More often that not, top professionals running design and marketing in financial firms look more comfortable in jeans and a black shirt than they do in a three-piece.
As customers expect more from their banking apps, the industry has looked outside for fresh talent. These people bring with them experiences from ecommerce, media firms, and advertising agencies that are crucial for success in developing consumer-facing technologies.
“Bringing in people with fresh perspectives from outside has been very valuable for us,” said Josh Klenert, executive director of user experience and design at Chase. “Different backgrounds give a fresh perspective. We don’t just compare ourselves to others in the financial industry — we’re competing against any other app that a user has on his or her mobile device.”
This outside perspective has helped Klenert lead brands through big changes. Because UX designers place the customer at the center of their work, being an outsider forces them to ask questions and to challenge the status quo. Being new to an industry requires an empathy that drives user-centric design, peeling back an issue to frequently find a simpler solution.
Klenert understands well the technology transition the financial industry is going through, because he’s one of those fresh implants. With stints at Billboard, iheartradio, and The Huffington Post, the designer has frequently found himself in industries and firms that are undertaking large transformation processes. Based in Chase’s San Francisco office, Klenert leads a division that uniquely cuts across all of JPMorgan Chase’s brands with content and design.
To work across divisions and brands, Chase created the Digital Customer Experience (dCE) team, a design organization lead by Tim Parsey with a set of principles that define its design philosophy. This document affords Klenert and his team an easy way to explain its perspective when it begins a new project.
Chase believes in creating the simplest experience possible. One area this shows through is the recent redesign of the consumer online experience at Chase.com, simplifying the dashboard so that payments and accounts are all on the same screen, requiring fewer clicks for customers to pay bills.
Chase also recently simplified its payment app, QuickPay, adding modern touches like photos of friends and cutting down on the number of screens users need to jump through.
The dCE team at Chase tries to personalize technology experiences. For example, Chase users will see different topography on screen on the homepage depending on where they’re located and what time of day they access their machine.
“If you’re in San Francisco, you’ll see San Francisco,” said Klenert. “We’re adding humanity to the experience.”
It’s here that Klenert makes use of his background in storytelling. He’s employing a friendlier, conversational tone and language in technology and messaging. Chase is trying to do away with the kind of lifeless, generic bankerspeak we’ve all become accustomed to receiving from our financial institutions. That includes meaningless technology terms as well, so in place of a login/logout button, it’s now sign in and sign out.
Chase’s dCE team is trying to create a cohesive experience that’s familiar across the firm’s brands and touchpoints. The designers are working towards a consistent topography and iconography across all its experiences, including at ATMs, which now also leverage local topography.
Every step of the way, Klenert and team incorporate user testing into their processes. Different projects have different scope and scale and the user testing process typically reflects that. Chase also tries to get users involved earlier in a project — sometimes before an idea is even half baked.
“We’ll share concepts and even pencil sketches, to get user feedback early on to help shape the product,” Klenert said. “We believe we’re transforming how our customers are using digital products. It’s amazing to have the scale to get feedback from 65 million people.”