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Usability Contest for Financial Applications. Intent Isn't Enough.  

:: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 ::

Who better to illustrate the tricks of the trade regarding the usability of handling online financial transactions than a credit card company?

MasterCard International announces its first annual Usability Excellence Awards.

"There are two categories for nominations in the Usability Excellence competition: e-commerce sites and financial sites. The e-commerce category includes online stores and payment processing organizations, and the financial category is for financial-services sites that offer customers online tools or information, such as those sites offering online banking and bill payment.

Winners will be chosen from each category based on seven important principles of Web usability: navigation, information architecture, accessibility, error prevention and recovery, writing for the Web, support and interface design. One winner and five runners-up will be awarded in each category."

I'll pick the losing site.

Which raises the question. Is this contest, run by a credit card company, also looking for end user security as a usability checkpoint, or did this not make the "important principle" list.

I would also factor in credibility and authenticity, but hey, that's just me. I'm having trouble digesting a contest on end user usability run by the same industry that just managed to get the US Congress to pass a change in conusmer bankruptcy laws that has the potential to bring hardship to people already in trouble.

My own banking institution is no candidate for this contest. Their online banking service is pathetic. They used to charge a fee for the ability to pay bills online, which I rejected after giving their application a try. They redesigned it, and dropped the service fee, but still, the service isn't usable. For a bank to offer a service online, it not only has to be secure, it has to be easy and convenient to use.

My husband, upon hearing my bank offered the bill pay service for free, dropped the bill pay service he was using at another bank and was being charged for, and switched over. It took the bank a month to send his password, via snail mail, so he could access it. When he did, my software application engineer husband was shocked at how annoying the application was to use. He's now shopping for another bank.

Obviously nobody from the marketing department tried the service, or if they did, they kept quiet. I've seen this happen too. A company has their media kit done and sales people out selling an Internet application when its still in the wireframe and development stage.


The usability of something isn't decided by its intent.

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 4/20/2005 07:52:00 AM

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