Understanding online banking users

Design research • 2019–2020

Helping users transition to the Rabobank app

Many Rabobank users have already started using the app to do their banking, instead of using the web version or even paper. However, there is a group who still uses online banking in the browser, but hasn’t adopted the app yet. So, the bank asked us to discover why this is and how they can support this customer group in the transition or with different solutions.

To cover a broad range of users, Rabobank selected users with differing levels of literacy and various degrees of visual impairment. With contextmapping, a design research method around sensitising and interviewing users, we tried to answer the question: how can Rabobank support customers who aren’t making use of the mobile banking app, while their services tend to focus on digital technology?

The cover of the booklet saying “My Booklet” with a field to fill in the name of the participant.
Every participant got a sensitising booklet, which they were meant to make their own, which starts by letting them write their name on the cover.
An exercise on day two, asking the participants to show their relationship to different online services in several circles surrounding ‘me’.
The booklet consisted of five short assignments spread over five days, to get the 7 participants thinking about the topic of (online) banking.
A screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation with only audio messages.
We used audio recordings to sensitise the visually impaired participants, which they really appreciated.
A group mate and me clustering paper statement cards on a table.
After the interviews, we transcribed all of them, highlighted important quotes and turned them into statement cards. We clustered those cards to ‘create’ the insights.

A workshop and a persona set

To make sure the design team was able to use the results as effectively as possible, we didn’t just create a report, but also a persona set and a workshop. The team already had personas, but to make it easier to highlight important differences in attitudes and behaviours, we proposed a new representation of their users. The set also included takeaways on designing for visually impaired users, as their needs did not depend on the persona division. In the workshop, we presented the most surprising results (such as that limited phone storage is an important driver not to use the app) and let the team come up with ways to make sure their designs are more inclusive, at least for visually impaired users.

The cover of the persona package, saying “Helping users transition to the Rabobank app” and showing the four persona illustrations.
We delivered a packet with the personas, both to print or to show on a screen.
A framework with two axes: behaviour in financial management and attitude towards technology. In this framework, each section represents a persona: trusted regular, purposeful navigator, casual passenger, and motivated trailblazer. Those are accompanied by icons and tags.
The personas were based on the differences in attitude towards technology and their behaviour in financial managment, which emerged from the clusters.
A persona, the trusted regular, explaining who they are and how they act.
The personas were each identified by a name, icon and illustration, to bring them to life without adding distracting demographic details. The content was based on the insights and supported with quotes from the participants.
Me, presenting in front of a screen.
We held two presentations: one on contextmapping and another as an introduction to the workshop.
Several Rabobank designers working on the workshop at a table.
During the workshop, the design team looked at their own design process to come up with ways to make their designs more inclusive.

Sensitising and interviewing users

We worked on this project in a group of four students, with support and coaching from Muzus. Contextmapping revolves partly around sensitising users with cultural probes and interviewing them afterwards. As my other group members were all international students, I had to translate some of the materials between Dutch and English. However, this also meant I was able to interview 3 of our 7 participants. After the interviews, we made sure to have each transcript be reviewed by at least two group members, so we were able to decrease the chances of missing insights. I drafted the workshop and focussed a lot on the insights on visually impaired users for the persona set.


  1. Many sensitising tools or cultural probes are not directly applicable for visually impaired participants. Audio recordings for the instructions and the participants’ responses worked well, but left less room to reflect than when filling in a paper booklet.
  2. Agreeing on the amount and kind of updates with your client about progress is really valuable. This can lead to a better relationship, higher involvement and—probably—better results.
  3. Interviewing someone in their home is a completely different experience from a different location, but it is very valuable for the amount and depth of your insights.

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