Foreign Exchange App

The Problem

As the UX lead, I was asked to complete research a POC for the bank’s newest foreign exchange application.  We were given a prototype that was done in six weeks by a contract agency. There was no data available to validate any of the design decisions. We needed clear, concise documentation because the team working on this project had multiple other projects to work on and context-switching was an inherent problem.

The Solution

 We were foreign to the whole Forex banking scene, so we had to do our research from scratch to ensure that the idea was being validated as it moved from the conceptual stage to development.  We did just-enough research to validate our hypotheses and ensure we made the right decisions within the timeframe as we went along.

The Process

We put a lot of time and effort into this project to ensure that we were able to gather the right data to make decisions that would benefit everyone concerned. A large amount of time was spent on research before we started developing the product.


Interviews & Intercept Method

We wanted to know what the core issues around using Forex were for our potential users. Many of the potential users had alternatives to the application and we needed to understand what the barriers to adoption would be, and how we might make this application a more competitive option in the market. Once we identified the bank’s target  group, we set up interviews with a sample group of 30 potential users.

Guiding Questions:

  • We chose this method because we wanted to understand how users felt about using Forex (and alternative) services. 
  • We went in the field and into banks to intercept possible customers.
  • We wanted to develop empathy for their issues regarding Forex.
  • The most important information for us was uncovering the issues with using the Forex services at the bank as well as what users might look for when deciding on a potential Forex service.
  • At the end of the day we managed to define the key themes that we needed to focus on improving in the user experience.

I took some of my team members in the field to conduct interviews.

User Journey

Based on the interviews that we set up, I had a good idea of what the user’s mental model was when using different Forex services. 

  • This also helped me understand what they would be expecting to happen when using the application instead of an in-bank experience.
  • We mapped out the experience based on our assumptions and insights from the interviews.
  • This helped me to work out the screen flows in the application.
  • We refined the journey a few times and redefined the users’ steps to see how I could simplify their journey to help them reach their most important goals.
  • Our new prototype was developed in accordance with our new assumptions.


Once we completed our initial prototypes in inVision, we needed to validate our assumptions before developing the UI further. We didn’t want to spend time building something that we were unsure of. As an agile team, we also used lean methodologies to help us make better decisions.

Guiding Questions:

  • We tested the prototype in person, in our Usability Lab, which I managed at the time.
  • Participants were briefed about the purpose of the study and were made familiar with how the test would work.
  • They were divided into two different groups.
  • The first group was allowed to explore the app and talk aloud while they went through it. This helped me observe if the journey matched their expectations.
  • The second group was given specific tasks to complete and we observed whether they were able to complete these tasks and achieve their goals successfully.
  • This process helped us to iterate on the user journey and identify core issues with usability in the application

I did testing in person and remotely for different aspects of the UX.

Persuasion, Emotion and Trust

Our wireframes had numerous iterations due to UX changes as well as branding changes. Each time, assumptions were made and these had to be tested. Each time we got a little closer to reaching our goal.

  • We completed a PET (Persuasion, Emotion and Trust) analysis on the UI to identify areas of concern that might influence the user’s decision making.
  • Each step of the UI, where decisions were to be made by the user, the PET analysis was structured to ensure that the user had the optimal chance of making the correct decision and feel good about it.

The final designs and branding have changed over time, but the core structure based on our research was a job well done.


This project was an interesting one. As someone new to finance at the time, the research process was very important. We had to understand how things worked from the bank’s side as well as what users expected from it.  

We learnt how to work as a team in a changing environment. We had to be agile and we had to ensure that we made decisions based on data.

  • Getting to know our users was a key aspect of being able to design the best experience for them. This takes a bit of time.
  • Make sure that you understand your users and do not allow stakeholders to project their mental model on the users.
  • It is important to stand up for what you believe in – as long as you have some data to back it up.

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