Democratising banking in an informative and fun way

The brief was simple: design a new digital hub which would present dry banking topics in an exciting and motivating way and help gain customers in the process, plus create additional microsites for business and youth customers.  We also had to create a design concept that could be rolled out across the main website and its additional microsites as well.

As we got to know the users and understand its philosophy, we helped developed a more ambitious vision. From an early stage, we were hugely impressed by the bank’s open and democratic approach to banking. Customers are given a say in many aspects of the business, from the key investments it makes, to its appointments to the board.

We believed the opportunity was to create a digital hub that was infused with this sense of community and of customer empowerment. So, the site would become a guide and would be aligned with the message: its services were about people and not just money.

Informative and fun

When you visit your bank and meet with an advisor, you expect to be asked questions on your personal circumstances and issues, so that they can offer you customized guidance. We wanted to help the VR.de experience to be just as personal. Customers could leave feeling their specific issues had been quickly identified; they would feel more confident and gain a better understanding of the options open to them.

To realise this goal, we designed based on the clients brief a simple system that went to the heart of the issue. On the main homepage, instead of the usual list of products and accounts, we envisioned a simple map, which conveyed a number of key banking topics or customer journeys, from buying your first house to planning a family trip.

For example, when the user clicked on the relevant issue, they would be taken through to a sub-page with a helpful list of insights and the key questions they’d be required to consider. If they were looking for information on buying a house, they’d be asked questions on their circumstances and life stage.

The process was designed to both educate and motivate the customer in a fun way, so they would take the time to explore the sub-pages and improve their knowledge before making a final decision.

As with all projects we work on, as well as doing extensive usability field-testing, an important part of creating this service was asking ourselves how we’d like to experience the site and what we’d like to get out of it. After all, we use online banking services every day – some of us are even Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken customers – so we could understand the kind of experience customers are looking for. When you design for yourself as well as the user, you can get the preferred results.

Accessible banking for everyone

At the beginning, we were tasked with developing a tangible design concept for the bank’s private customers that can put the user into focus at all times. In the end, we went even further, by helping deliver a much more personalised experience that is helping to position Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken, as a partner to its customers and more than just a typical bank.

The simple and crisp UX design means you don’t have to speak German to understand what the site is conveying. The layout presents complex banking issues in a friendly and informative way, helping the user to feel relaxed at every point of the journey. It helps to make banking accessible and fun, simple and un-daunting.

VR.de is recognised as a vital resource by its users and is changing perceptions of the sector in general by helping reimagine the supportive role banks can play in our lives. The feedback has been extremely positive. So much so that, soon after the site was launched, we develop the same human-focused design concepts for its business and youth customers as well.