Homepages remain a critical part of the user experience for any financial services firm. They are the first page a user sees and the page that a user sees most often. Homepages, and the information and capabilities they contain, can make or break the user experience.

CI’s UX team recently conducted a study on desktop banking homepages and account dashboards. Our UX research team helps clients test concepts, designs, ideas, and any other UX aspects they are seeking feedback on. As the findings of these projects are client specific, we usually can’t write blog posts about them. However, this recent study was an internal one that explored multi-product customer sentiment about desktop banking homepages and account dashboards—findings from which we can share here.

For this UX study on banking homepages, we spoke to users that currently have at least one bank account and one credit card with the same financial firm; we chose to focus on Gen X and Millennials. Users were allowed to interact with the authenticated sites for four different banking firms. We chose to look at two brick and mortar firms (Citi and Chase) and two online only firms (Discover and SoFi).

Users prefer the desktop homepages of brick and mortar firms

Users expressed a preference for the homepages of brick and mortar banks like Citi and Chase throughout the study, thanks to well-placed account information and a single page banking experience.

The location of recent transactions is important for homepages. We found that users often logged in to view specific transactions, such as recent purchases or bills. Both Citi and Chase placed some of the user’s recent transactions on the homepage, which allowed them to quickly find that information without having to click into specific accounts. Some users showed a preference for Citi because they placed the transactions above the fold, while Chase placed it at the bottom of the page. Discover favored minimalism and didn’t place any sort of transaction information on the homepage. SoFi, meanwhile, hid minimal transaction details under the fold and below promotions.

This screenshot shows Citi's homepage, including transactions, for desktop
Users liked that Citi places transactions above the fold on the homepage

Citi and Chase also both allowed users to navigate through their multiple accounts as a single page experience. Citi did this with a left side navigation that let users click through their account information, which populates on the right side. While Chase did this by opening a drawer that users could easily close out to return to their homepages. When users were navigated to additional pages on sites like Discover and SoFi, they would sometimes use the browser back navigation to get back and look at other accounts. One user specifically mentioned that this was problematic out of concern that they could potentially be logged out.

This screenshot shows how Chase displays account information on the homepage
Chase expandable account drawer

Users can appreciate promotions, as long as they aren’t intrusive

While some users were vehemently against any type of promotion on their homepages and dashboards, most users saw benefits in seeing them. Most users who have multiple accounts with a single firm spoke about having favorable banking experiences and were not averse to grow the relationship. Some users even spoke about the convenience of having a “one stop shop” for their banking needs. Promotions allow these users to see other products they may be interested in. However, even users who saw benefit in seeing promotions did not want them given more visual weight that account relevant information or mixed with their account details.

This screenshot shows SoFi's homepage, including high quality images
SoFi Homepage

Users did not like the promotions on Citi and SoFi because both firms used high fidelity stock images to highlight promotions and offers. The images drew user’s eyes away from their account information, which was a source of annoyance for them. SoFi added an additional point of confusion by placing promotional tiles in the same section as a user’s current accounts. In contrast, both Chase and Discover were more subtle, presenting promotions with more visual uniformity to the rest of the page. These promotions were still noticed by users but were not seen as intrusive.

This screenshot shows the debit and credit columns on Citi's transaction section, which users liked
Debit and credit columns on Citi Transactions

On account dashboards, users are looking for layouts and features that improve their ability to scan for specific transactions. Both Citi and SoFi had features that users appreciated for improving scannability.  One feature, seen on SoFi, that users spoke highly of was that they parsed out each transaction by month before breaking them down by date.  But by far the most advantageous feature was seen on Citi, which had separate columns for account credits and debits. On other sites the two transaction types were differentiated by color only, which users appreciated but the separate columns were preferred.

This screenshot shows SoFi's banking dashboard
SoFi Banking Dashboard

While having a feature that users appreciated, SoFi also had a feature that was strongly disliked in this study. SoFi displays a dollar amount on their banking dashboard that totals a user’s savings and checking accounts. This annoyed and confused many users because they initially saw the number and thought it was the amount in a single account. Users in this study said that when they placed money into a savings account, they had no expectation to spend it in the same manner as money placed in a checking account. By showing the combined total, users felt that they may be misled into spending more than they planned.

When users log in to their banks on a desktop PC they are usually doing so with a specific intention. Many users that we spoke with didn’t expect to be in their accounts for more than a few minutes. With that in mind, a successful homepage and dashboard will allow users to accomplish their intended task quickly, with clearly labeled account information and dollar figures that are not misleading. In this UX study on banking homepages, Millennials and Gen X showed a strong preference for the homepages and dashboards of brick and mortar firms like Citi and Chase. This tracks with our previous findings that it isn’t always disrupters who have the best user experiences. The best UX often comes from firms that are willing to track and adopt best practices wherever they arise.

For more best practices and insights across the financial services industry, check out our Insight section. And learn more about how CI’s UX research team can help your organization.

Kevin Chu