The Face of Finance

Photo courtesy of Tom Tullis

Bentley University?s Design and Usability Center organized its first conference, The Face of Finance, in spirit of this year?s World Usability Day theme of usability in financial applications. In one of the first sessions, Meena Kothandaraman stepped in for her colleague Mona Patel of Motivate Design to share Insights from Conversations with Financial Consumers. She discussed some of the fears and hesitancies that participants in a recent study expressed when asked about their financial situations. While most of the participants said that they used tools such as Mint, all of them agreed that there was a larger fundamental insecurity they had with trying to save money and pay off debt. One participant reported feeling like ?a slave to their debts,? regardless of what they did. Kothandaraman and Patel presented the study in the context of behavior change and provided several examples that UX designers could use when trying to redefine the issue of financial saving behavior. One of the most interesting recommendations they made was to look at how people have tried to change their behaviors when it comes to being more energy efficient with tools such as the Nest.

In the panel, Designing for Financial Systems, my peers and I discussed how we, as user experience designers, approach designing financial tools for users who come with preconceived fears about financial planning. When asked what we thought were the most fundamental elements of designing financial applications, we all agreed that cultivating a feeling of ?trust? was one of the most critical things to keep in mind. Furthermore, the concept of ?transparency? when guiding users through financial planning was appreciated by an audience of both financial professionals and UX professionals, alike. After all, given the economic crash of 2008, conversations about trust and transparency have become even more relevant to our financial health. The conference concluded with Congressman Barney Frank, who gave the Keynote Address about his involvement in the creation of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.