Company: BMO Harris Bank
Project: Online Bank Account Application Redesign
Team: Public Websites
Timeframe: March, 18th 2019 – Present
My Role: Senior User Experience Researcher
Link to New Application: https://bit.ly/36bV9Wk
Project Overview: Online Application Overhaul
Objective: BMO Harris is physically present in only 10 states in the U.S. and wanted to expand our customer base across the country which would require a robust online application system. The application at the time was out of date, had a high bounce rate, and was not user friendly. Therefore, a new initiative was created to completely overhaul the online account opening experience and I was responsible for leading the research efforts.
Solution: After several rounds of research studies and prototype revisions the new application program was launched in March 2020. This user friendly and streamlined (9 steps to 3 steps) application was immediately put to the test due to increased traffic resulting from the pandemic. The final result was an increased conversion rate, decrease application completion time, and customers in all 50 states for the first time in the bank’s history.
Research was embedded in every step of the redesign process starting with conducting baseline in person usability testing of the current experience to a final validation of the final version prior to launch.
Baseline Usability Testing
In order to better understand the pain-points of the current application experience it was essential to conduct baseline usability testing with users looking to open a new bank account. However, this was a relatively new team and office that did not have a usability lab, so creating one became my first task.
I was able to convert two small conference rooms into a temporary lab and observation room for the study, including camera setups to capture user’s device interactions and facial expressions. As a result I was also able to develop:
- An in person usability testing procedure.
- Usability checklist.
- Portable usability test kit.
Competitive Analysis and Testing/Refining Designs
After uncovering the usability issues users encountered when applying to a new bank account with us, it was time to see how BMO stacked up against the competition. Two designers and myself analyzed the account opening experience of 15 competitors ranging from traditional banks, fintechs, and credit cards companies with banking.
The best experiences had:
- Clean uncluttered User Interfaces
- A pre-filled application option for current customers
- Copy that is concise and easy to understand
- Condensed legal information
- Applications that were optimized for mobile devices
Additionally, competitor applications fell into two main categories: A long one-page application or a multi-step application with many small pages. Therefore, it was was decided that two new prototypes would be created: one long and one multi-step and I would conduct in person A/B testing to determine which design was optimal.
The results of the A/B testing did not determine a clear winner but instead lead to a combined version that took the best attributes of the two prototypes. This new design had only three steps with the majority of information being entered on the first page of the application. I subjected this new design to 3 more rounds of remote unmoderated usability testing and redesigns until it the final version was ready to go live.
A Brand New Application Experience
Conclusion and next steps
This online application overhaul was driven by a robust research process leading to a user centric final product that was quickly put to the test. The MVP was launched in March of 2020 at the beginning of the global pandemic. Not only did the new system take on a large increase of new applications but there was a higher completion rate, the average time to submit had decreased, and it led to the bank having customers in all 50 states for the very first time. The latest update was in August of 2020 which allowed current customers to pre-fill their applications with the information the bank has on file. Several other exciting features are planned for release during 2020.