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The Time is Now for Redesigning a User Interface

Strategically Speaking
Dec 10, 2020

Tammy Wilson Author: Tammy Wilson,

Redesigning a user interface (UI) is a most uncertain thing for all involved, particularly when the product has looked and felt essentially the same--comfortable, familiar--for a very long time.   When is the right time to enhance it?  What is the right approach?  Will users embrace the updates?  Regardless of the risk and additional work involved, there comes a time when a facelift is the right path forward.  There will likely be a variety of reasons behind the decision to update a user interface, but the driving force must be the best interest of the users that live with the product every day.


As with all things technical in nature, interfaces advance.   In 2004, Check 21 was enacted and it required platforms to support an image-enabled process.  This change was fundamental and was the impetus for substantial system development efforts in payment processing software.  User interfaces were built or redesigned to allow for image displays in the workflow.  To provide some perspective, in that same timeframe flip phones were all the rage, the iPhone was still three years from introduction, and you needed a PDA to do impressively productive things like update your digital calendar.  We’ve come a long way in some areas of technology.  In others, not so much.

You could argue that there hasn’t been another true payments revolution to justify a complete overhaul in platforms since those Check 21 days.  As demands for advanced functionality have increased, most providers have layered new technology on top of existing systems to deal with progressing needs.  At some point, though, providers have to consider if it makes sense to remodel or replace the workhorse.  That foundational system that’s been around for years, the one that all of the exciting new options are built upon, the one users rely on day-in and day-out to get the job done, the one they know like an old friend, quirks and all.  When that reliable, functional workhorse starts to show its age when set alongside new upstarts with lesser depth of functionality but eye-catchingly attractive user interfaces, it’s time to consider a change.

That kind of change is scary.  All change comes with risk, but sometimes you reach a point where the risk of maintaining the status quo exceeds the risk that will come with change.  And that is where many of us who’ve been in the financial services industry for many years find ourselves today.  Thanks to companies like Apple and Amazon, the population has evolved to expect an exceptional user experience.  Clean.  Fresh.  Intuitive.  Simple.  When a system’s first impression leaves something to be desired, it’s hard for users to look past a less-than-remarkable exterior to appreciate the fantastic functionality inside.  Particularly when a platform is exposed to a financial institution’s end user clients, it is important to deliver solutions the FI can take pride in.  Whether we like it or not, user interfaces reflect on the FI and its ability to provide clients with an experience that is enjoyable and effective. Dated UI’s don’t encourage user confidence.  Get that experience right, and you increase customer satisfaction and stickiness.  Get it wrong, and well…customers can be fickle creatures.

In order to continue to meet the expectations of users, new and old, sometimes you have to step off the ledge and plunge into something new and improved, trusting that the net of improved customer experience will be there to catch you.   As with any change, there will be bumps in the road as you implement improvements.  There are real risks involved in making things better, but they are nothing compared to the risk of sticking too long with the status quo.  When you know whole-heartedly that the time is now, and you believe in the company and/or people involved, you can be confident that the outcome will be worth the effort.  And, at some point down the road, you will look back and say “Yes, that was scary, but it was so worth it.”

Read our recent blog post about UI/UX Best Practices to learn more.


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