Safe landing – a review of the direct deposit banking experience

In April, Online Banking Review featured our article on Direct Deposit Banking. Please read the full report below.

Once a potential customer has clicked on a banking website, the landing page must keep things clear and captivating.

In a competitive banking environment encouraging customers to sign up for your products can be a challenging task. It is however, an essential one required to build your business. After working so hard to get customers to your site, it’s an injustice to let them slip away. On the surface it might seem that all online forms were created equal. However, the reality is they’re not and you can do plenty to ease the burden that customers often feel in establishing a relationship with you.   

But what factors are most likely to encourage customers to quietly slip away?  We set out to answer this question with a two-pronged attack.

Firstly, we conducted an expert review of the process of searching and applying for an online high interest savings account. Secondly we conducted usability tests (with the assistance of Tobii Eyetracking hardware and software) with 10 individuals. These individuals include six males and four females, ranging in age from 25 to 55 years, who have online banking experience. All participants were city-based professionals. During the test all participants worked through from a product aggregator page ( to the account offer landing page then to product sign up. Four online savings accounts were reviewed – UBANK Usaver, INGDIRECT Savings Maximiser, RaboPlus Premium Saver and Bankwest Telenet saver.       

Before we dive into the online form process, lets take a quick look at what happened when participants arrived at the landing page. For the INGDIRECT Savings Maximiser account participants were taken directly to the product page within the main site. While this is advantageous for orientation to the site, the page visually overloaded the participants.  The following heatmap created by Tobii Eye-tracking software illustrate where participants were looking in the first four seconds.


Savings Maximiser 0-1 second


Savings Maximiser 1-2 seconds


Savings Maximiser 2-3 seconds


Savings Maximiser 3-4 seconds

The INGDIRECT Savings Maximiser webpage is incredibly busy and many elements are vying for attention. In the following heatmap for the total time spent on the site, attention is evenly scattered across the whole page. The call to action link – the point of it all somewhat – is hidden in the body of the text requiring more effort and longer time for users to proceed to the next step. Even the main login button in the top right hand corner drew attention away from the intended spot.   


Savings Maximiser Total time on site

Once a customer has arrived on the landing page, they should be able to decide to apply without being overloaded and there should be a clear call to action. Ubank USaver was successful at achieving this with their landing page. In the following image attention is more focused and facilitated a faster track to begin applying.       

In the image below, attention is more focused and facilitated a faster track to begin applying.


The Bankwest page was also simpler. The following heapmaps show where participants looked in the first four seconds. Their gaze clearly progressed down the page to the relevant information in an orderly fashion.


Bankwest 0-1 second


Bankwest 1-2 seconds


Bankwest 2-3 seconds


Bankwest 3-4 seconds

Having oriented themselves to the page after 10 seconds (as shown in the heatmap below) participants also found the key bullet points valuable. Interestingly the interest rate figure within the body of the page was more popular than the rate in the top banner. Banner blindness is somewhat encouraged as the call to action button is further down the page (in contrast to the position of interest rate and button on the UBank USaver page). 


When planning a landing page, consider what are the key information requirements that are essential to make a decision to apply. Everything else undermines the clarity of that information. Novelty items like projection calculators fall under that category. Here is an indication as to how important it is, see below.


Across our review and usability tests the resounding theme is K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). It’s a time honoured principle but one that’s more relevant than ever when it comes to usability.


Ease with speed

All participants commented that they preferred sites which they felt they were able complete quickly. The perception of speed rather than absolute time taken is key to satisfaction.  So what effects speed?

LABEL ALIGNMENT ING, Ubank and Bankwest right-justified horizontal labels performed well. There is a clear association between the field and the label, the completion was smooth and manageable.


UBank right alignment


RaboPlus left alignment

In terms of labelling best practice, labelling a field top aligned as shown in the next image, will streamline the process even further. The small sacrifice in increased vertical space of the form is well worth it.


SUCCINCT QUESTIONS  Whenever appropriate participants preferred questions that required a yes or no answer. Compare the two instances below for the postal address section. Two extremely different treatments, participants loved the option on the right.


UNNECESSARY QUESTIONS  If your questions don’t have a direct bearing on the form applications, it is best to avoid them. Participants in the following stances were tempted, and some did provide made up answers to get through the process. Clogging up the process with additional request increases the risk of customers dropping out, never to return.


