Friday, October 17, 2008

New Portal Interface Woes

The new user interface to is really, really ill conceived and planned!

I’ve been a customer of their for years and have been using their internet banking facilities pretty much for most of those year. I have come to depend on that facility for almost all of my banking needs from bill payment, shopping and fund transfers. It has always been a convenience for me especially since banks have stopped operating on weekends which used to be the only time I could do my banking. It is not surprising then that I would be really ticked off to find the very service that made the banking experience with Maybank so convenient these past years so unacceptable with this new user interface.

They have set the bar quite high with their previous user interface. Their customers will have the same expectations that they have before when they login to the new interface. When those expectations are not met, having a screen that pops up apologizing for any inconvenience caused by the new interface is simply not enough. Changing the interface without a reasonable transition period for users to get use to the change also shows a surprisingly short-sighted planning on the implementation team. Were they not expecting the problems that people would have adjusting to the sudden change? I’m fairly sure that the change was done very recently since the last time that I used the interface earlier this month, it was still using the old interface.

A saving grace to all of this is that users are given the option of using the old (they are calling it the “classic”) interface on main screen that users come to when they type in the URL. Unfortunately, it is not implicitly clear how to get to the classic interface from that page. It took me a bit to realize that users are suppose to click on the box that tells the user that they could still use the classic interface to get to those pages. The site implementers would do well to have the link to the classic interface defined much more clearer to their visitors to avoid having their customer hunt for it.

Instead of making the new interface the default screens that customers see when they come to the site, they should have done the opposite and offer the new site as an option for early adopters to try out. As more people get a chance to get accustomed to the new layout, the better the acceptance of the new interface will get when it is implemented. It would even be better if those early adopters could give their feedback to the site designers that could be incorporated into the final design. If this opportunity was presented to the users in the preceding months then I can truly say that I was totally unaware of it. If it was then most probably notification of early adopter opportunities were not prominent enough to get the attentions of those who might want to try it out.

The worse sin of the new interface has to be the slow response and unpredictable login stability. It took me nearly 5 minutes to pay 2 bills that would have taken me less than 1 minute in the old interface. It was worse when my login got cut off in the middle of a transaction with only a pop up screen to apologize for the inconvenience of having to login again. While the transaction did not go through and I did not lose any money for the botched transaction, it was not an experience that I wanted to go through if I was in the middle of transferring a large sum through the system. It was really disappointing to note that such bugs in the systems were not thoroughly tested and fixed before the interface was opened to the public. I have to wonder if the project team responsible for the new interface considered all the possible scenarios for the user acceptance phase of their design and implementation project.

I do hope that the implementation team fixes all the problems that this new interface has and fixes them soon. It will be a blow to their customer’s confidence in using their internet banking facilities if this were not to happen. I would definitely be much more happier if they reverted back to the old interface and offer the new interface as a link for early adopters to try out while they work out all the kinks in the system. It is not fair for them to expect their users to accept a substandard level of service while they try to get their act together with the new interface.

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