UX (User experience) case study: Improving cross-sales in Halifax banking

“Exploring the Halifax online web mobile user experience”.

Introduction

Halifax founded in 1853, initially as an investment and loan society then grew from a building society to a Bank in 1973 due to the advancement of technology in storing customer data.

I’ll attempt to redesign the account dashboard, landing page and consequent pages to improve the user experience and meet the highlighted business requirements.

“The positive impact of technology in the financial services sector in the United Kingdom is unprecedented globally.”

The benefits of this tremendous growth in recent times are:

  • Increased transparency
  • Efficient banking
  • Reduced costs
  • The vulnerable are provided with access to financial services.

Problem statement

“Hey David (Chinwo’s partner), do you reckon you could help me figure out how to view my mortgage repayments and manage my overdrafts, there are too many pages on this damn thing?!”

User persona

Chinwo Uchukwu

  • Technology consultant at IBM.
  • A homeowner who lives in Birmingham, UK.
  • Loves a bit of retail therapy.

Aim

I hope to increase user retention and cross-sales for a range of products by exploring the time it takes to perform tasks that take too long. To increase user retention we will start by doing the following:

  1. Helping users perform important tasks in fewer clicks.
  2. Leverage personalisation methods.
  3. Thanking our customers for choosing Halifax where possible without being too intrusive/annoying.

My Roles

UX design, UX researcher and graphic design

Key objectives

  • Increase user retention.
  • Increase cross-sale conversion across mobile and desktop devices.

E.g. cross-sale to credit cards/mortgages, current accounts or other products.

Research

Competitors analysis

Banks Competitors Analysis
Halifax home/dashboard
NatWest home/dashboard
HSBC Home/Dashboard

Summary

NatWest utilises the middle content block well to display the most important information however they could make minor adjustments to their Z pattern with the use of a more noticeable P1 banner.

Being the largest corporation, HSBC has focused more on functionality rather than UI elements. Despite not being placed in the most visible positions they’ve incorporated two separate cross-sales onto one page — a very bold move.

Halifax is the only bank that has positioned a cross-sale on the dashboard. They have included this in a content block towards the bottom of the page, “Switch to us — (including accounts from other banks if you’re already a customer with e.g. savings accounts elsewhere) and get £100. Bonus!”

The most effective way to meet the key objectives is to strike the right balance between prominent features prompting a cross-sale and the use of minimalistic UI elements. This will help retain users by using e.g., notifications, imagery without being intrusive. One major issue is that all of these banks are not web responsive, this is an area worth exploring.

Red route analysis

This was a simple exercise that helped me understand the most frequently used features by existing customers.

Halifax top 3 most prominent features:

  • Viewing of accounts
  • Make and manage payments
  • Settings/profile dashboard

Zoom interview & user survey

(Qualitative data)

Potential users were interviewed via zoom the rest were asked questions on the phone whilst some filled out questionnaires via google forms.

Research questions:

  1. How would you attempt to see what other products are available to you at Halifax?
  2. What considerations do you make before applying for financial products? (E.g Overdrafts, credit cards, mortgages, reward and savings accounts, loans and ISA’s etc).
  3. What were your initial thoughts when you first joined Halifax?
  4. What has convinced you to remain a loyal customer?

User surveys

(Quantitative Data)

The data gathered in question four indicates Halifax have a great portfolio of products to offer and value their customers as one person expressed that their mortgage experience has been phenomenal, “any issues I have is solved pretty quickly”. Another mentioned that the bank charges for her overdraft facility are very competitive.

Halifax doesn’t use aggressive sales techniques to promote new offers, most of their marketing is directed via online advertising or in-branch.

Most customers shop around for a bargain, money-savvy customers look at the interest rate/payments terms and 14% review their credit scores before making any new financial commitments. This an indication that customers will buy into something if its right for them.

Insights

The top three features that are preferred by customers is a possible indication of where the most suitable areas are to place a cross-sale whilst maintaining consistency in existing design processes/configurations.

Summary

Zoom interviews are great for authentic feedback in restrictive settings it’s much easier to gauge emotional reactions. On the other hand larger group sizes e.g. corporate firms may require more time to carry out thorough research increasing costs especially if done frequently — the saying goes, “time is a precious commodity”.

In short, the research has highlighted that one way to boost user retention further could be to make affordable fees and mortgage products more prominent in advertising campaigns. In addition to presenting tailored deals to long-standing customers.

