Tips for Designing FinTech Products

June 19, 2024
Written By:
Ceara Crawshaw

Recently at P&P, we were reviewing the industries we work with, and naturally, finance technology (FinTech) came up. Over the past five years, we’ve had the opportunity to work in accounting software, payments, mortgage software and finance-oriented dashboards. Plus, we've gained a first-hand perspective of the finance world by seeking to better understand and visualize our own finances with forecasting and reporting tools.

While FinTech covers a multitude of use cases, we’ve chosen to focus on applications that folks in finance use day in and day out. Because if you're crunching numbers or juggling budgets at work, we think you should be using a software tool that was designed specifically for the tough work you do. 

Here’s what we’ve learned so far about designing products for the FinTech world, including the common challenges and our tips to overcome them. 

FinTech products we work on

Deeply understanding how finance pros operate in their specific fields is crucial for crafting top-notch experiences, just like it is for any enterprise software.

We focus on designing for products that fall into these categories:

  • Financial management software
  • Investment software 
  • Portfolio management products
  • Trading platforms
  • Modelling software

So, as we share our UX tips for designing FinTech products in this article, remember we're intentionally leaving out consumer mobile applications, and focusing on enterprise products. 

FinTech isn’t regular UX

FinTech UX is in a league of its own. Sure, all the usual UX rules still apply: you want to steer clear of bad UX, embrace UX best practices, and appreciate the 10 heuristics including consistency, error prevention, and user control and freedom. 

But making excellent professional finance software isn’t just about simplifying at every turn. We need to find that sweet spot where we're showing enough data to be useful but not so much data that the interface becomes inscrutable. We need enough checks in place to prevent people from making mistakes, but we also need enough fluidity to the flow so that finance pros can get stuff done in a fast-paced environment.  

Take for example, the famous investment platform Bloomberg Terminal, likely the most in-depth platform in the finance industry. This product costs about 24k per year, comes with its own computer (and keyboard), and allows users to completely customize their views. It’s unlikely that anyone would describe the platform as “pretty,”  but what power users appreciate most is the tool’s exceptional customizability and the depth of data it provides. 

Not unlike super users in other fields, finance professionals seek information density and the ability to customize their views. Custom setups allow them to get their extremely high-stakes work done efficiently. And the tool’s flexible enterprise software features create a sticky platform that users rely on.

Image source: Bloomberg Terminal (Part 1) - Quick Introduction to Basic Functions 

Bloomberg Terminal is a great example of how standard UX thinking doesn’t always fit the complex use cases and data visualization required in these work environments. 

Tips for improving the FinTech user experience

Here are some practical ways to give your FinTech product a competitive edge. 

Hone in on finance professionals

When designing enterprise software, our mission is to help people do their jobs better. This means preventing software from getting in the way, slowing down or frustrating users.

When it comes to software for finance professionals, every point of confusion or bad usability is amplified (probably by a multiplier only finance professionals could model for us 😂). After all, we’re not just talking about sending $20 to a friend for that Uber ride you split—we're talking about influencing the global economy and the markets that run the world. #kindofabigdeal

The actions and decisions made using these platforms are some of the highest stakes around. That's why we need to design FinTech software with care, incorporating direct feedback from finance professionals on their workflows, concerns, and responsibilities.

💡 UX tip: Get a diverse group of finance professionals to conduct user testing with—not just internal users or power users. Map out their workflows in detail and run usability tests with high-fidelity clickable prototypes or live-coded prototypes. And remember, don't paint everyone with the same brush. 🖌️ Just because one person at one company has certain preferences doesn’t mean they will apply across the board at other companies.

Master the art of data visualization 

FinTech is all about data visualization. There’s really no way to deal with money without emphasizing this part of the user experience. Despite many concrete dashboard best practices, many FinTech products still fall short of basic usability standards. There are many oddities in finance data, which are typical of most data experiences, but magnified due to the sheer size and speed of these datasets. 

Take the element of time, for example. In FinTech, we're not just dealing with trends over a few years; we're analyzing data spanning 100 years, while simultaneously keeping tabs on market changes down to the millisecond. Plus, we often have multiple datasets merging together, each with its own unique time-related quirks.

We've also seen many use cases where multiple layers of data visualizations are needed to give analysts a general vibe of what’s happening over time.

Feature examples that rely on data visualizations:

  • Monitoring dashboards (real-time and otherwise)
  • Reporting dashboards, which explain things like performance over time
  • Deep dive data exploration experiences of all kinds that might require filters or data tables
💡 UX tip: When designing your experience, clearly explain the data sources and ensure that any constraints or important quirks are explained within the experience itself. Allow for maximum flexibility in data visualization to accommodate different user needs and preferences.

Navigate complex workflows and actions

Some FinTech products are heavily workflow-driven rather than data visualization-driven (although both aspects can coexist). In any high-stakes interaction, we need to set a standard of high-quality interactions within the tool. This ensures that users can understand where they’ve been, what they’ve done, and whether their actions have succeeded or failed (commonly referred to as "system status" in the UX world).

Feature examples that are workflow-heavy: 

  • Forecasting cash flow and profitability
  • Combining data sources for reporting purposes 
  • Data entry and correction in a UI
  • Setting up a complex project type with many variables 
💡UX tip: Make sure that workflows not only inform users of the current made a list of system status but also of how their decisions will impact other things down the line. For example, some decisions are permanent and can’t be changed once saved. Being transparent is key to creating smooth workflow interactions.

Build trust in the AI-driven digital finance experience  

In FinTech products, the integration of AI adds a new layer of complexity to the challenges we face in user experiences. Currently, one of the biggest challenges in our tech landscape—and likely to persist for the next few years—is the ability to effectively communicate the level of certainty recommendations should be treated with, as well as the constraints of the model within your product.

Feature examples that relate to trust and AI: 

  • Recommendations  
  • Calculated values in data visualizations
  • Data quality cleanup driven by AI
  • Suggested calculations or models 

FinTech professionals need to trust both the data as well as the system reliability and quality. Building that trust is an ongoing process influenced by several factors. Elements like the product’s look and feel, the copy, and the interactions and product behavior can either boost or erode trust.

💡 UX tip: Whenever possible, alert users to the potential consequences of their intended actions upfront, rather than issuing an error retroactively. Also make people aware of the data source, recommendation logic, or any other relevant information in the context itself—don’t just bury information in help documentation. Lastly, avoid situations where the system appears to be unresponsive, like lack of loading and success states to expand your understanding of data-rich enterprise experiences.

Keep up with regulatory compliance 

Understanding how laws or regulations impact the functionality or logic of your product, as well as its data, is key when designing FinTech software.

In the UX process, this entails collaborating closely with subject matter experts in legal and compliance. You want to be able to call upon those professionals for guidance and accurately explain the tech to help them make well-informed decisions. 

Feature examples that relate to compliance:  

  • Audit trails
  • Verification tools and flows
  • Help and training experiences 
💡 UX tip: Before diving into designing a new product or feature, make sure you've got a solid grasp on the requirements. Chances are, retrofitting this sort of logic into an entire design after the fact will likely feel fragmented or not well thought out.

Wrapping up

FinTech covers a wide range of software solutions used by professionals globally, spanning areas like payments, lending, investing, and insurance. The stakes are sky high in this industry, and it's crucial to keep that in mind as we work on this type of enterprise software. 

We hope these tips help you navigate the world of finance-focused software to deliver positive experiences to professionals, and ultimately better outcomes for everyone involved.

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