Walking in your users’ shoes

Hiking and Fintechs

You can find me on trails on weekends. Every trail is unique, even if you revisit your favourite. Mostly I focus on navigating the trail, but last weekend I found myself paying attention to people, as they moved though the trails. 

The thing that jumped out was at every junction there is a directional sign of some sort. As people came up to the decision point, patterns of behaviours emerged. At that moment of truth, some people would walk past the sign as if it was not even there. Maybe they didn’t see it, couldn’t care for it; whatever the reason they continued along on their journey. Others stopped, looked intently at the sign, then at each other, then at the sign again; furrowed brows, sometimes grabbing their phones. And then walked on, still somewhat bewildered.

Then I stopped and really paid notice of the signs themselves. Identifying your surroundings and relating them back to the map seems like the most pragmatic step when trying to locate your position in the wilderness. Yet somehow doesn’t always yield the results you were hoping for. 

I started to think about the designer of the map, and the user, and the parallels to the Fintech world. There are tonnes of incredibly intelligent, passionate people, arguably experts in their fields, and the tools and platforms that they create are always with a level of great expertise expected from the user, which while present at times, isn’t always the case. 

Literally walking a mile in your user’s shoes can help to shape how you help them navigate their journey. We use design thinking to build end to end digital processes and marketing/comms, creating journey maps to understand the user experience and flow. There are so many similarities with hiking and the experiences that we build for users.

User personas: telling the user’s story and journey. A hiker or investor who is experienced has a different story than someone trying things out for the first time?

Time: Journeys take place in a week, year or lifetime. What is the length of the journey for that particular user? Is it a one-off opportunity or retirement planning. Visiting the trail because you’re tired on being trapped indoors, or is it your passion?

Touchpoints and channels: There are many. What are your users doing? How are they doing it? With confidence, or furrowed brows. Users interact with the business and the trail in many ways. Some people go off the beaten path, others almost never veer off the trail.

Other factors: Friends, family or colleagues can influence how a user feels about the interactions with the trail, or platform. And outside factors like the conditions, environment, volatility, weather, packed trails or deserted ones, can also influence the experience.

Moments of truth: positive interactions that create awesome feelings for users, which you can use when frustrations exist. Like those signs at crossroads. Or those pop ups when trying to enter info when signing up for an account.

In the end, it’s all about the user experience, hiking, banking or otherwise. Ultimately understanding their needs and motivation, and helping them along their journey matters.

I also thought about another group of hikers; the group that is fully prepared, compass and topo map in hand, knowing cardinal points beyond where the sun rises and sets. I reflected on how more and more this group is growing and deciding to by-pass the trail altogether for another more desirable trail.