Ideation Phase (A)

Card sorting

This technique is used to generate ideas to form information architecture of products and services. Put simply this is how content is structured, organised and labelled it translate to what is shown on each mobile or desktop screen. I decided to do this alone but when run as a workshop it's far more effective.

Exercise guideline:

For users to group information that in an order understandable to them, these are called mental models.“Mental models = what the user believes about a given system”. Usually, how a person would expect the perfect system to work that incorporates seamless navigation and interactions.

Advantages

Is a straight forward exercise that can be performed by anyone, all you need are coloured post its and a pen.

Disadvantages

If you have too many cards it can become overwhelming

Summary

Focus on taking a deeper look at the account dashboard as this is where most interactions take place.

Ideation Phase (B)

Mind mapping

Mind mapping is a fantastic method that UX designers pick out of their toolbox to get ideas flowing.

Advantages & disadvantages

Great for idea generation, however too many options would perhaps make it difficult to find a solution that works.

Gitmind — MAP 1
Gitmind — MAP 2

Rationale

  • To exercise my divergent in my thinking skills by not ruling out random ideas.
  • To eventually narrow down my ideas by understanding what is realistically possible taking into consideration all known constraints. This could be cultural, time, budget, governing laws or policies of the country and industry etc.

Ideation Summary

Card sorting

Participants had free reign to group information to their understanding rather than testing how logical Halifax’s existing information architecture, this encourages more room for innovation.

Most tasks happened in the accounts dashboard index suggesting a potential cross-sale goldmine.

Mind mapping

The mind mapping ideation technique has been a pleasure to do, eventually, I had a steady flow of ideas and at one point there were too many to pursue which got me a little excited, I have to admit, its always a pleasure to do.

The green nodes highlight five new possible areas to use for cross-sales, one which is an existing hotspot for this strategy (account dashboard).

  • Snapshot of accounts
  • Virtual card switcher
  • Saving pots
  • Crypto wallet
  • Currency exchange

Wireframes

Low fidelity

I started with a mobile frame size in order to support web responsiveness. By taking this approach my intentions were that I would be accommodating a greater user base as we frequently hear how the elderly would be more familiar with banking using desktop platforms in comparison to mobile apps.

Mid fidelity

Moving into the next stage of the process I drew improved versions of my wireframes.

Proposed Solution

Following the insights from my research, the possible outcomes are:

  • Use visual hierarchy & copy written in persuasive language to encourage customers to buy and remain loyal, this should result in increased revenue, sales may grow exponentially.
  • Creative use of visual design to make content blocks and CTA’s more prominent. This simply keeps customers engaged.

In turn, this will help meet business objectives and requirements implemented into a high-fidelity wireframe and app.

Learnings from UX Phase

What is there to learn from this process?

Gathering data can take longer than expected if not planned properly with attention to detail, do not assume everyone will understand the way you phrase your questions this is more so when catering to a wide range target audience.

Be patient to analyse and draw conclusions to your data insights to get the most appropriate solution. Using participants that actively bank with Halifax produces accurate results.

Conclusion

Be curious, empathetic, and passionate about your work.

These are my key learnings.

  1. Over time you will acquire a range of tools to help solve a problem but the greatest challenge is knowing what tool is best for a specific job.
  2. Seek a balance between logic and emotion when building your UX skills.

With thanks, to my user experience mentor and lead designer at Publicis Sapient (Melodie Hoke) for her guidance and support, when things were challenging she encouraged me to go one step further.

Tools used

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Figma
  • Miro
  • Zoom
  • Sharpie, post-its and paper

Resources

  1. Halifax historical background: https://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/Our-Group/our-heritage/our-history2/halifax/halifax/
  2. The recent transformation of the banking industry: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/801277/UK-fintech-state-of-the-nation.pdf
  3. Customer retention strategies: https://blog.hubspot.com/service/customer-retention-strategies
  4. How to do card sorting — Career Foundry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxgMIEVcIMY
  5. Hick’s law: https://lawsofux.com/hicks-law.html
  6. Law of common region: https://lawsofux.com/law-of-common-region.html
  7. Law of proximity: https://lawsofux.com/law-of-proximity
  8. Law of similarity: https://lawsofux.com/law-of-similarity

Online portfolio & brand: https://www.samson-opayemi.com/

Thank you for taking the time to read my first published article on Medium, there will be more to come…until then, I’ll keep nurturing my UX talent.

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UX Designer

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Samson Opayemi

Samson Opayemi

UX Designer

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