Here’s what real-world bank prospects told us about trying to open a checking account:

“The website did not fully answer my question . . . ”

“There were so many descriptive words that I had a hard time trying to decide . . . ”

“The checking account page was sort of confusing . . . ”

This is what product, marketing, and design professionals fear at banks across the globe as they fight organizational forces that threaten to leave prospects frustrated and confused. But these quotes are the unfortunate reality felt by real checking account prospects who shared these comments when we conducted user research about the websites of 12 banks across the US and Canada accessed through mobile phones.

In our study, we found that Canadian banks provide prospects looking for a new checking account a better mobile site experience than American ones. Canadian banks generally made content easier to understand and delivered a better experience for prospects filling out forms — for example, by providing a drop-down to aid in selecting an address.

The most common missteps across the US and Canada:

  • Banks use jargon that prospects don’t understand: What are “preferred rewards?” How do I get them?
  • It’s hard to know what fees to expect (and prospects are understandably suspicious).
  • It’s not possible to easily compare accounts and know whether one is a good fit.
  • Forms don’t follow best practices: Keyboards don’t match, and location assistance is missing.

Curious to know more? Read these reports: “The Forrester Banking Sales Wave™: Canadian Mobile Sites, Q1 2020” and “The Forrester Banking Sales Wave™: US Mobile Sites, Q1 2020.”

Special thanks to my colleagues Alyson Clarke, Senem Guler Biyikli, and Madeline King for all their work and partnership on the research. Our evaluations used UserZoom’s unmoderated think-aloud study feature, as well as a functionality review and a heuristic review. We then analyzed scores and comments based on five dimensions of user experience quality (effectiveness, ease, confidence, freedom, and aesthetics) and 29 functionality criteria.

If you’re interested, Forrester offers advisory and benchmarking for clients so that they can identify their site or app’s strengths and weaknesses, prioritize improvements, and help make the case for change internally.

Get in touch with me here if you have questions about the methodology or applying it to your site.