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Monday, December 2, 2013

M2U: Lesson Learnt

For those of you who were unaware, Maybank decided to roll out a new online banking interface on Friday morning without any prior warning or alert. 

Outcome: DISASTER 

Rolling out a new interface is one thing. Rolling out a horrible, un-user friendly interface with bugs is quite another. I tested it myself and was quite furious at the fact that I had to wait minutes for the site to load, let alone figure out what’s what on the new design. In fact, when the page first loaded, I was taken aback. Confused, unsure if this was a phishing site. I had to do a google search and reload the page a few times before it finally sunk in. 

And you guessed it right. Users started to post nasty comments on social media channels. At the last check, there were over 600 comments to Maybank’s message: 



Some hilarious comments included: 
Please kindly sack your IT Head, why roll out the new interface webpage on the last Friday of the month (where heavy usage is expected) ? Only 2 possibility, either the IT Head is Stupid or he/she don’t fxxking care about customer service.

I am still wondering – who was the brainiac who decided that YES, FRIDAY would be the BEST DAY to unleash our new look for the website. FRIDAY, you know, would be the BEST DAY! Because it is the End of the Week and End of the Month! Surely the customers won’t be affected much if the website has bugs. I mean, it’s Friday. End of the Week. End of the Month.

One more classic comment based on the design: 

No one buys windows tablet so don’t need metro style. 

Eventually, the public won. Maybank decided switch back to the old interface. At this time, the old website is back up and running much to the satisfaction of netizens all over. A few of them even expressed their thanks to Maybank on it’s official Facebook page. 

So what exactly went wrong and how can this be avoided in future? I’ve been designing websites for 15 years now and here are some things we can learn when re-designing a website. 

1. Change does not necessarily mean good, so baby steps please! Many businesses believe that their websites need to have a new look each year. Heck, I’ve seen some revamp their site every few months or so. Now if you have heavy traffic to your site, especially a bank, you may want to reconsider how you approach the redesign process. People have gotten used to some processes and styles that it cannot be changed drastically. Maybank’s website is used my millions on a daily basis. They have become so familiar with it that a radical design is bound to create a negative effect. Hence the right approach would have been to slowly evolve the design bit by bit. Maintain the overall look and feel but improve the layout (perhaps one that is responsive?), use cleaner fonts and maybe a wider page. Then after a few months, start to add new design elements. So the all new radical change will eventually be rolled out over a period of 1 to 2 years. Look at how Facebook has evolved. Many of the design elements are the same and have been slowly improved. The only major radical change they introduced was the new timeline profile layout and even that was done over a period of time. Look at Google. Their design for Gmail has been the same for years but the design elements, look and feel have been improved slowly so it still looks up to date and modern. 

2. Get user feedback prior to the redesign project Maybank should have engaged a professional consultant to get public feedback on their current website before even embarking on a design change plan. What do people like and dislike? Not everyone is like Steve Jobs and can claim to know what the market needs and be innovative. The truth is, people like that are one in a million. Once the user feedback has been received, analyze it and understand what it means. Ensure the questions asked are right. Not close ended questions such as “Is our website nice?” 

3. Inform the public first So you have a website which has tonnes of traffic. Your customers are important and they are your asset. Make announcements ahead of time. Prepare guides, a video on how to use the new site. Set aside a special customer service team to support users during this transition period. Put up banners and billboards. Digital advertising works great. Perhaps even a website dedicated to the launch of this new site. 
4.Give the option to switch back to the original layout When rolling out a new interface for a website, especially a service website, always provide an option for the user to switch back to the original layout. This is a practice done by many companies around the world. Remember, when Google, recently launched the new “Compose” format for its e-mail. There was an option to switch to the “Old Compose”. Maybank could put a link allowing users to revert to the old design, at least for the first few months till customers are generally used to the new layout. 

5. Get a good UX Designer. A good user experience designer is one who understands the users behavior online and knows how to create the best web experience. DO NOT overlook the importance of this. They are usually both tech and business savvy. Your IT Department may not necessarily be the right team to handle this. Get an external consultant who specializes in this field. The value they bring to your design is priceless especially for a website with heavy traffic like Maybank’s Online Banking. 

Note: To make matters worse. Maybank had a SMS alert problem later at night sending out text messages to users at odd hours past midnight which led to another round of furious customers complaining on their website. 

My personal thoughts on the new look and feel: 

1. There’s no need to go down the metro style alley. Online Bank website should be clean, fast loading with minimal javascript or other form of scripts. 
2. Gradient colours and shadows on text and boxes are a thing of the past. Hardly any new websites incorporate these. The trend is flat and clean these days. 
3. Sideways scrolling. Do we really need this? Especially for a banking website 
4. With all the boxes, you might get lost trying to find where the login box is located. It’s been proven over and over again that a user will look on the top right for a login box but what we get instead is a link to the menu and a search icon. 

I guess that wraps up this post. Hope you found it useful. 

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just my 2cents at 3:33 PM |

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