Just over a year ago, I started working as an Art Director in the UX & Digital Channels Design department at Alfa Bank (the largest private bank in Russia with 6.3 million active digital clients). The department consists of UX Editors, a UX Research Laboratory, Graphic Designers, a Marketing Team, and an Emotional Design Team.
Why does Bank need emotions?
Emotions are significant for every product because they engage, entertain, and create connection between customers and a product, leading to increased loyalty.
According to Don Norman, people react to user experience at 3 levels of emotional processing: visceral, behavioral, and reflective. Understanding these different levels is important for better UX design. Here are nice videos that provide a brilliant explanation of how these emotional levels work:
How can we use these levels?
- Visceral level. This refers to the automatic reaction to something, such as missed clicks on a button because it’s too small. Therefore, it is important to avoid negative triggers and incorporate positive ones.
- Behavioral level. This is about usability. When you're trying to help people understand the core mechanics of your product, you need to get out of their way and make the path incredibly clear.
- Reflective level. This level is about storytelling. The goal is to determine the fundamental strengths of your product across the entire feature set and onboard users gently into it.
In my opinion, FinTech interfaces have reached a good enough level in general, and users do not pay too much attention to interfaces anymore. So, if you want to reach the next level and maintain your position as an industry leader, you should invest more in emotions. In other words, we need to add a bit of magic to users' flows to create a "wow" effect.
Emotional Design Team
As the Art Director and leader of the Emotional Design Team, I take a holistic approach, considering not only the product perspective but also the business standpoint. I actively search and propose product changes that create growth opportunities, always mindful of the business value that design work brings. Emotional Design Team focus on creating end-to-end emotional experiences to leverage business growth and engage our users. And our goal is to create empathetic and resonant user experiences through impactful design.
“Run” is a systematic approach that supports the existing business processes and product lines of the organization.
“Change” involves providing a timely response to emerging innovations in a given business segment and launching new projects accordingly.
“Disrupt” means breaking existing patterns of doing business and implementing radically new, breakthrough ideas and innovations.
We are involved in all Disruptive projects and some Change projects, if the changes are significant. Many of these projects aim to engage new users, such as the “Bank within a Messenger”.
One real example of how to create an emotional interface for buying precious metals in the Alpha Bank app. In this case, we present the metals as unique NFTs that are fun to rotate and look at:
4 Key Principles of Emotional Designers
- Be User-centered. FinTech is a delicate business domain, and it is crucial for us to maintain the loyalty of our users. That's why we always advocate for users and avoid using dark patterns.
- Make experiments. Design experiments that align with user needs and preferences, testing hypotheses to uncover effective strategies for driving user acquisition, engagement, and conversion.
- Keep synchronized. Cross-functional collaboration is crucial for our effective work. We involve ourselves in the early discovery stage, keep our teammates synchronized, and maintain transparency throughout the design process.
- Don’t forget the magic. Although we focus on data, metrics, and business needs, our goal is to make an emotional impact with our work.
How to measure magic?
We carefully craft multiple variations, each based on a clear hypothesis. Each option is fully designed and of high quality, and "works" for a different reason. Then, we test these variations in our UX Research Center before fully launching the strongest solution. The UX Research Center is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that enables us to test prototypes, including emotional recognition, using eye-tracking tools.
Emotional Design Leader’s focus
- A bird's-eye view and holistic storytelling.
- Advocate for users and maintain user-centered design principles.
- The communicator between product, business, marketing, researchers, and users.
- Design vision, quality control, and best practices monitoring.
From Emotions to Growth
This year, we have participated in ** major projects. ** of these projects have already launched and reached more than ****** new customers.
For me, the most important achievement is that the product teams have begun allocating funds to hire more designers for our Emotional Design Team, which shows that we are moving in the right direction 🚀