The first journey I had within the IT industry, began in a large Middle-Eastern financial and brokerage company. Within a duration of 365 days, I had the luxury of being introduced and exposed to the field of User Experience and User Interface design as a trainee.
The lessons and concepts that I came to know and grasp were things that I never considered in application design.
However, fintech applications, in their own right, are very different from the usual bunch.
This is mainly due to the fact that they have their own specific set of guidelines that must be applied and followed.
Even though a variety of valuable concepts and guidelines exist, that you can follow when it comes to fintech application design, here’s a short and useful list of design choices I managed to grasp over the year throughout my time in the industry:
1. Emphasize and give attention to values
Values are incredibly important in any financial and business application. As a user, what matters most to you are your percentages, positives, negatives and other numbers that you want to know and monitor in a glance.
This is why it’s crucial to make sure that any values that you present to your user, especially those values and numbers that are key to the user’s objective, are given enough attention.
For example, as an investor, your objective might be to know how well your portfolio is performing. Therefore, any increase or decrease in value should be highly visible at a glance, so that it’s both convenient and quick for the user to analyze and digest the numbers.
If the values are presented in a very small font size or equivalent to the size of it’s label, it becomes a chore to the user because:
- He/she is forced to locate and identify the value, no matter how aware they are of the layouts and the overall interface.
- He/she is forced to direct their attention to the label and value pairs, rather than the value itself. Although this is not an issue, there is still the problem of diverting attention to the value itself.
Another important rule to understand are decimal places. If you are dealing with an application that provides sensitive values to your users, then by no means should you hide it’s decimal places (if present).
There can be scenarios where rounding off or reducing the number of decimal places is accepted but in most scenarios, this is a bad practice.
Key values, such as values representing money, are very important to your user and they must be presented accurately in it’s full form. Even if figures look the same, a change in one decimal place can make a significant difference or impact to the user’s goal and objectives. Hence, it is important to present all values and numbers, regardless of it’s length.
So…How do we handle this ?
- Larger font size allocation for key values and numbers
- Smaller label font size in comparison to it’s value (Depending on the scenario and context).
- Clear visibility and clarity of symbols and signs associated with the value.
- Do not hide any valuable details, such as decimal places of a particular number.
2. Maintain a consistent and simple design
The rule of consistency is well-known to any designer and UX practitioner. Majority of the time, applications such as EToro, includes a challenging learning curve to first time users. This is mainly due to the fact that most fintech applications include a heavy-list of features that can often startle the user.
Fintech applications often ignore the suggestion of providing a limited set of features to it’s users, a general convention that is applicable to most products.
Every feature you provide increases the cognitive load and learnability of the application from the perspective of the user.
This is why, in the realm of fintech, your closest ally to help your users is Consistency.
Maintaining a consistent yet simple design throughout will reduce the learning curve of the overall application. Using similar layouts, elements and components in the application will help the user to easily get accustomed to each page or widget presented within the product.
Furthermore, having a cluttered interface and design will most likely confuse and overwhelm any first-time user. So it is key to design and develop an interface that is well-grouped and easy to follow through, even at a first glance.
3. Use a limited set of colors with good contrast
Just like in any application, Colors play an important role in terms of visual aesthetics, brand and key indicators. With fintech applications, we can view colors from several perspectives:
- Domain and Region
- Indicators and Signaling
Domain and Region
In finance, people look for security and trust. This is one reason why the color “Blue” is frequently associated with fintech applications. Blue is a dominant color that represents trust, stability and confidence. These are key attributes that any fintech application aims to achieve and portray for their users.
Just like the color blue, there are certain signature color palettes or individual colors that are accepted in certain regions and countries that, as a designer, you deal with when it comes to your clients.
For example, even though the color blue is considered to be trustworthy, any light shade of blue is not so popular in Middle Eastern countries due to the color’s softness and vulnerability, attributes that will not convey well in the financial or banking industry.
This was an important lesson I had the opportunity of learning through trial and error when I was assigned to cooperate and collaborate with a Middle Eastern client.
It is crucial to undertake research and see how well colors can come together to form a visually pleasing and dominant fintech application, that provides reassurance and security for your users, mentally.
Indicators and Signaling
Colors can be used as indicators to provide visual cues and signals to the user. Rather than using messages or symbols to indicate a certain change in values or numbers, colors can be easily utilized to convey this information with little effort.
For example, the most common pair of colors used in fintech apps are red and green.
Red is often used to indicate danger, more specifically, negative figures and effects.
Meanwhile, green is used to indicate safety, which is used to represent positive values and figures within the application.
Using a fixed set of colors, such as red and green, throughout the application makes it easier for the user to clearly identify and detect any changes in their numbers that they might frequently monitor, such as an increase or decrease in income.
Furthermore, maintaining a consistent color scheme is a great way of communicating the same message at all points across your application, especially when visualizing data and presenting figures that are dynamic or unique.
For example, using both red and green across the app will always represent negatives and positives. This will be registered in the user’s mind every time they encounter these colors at any point in the application.
This is a great example of consistency and how you’re able to establish a common message throughout the application.
It is important to make sure that your color choices provide enough contrast to aid your users to clearly differentiate and identify elements, such as buttons and values. Going back to a previous point, values are incredibly important and it’s good to be mindful of the colors you will choose to visualize and represent this information while at the same time, ensuring these values are visible to the user when using the chosen colors.
At the time, coming to understand these concepts and best practices was eye-opening as a trainee UX Designer.
By no means is this a complete list because there is a lot of other conventions and rules that, as a designer, you should be aware of when building and crafting a fintech application.
I hope this was helpful to anyone who’s starting out in the field and hopefully, you’ll be able to better understand, evaluate and apply these practices on your own work.
Keep on wiggling
This is Jiggly,