OR ILLOGICAL QUESTIONS  Some questions didn’t always make perfect sense to participants. In the following example, the request to verify an address was initially ignored by most then greet with puzzlement.  If your reason for a question is a legitimate one but not entirely obvious to customers, briefly explain it’s purpose. Frustration will give way to greater appreciation for the information you are seeking.  


Show me the way

PROGESS OR FEELING OF PROGRESS  Participants wanted to keep going non-stop once they started filling out the forms. It was important to feel like the process was not going to be overwhelming. The progress bar helped them see where they were at all times. Naturally the few steps they saw, the more positive they were in attempting the task. In addition, the feeling of achieving a milestone quickly was appreciated. 


SMART FIELDS  Participants loved when fields populated ahead of them. It lightened the workload and made them feel more positive towards the site provider. Participants enjoyed selecting their title and it populated the gender field. In some but not all sites when the BSB number was entered the bank title appeared. Simple features such as this combine to create a positive experience. In and of itself a single field may not seem much but collectively it’s another brick in the wall to climb over. If it can be done, do it.

With the inputting of numeral digits for example phone numbers, participants had a natural tendency to include space in the input field. It was a case in point that common and natural behaviours were not taken into account when the form was designed.

Technology should be utilised to accommodate human data entry rather than show an error message.

Tell me how it is!

GOOD COMMUNCATION During the application process the customer is doing most of the ‘talking’. Minor information is feedback to the customer as to how they are going and more often than not in the process you’ll only ‘hear’ from the bank when you’re made an error.  One participant spoke about the desire to have each field ticked once it is filled correctly. The constant level of positive reinforcement would mean they’d not worry about going over old ground and would always be moving forward.

Inline validation is the next best thing and many participants loved it. Instant error message was unanimously agreed a
s the ideal style of messaging. Attending to the issue then and there meant the process was streamlined. UBank stood out in this regard.


HELP IS HERE BUT HIDDEN  Customers crave the ability to contact bank even though they might not need it. We have already mentioned the need for a Contact Us function and help is regarded in the same way.  Ready, easy access to help (as close to the relevant field as possible) is has major appeal.  It is also best practice.


WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO NEXT? At the completion of a form step, participants were given a range of options to choose from.  A lack of consistency across the banking sites means customers cannot benefit from conventions.  Each time the participants arrived at the action buttons – submit, continue etc – they were required to think about the step, rather than it be an automatic reaction.


It is useful to know that the visual presentation of actions should match their importance. Reset, Cancel, Go Back [secondary action] are not as important as Save, Continue, Submit [primary action].  Therefore there should be a clear visual difference between the options presented. It is also important to align the primary action with the input field for a clear path to completion. The extra clarity of this action will avoid mistakes and speed up the application process.


(Image from Luke Wroblewski, Web Form Design 2008)

This brief review of some of the elements of form application serves to highlight where customers can become snagged on certain parts of the process. It goes without saying that your goal is to get customers from start to finish, but to allow them to do so in the shortest amount of time requires some thought and consideration. Your information needs may not always be transparent to the customer, for very valid reasons, however their needs require your attention to. Balancing both sets of needs will result a win-win.



















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About Objective Experience

Objective Experience is your partner for customer experience strategy, research, design and usability testing. Our team of passionate Customer Experience Consultants uncover insights from your customers to optimize customer journeys across all digital and physical channels – mobile apps, websites, systems, shopper and retail. We research on how customers interact with products, services and environments through interviews, surveys, focus groups, desk research, eye tracking and usability testing. Actionable recommendations are developed from our in-depth observations and testing. Our partners and clients come from a wide range of businesses and industries - from large financial institutions and government organisations to technical consultancies, Universities and not-for-profit businesses. Objective Digital Holdings Pty Ltd has offices in Sydney (Objective Experience Sydney) and Singapore (Objective Experience Singapore). Eye Tracking, CX, UX, Usability Testing, Shopper Research & Design Thinking across Australasia and South East Asia.

1 thought on “Safe landing – a review of the direct deposit banking experience

  1. Found the form format information most insightful! Worth considering the vertical label format. (The eye-study data didn’t yield any revelations on landing page design and was rather insignificant considering they only had 10 test subjects.)

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