.

There are other points I could point out about the Bank of Ireland app. It’s simply appalling.

You will get the user experience you design for. Or not. Employ a user experience professional if you really want to change your business and win customers. Locking customers into a high pain threshold to transfer business instead of offering them a superior user experience for a compelling business model is simply not acceptable.

Screen capture by Ultan Ó Broin.

Ultan Ó Broin is a user experience design professional from Ireland.

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