Giving powerful data the platform it deserves
The IT department of CE Bank (ITCE), wanted to improve a digital data-visualisation platform they had created for their colleagues a few years previously.
The platform is called BOAC and exists to help bankers offer profitable contracts to their business customers. For example, if a shop wants its customers to be able to pay by card, they’ll ask their bank for a card system. The bank will offer a contract for this service that’s based on certain criteria, such as anticipated earnings. BOAC simply makes it easier for bankers to negotiate a rate that makes good financial sense – for the bank and for their customer.
BOAC initially came into being when some opportunistic techies within ITCE spotted the potential of the relevant data and started putting it on a screen. Unfortunately, a lack of user-focused design meant, two years later, hardly anyone at the bank was using it. ITCE had heard from other departments at the bank that Fjord’s approach was perfect for this kind of redesign challenge, so they asked us to help.
Advisors love it and use it so much that it brought our server down… forcing us to upgrade it!
This was a short, intense project with a small, ambitious team. In just five weeks, we wanted to create a new, user-friendly design for BOAC that ITCE could start testing and developing right away. To meet this challenging timeline we had a highly iterative project plan with a lot of well-structured testing and feedback opportunities. This collaborative approach might sound time-consuming but it’s actually the opposite: the more involved we made ITCE, the faster and bolder our decision making process could be.
The project kicked off with a focused user-research session. We observed six bankers using the BOAC platform and questioned them closely about what was and wasn’t working. Although they could see the potential of the tool to help them offer better contracts, they found it so hard to use it wasn’t worth the effort.
We spent a week processing this research to create a typical ‘use case’ and an accompanying set of design protocols. We then reported back to our client to share what we’d created and to validate its accuracy.
At this point, we also presented a spectrum of ideas for BOAC’s redesign direction, ranging from ‘safe’ to ‘very ambitious’. The most radical of these totally reimagined the user journey – moving it from a search-based ‘bottom up’ experience to a ‘top down’ dashboard approach. Although this option had the most potential, we also knew it might be beyond the scope of what ITCE felt comfortable agreeing to. Of course, knowing the team as we do now, we’d have been able to guess they’d go straight for the most exciting option!
The next phases of work involved taking all the user research, insights and redesign ideas and turning them into a set of tangible, navigable wireframes. We presented these to the client by telling a handful of realistic stories about how their colleagues would use BOAC. This tangibility was important because it meant ITCE was able to give really useful feedback for the third and final stage of the project – the build of an interactive prototype.
This build took a couple of weeks and, with a few working days left, we ran a handful of prototype walkthroughs with a new set of users – most of whom had never used BOAC before. We gave these new users a collection of tasks to complete, based on a wish list we’d collected from the original user group. It was very exciting to observe how well they were able to fulfil these tasks, and how much of the platform’s functionality they discovered intuitively.
People really love the dashboard on the landing page - seeing all that data so beautifully presented and categorised means they have what they need to do an even better job.
When ITCE first approached us, they asked for best practice user experience guidelines to make BOAC ‘good enough’ for bankers to use. We challenged this brief because, in our experience, if UX isn’t based on specific user research, it’s just not worth the time. Instead, we offered them the chance to radically reimagine the functionality of their platform – an opportunity they embraced with open arms.
As a result, we were able to design something that transformed BOAC from a platform shaped by those who made it, to one that works for the people who actually use it. In the original version, a user was forced to follow the path imagined by the developer – which meant, if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you were more or less stuck. In the new version, the dashboard presents the information in a way that allows users to take their own path – which in turn leads to much better results. For example, a commercial manager could use the new platform to set regional targets, and monitor and compare the performance of different areas.
We’ve also had great feedback from our client. “People really love the dashboard on the landing page – seeing all that data so beautifully presented and categorised means they have what they need to do an even better job. Advisors love it and use it so much that it brought our server down…forcing us to upgrade it! We had a standing ovation when we presented it at the end of the year success stories session.” Nora Kétir, Project Director, CE Bank.
Today – about a year after BOAC relaunched – the platform isn’t just loved by the bankers using it, it’s actually setting the standard for all other internal tools and platforms at CE Bank. What’s more, because the design is so user-friendly, bankers have started showing it to their customers to explain why a contract costs what it does.
This project is a great example of how design thinking and design doing can bring data to life and make a huge difference to an existing product or service’s performance.
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