Improvement of our Financial Digital Assets

Omar_SharifOmar Sharif was the lead digital Creative Director at CNN/Sports Illustrated in NY. Currently he leads his own boutique digital User Experience agency called Congregation, Digital Simply. To learn more, go to their website. You can follow him on twitter as well.

Note: The views shared here belongs to the author.

As a Bangladeshi-American, with experience in design (how information should be displayed clearly) I would like to take a stance on how we can get attention of our financial institutions to give us a better financial digital assets to interact with. Since websites are no longer just something one views from a desktop, and its something that is gaining more and more importance with the increase in mobile internet users, any institution should see their digital presentation as an asset.

Before picking out institutions whom I will use as examples (and there are many at fault) first we need to understand what design is. It is definitely not a Western made marketing gimmick but real science (not just social and psychology) and but science of the brain.

If you receive a piece of paper from your professor or a handout at a corporate meeting, and you are told to read through, we have to assume that we are not at an English literature class. The information has to have a hierarchy, What is the most important item, the second most important item(s) the third so on and so on. If everything looks to be the same size, have the same color, and things are packed into one page, I guarantee you will be confused. It will be hard for you to pay attention to what is important and what is lesser important than that.

The regulatory bodies in Bangladesh are a big sufferer of this problem. There is so much text, it’s as if we are reading a bulletin board. It packs in as much text as possible as if somehow if you don’t hit people with everything at once, they will not stick around the website. In reality it’s just the opposite. Simplicity is the key and we need to take the user’s attention to the most relevant places. Some features also need to be responsive (needs to adapt to a mobile/tab screen) but here in Bangladesh the designs are completely static. If the texts become microscopic while viewing from a cell phone then the website is missing out a critical mass of users.

Now in the private sector, at a certain banks website, all the vertical links below each section “Corporate Banking”, “Retail Banking”, “SME Banking” etc are tiny. Most Bangladeshi users are on a tablet or mobile phone. How are they supposed to tap those links with their fingers? This problem is quite rampant across all the bank websites.

And what is up with every digital space using scrolling text? It’s the text that goes from one direction to other, that’s used for “Breaking News” on media sites. One can  simply create a section for News and that solves it. Most students on their first year in design school use this scrolling technique. Our mature institutions have to go past that.

To put everything into perspective, what I am talking about here is UX design (User Experience Design). It’s where a person with a background in graphic design and technology work with company management and web programmers to come up with the architecture of their digital asset. More importantly, they decide how other human beings will use the digital asset and make sure the experience is simple and comfortable. In developed countries companies spend millions in this field, because they understand at the end of the day, putting people first is the best financial bet.

Our culture has history of knowing how to treat guests. Just because someone comes to your digital space, doesn’t mean they stop being a human being. They are also looking for comfort in getting the information they need and moving on. I hope institutions will pay attention to this, and treat people as guests. Even at some village homes, there are still a separate living quarter for strangers who may come at night to seek shelter and comfort. We need to expand this culture of hospitality everywhere including digital space.

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