Who is leading the way when it comes to user experience and online banking? We UX benchmark four of the biggest US banks to find out!

Half of all U.S. adults with a bank account have used a mobile phone to access their account within a six month period, according to a 2017 Federal Reserve survey. With more and more banking services happening online and on smartphones it’s no surprise that financial institutions are investing heavily in their online experiences.

In our recent Online Banking Competitive UX Benchmark, we discovered which of the top US banks offers the best online user experience for its customers.

We conducted usability testing across four banking sites: Bank of America, Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo. In the full report, you can discover the results from a variety of qualitative and quantitative tests carried out on their websites, as well as our overall winner. In this article however, we’ll be revealing the results from one of the tasks from the benchmark – and it’s arguably one of the most common functions used on any banking site – starting a checking account.

Methodology

We conducted usability testing with 220 participants. These participants navigated live websites to perform four key tasks while UserZoom recorded behavioral and attitudinal data. 20 of the 220 participants spoke out loud during this usability test for in-depth understanding.

We assigned each company a qxScore (Quality of Experience Score) and then plotted this qxScore on the UZIndex to determine the comparative score. Their qxScore is a composite score that combines behavioral UX KPIs (Task Success) and attitudinal UX measures (Ease of Use, Trust, Appearance and Loyalty) on a 100 point UZIndex scale.

Finding a checking account

As is typically the case with most financial services, there are many options and offers for customers to choose from when it comes to opening a checking account. That’s why we asked our participants to complete the following task:

  • Pretend you live in San Francisco, CA in the 94105 zip code. Using this information, research checking account options available at [SITE]. You are looking for a checking account option to meet these needs:
  • You typically carry a balance of $10,000 in your accounts. ($15,000 for Chase).
  • You would like to earn interest on your checking account.
  • You would like to avoid paying any monthly account fees.

Results

Participants were most successful when comparing and selecting a plan on the Citibank and Wells Fargo sites.

Out of the four sites, Citibank had the highest success rate, but also scored the lowest on all of the other scorecard metrics.

When asked to rate the amount of information that was available on a 5 point rating scale, Chase Bank’s participants rated their site the highest of the four.

After participants completed the task they were asked to rate how easy it was to complete the task on a 7 point rating scale. Of the sites evaluated, Chase and Bank of America provided the best experience in comparing/understanding checking account options and finding a plan based on user needs.

That being said, all sites have room for improvement in presenting account information.

Problems & Frustrations

We also asked participants if they encountered any problems or frustrations while on the site:

  • Bank of America. Participants reported their top problems and frustrations as being: it was difficult to compare accounts, it took too many clicks to find the information, and it took too much scrolling.
  • Chase. Nearly one-quarter of Chase’s participants felt that there were too many clicks required to find the correct checking account.
  • Citibank. Participants expressed a high degree of problems/frustrations while attempting to find an account. Particularly with respect to the effort needed to find and compare information.
  • Wells Fargo. Participants felt that it took too many clicks to find the requested information and that the information was scattered.

Challenges

  • Citibank. Participants had the highest number of problems/frustrations related to comparing accounts. Notably, they felt there was too much scrolling involved and that information was scattered.

  • Bank of America. Despite the majority of participants on the Bank of America site navigating to the comparison chart, 20% indicated that it was difficult to find the option to compare accounts.
  • Chase. Although Chase’s participants were highly confident that they chose the right account, they actually had the lowest task success rate at 60%. Of those who had frustrations with the task, the ability to only compare two accounts at a time was an issue.

Recommendations

Participants get frustrated when they need to scroll and click to find information they feel should be readily available, especially on mobile devices.

To minimize this frustration we recommend the use of expandable menus so that the main categories are within a single page view. It’s vital that category names make sense to the user so that they can find the information they are looking for within 1 or 2 clicks – a category card sort can be of tremendous help here.

You can read more recommendations, discover the results from the rest of the tasks and celebrate the overall winner of the benchmark by downloading our full report: Online Banking Competitive UX Benchmark.