Break these seven rules to get ahead in the growth of financial products

Alex Kreger, UX strategist and founder of financial UX design agency UXDA, adds soul to banking and fintech products in 36 countries.

You have to be willing to break the rules sometimes when designing innovative products and an exceptional user experience. Limitations diminish our creativity and lead to formula-like and uncompetitive results. So let’s think outside the box and break a few rules instead of making boring and underpowered financial products (or whatever products you make).

1. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Sure, modesty is embellishment, and jealousy is a bad feeling, but it’s the exact opposite of making better products. You have to constantly look the other way and look for better ideas to deliver a wonderful customer experience. Look at your competitors and the best examples in the industry; be inspired by it and go even further.

Do you want to make an excellent banking product? Why not learn from the convenience of Amazon, the coziness of Starbucks, the innovation of Apple and the beauty of Ferrari? There is certainly greener grass that can guide you and motivate you.

Venmo, for example, was deeply inspired by social networks. It allows friends to quickly and easily split bills and share users’ transactions in a friend’s news feed, similar to those on social media.

2. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

This may be true for your TV, but not when it comes to designing the best customer experience. Don’t be afraid to break the status quo to make the world a better place. Finding a better solution for established processes requires creativity and the first principle. The world as we know it today wouldn’t exist if Steve Jobs hadn’t reinvented the cell phone.

For example, Klarna has taken good old-fashioned credit and turned it into a digital product that, unlike credit cards, requires no scoring and has no impact on a user’s credit score. As a result, embedded BNPL credit, which is easy to use, has revolutionized the market and launched a new megatrend in the financial sector.

3. Never combine business with pleasure.

Many believe that the financial sector is ruled by calculation, greed and money, leaving no room for humanity or emotions. It’s time to break that stereotype. Look at fintech; they win millions of customers at the speed of light because they offer care, simplicity and convenience.

It is foolish to waste our lives on things that have no meaning or joy. Find out exactly how your product can help people, improve their lives and give meaning to them. Add creativity to your product, make it unique and exciting, and it will bring joy back to your work.

Look at Richard Branson; his passion for products and people is legendary. As Branson writes in his book, The Virgin Road: Everything I Know About Leadership“Fun is one of the most important and underrated ingredients of a successful business. If you’re not having fun, it’s probably time to stop and try something else.”

4. Stay in your lane.

Minding your own business isn’t bad advice because no one likes upstarts, but when developing new products, there are always more questions than answers. And those who aren’t afraid to look like silly upstarts can discover unexpected and exciting solutions.

Move on, experiment, try new ways and look for new opportunities. Elon Musk is constantly breaking this rule and exploring new horizons. He decided to conquer space, even though he had no previous experience, and he succeeded.

For example, Apple added Apple Pay and recently joined the BNPL trend after realizing that integration into the company’s product ecosystem would significantly improve the value proposition for their customers. Now the largest electronics company in the world has become a prominent newcomer in the financial sector.

5. More is better.

Many brands continue to add unnecessary features; if your competitors have 100 features in their product, you need 101. We all see the victims in this race: complex and incomprehensible products that frustrate users.

And we know from psychologists that human attention is limited to about seven elements. That’s why it’s critical to find the right focus and not show too much of what you’re offering in the product. Users don’t like the paradox of choice; they want a solution to a problem.

For example, Robinhood took a trading service, ditched some complicated trading charts, tools and settings and simplified it, making investments available to millions of ordinary people.

6. Treat others as you would like them to do to you.

It’s a simple rule that I always try to follow in life. But in the case of product design, it plays a cruel trick on us. Entrepreneurs design a product for themselves according to their taste because they think that the people around them have the same experience and knowledge and will therefore love the product. This “curse of knowledge” can only be cured by doing research and communicating with users.

For example, the owners of a financial services company once came to my company to complain about the low demand despite the advertising, the beautiful design and the fit of the product. Research showed that their customers did not understand the service and used different mental models. After a redesign, demand increased sharply.

7. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

On the one hand, designing a product in-house gives you more control. On the other hand, the worst banking products were designed by internal teams. External designers gather vast experience and knowledge in search of cutting-edge solutions for different brands, and the company rules do not limit their search.

Experienced staff with rigorous methodology can help find the right answers and design a solution that satisfies users and business owners alike. But it requires product owners to challenge their mindset and transform the usual business model.

Often people are so used to rules that they don’t even realize the impact. As a result, most products are developed at about the same level: average. But if you want to offer your customers something special, something that surpasses the competition, you have to break through those internal limitations.


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