There are a lot of terribly designed, buggy and useless sites and applications out there. I can deal with a useful service that looks like crap… eflow.ie would be a good example (note: as of July 2014 it’s looking much prettier so this comment is now looks silly). It provides a useful service but it’s just terribly designed. It gets a job done but leaves you feeling angry at how awkward the whole experience / process was… for those of you who don’t know what eflow.ie is, it allows you to register your car number plates, add a credit card and any time you pass through the M50 toll, you’ll be billed automatically as opposed to having to manually pay in a shop somewhere before 8pm the next day or whatever the rules are…
The site that takes the biscuit
Recently, I’ve had to use Bank of Ireland’s online business banking. It is without doubt, the single worst experience I’ve ever had on any website / application / software I’ve used over the years. As an end user, it’s the type of site that if they came to me asking for feedback, i’d probably just say nothing because you don’t know where to start… it’s just infuriating trying to use it. I’m not alone in thinking that…
Honest, blunt feedback? – knock it down, start from scratch and fire whoever is in charge of it or whoever thinks it’s acceptable. It’s not. The technology isn’t the problem here, the people in charge are. Those people need to be ‘updated’ along with the technology. I’ve set the tone early on here with this post, but i’ll attempt to present facts and screenshots so you too can make a judgement call…
Before i visited the site or logged in, this is what i expected to be able to do: Look at balances, make transfers, maybe schedule payments, get statements etc… I’ve dealt with Dankse Bank, RaboDirect and Permanent TSB online… They’re all reasonably easy to use (some more than others). I do build sites myself, plus i focus a lot on front end development so i know first impressions matter – a nicely designed site can put you in a good mood. Generally i never have any problems navigating any site, but i’m not exactly an average user – i’ll find something if it’s there to be found. The average user would give up or struggle with accomplishing certain tasks. That’s really why i’m writing this blog post – because if i’m struggling to get to grips with a banking website, you can put money on it i’m not be the only one.
Where do i begin? I’ll start at the homepage. As a business user, you’ll probably go to bankofireland.com first. There’s nothing wrong with that site, i never passed any remarks on it when i first visited it. It looks easy to use, it’s reasonably pleasing on the eye etc… and it works as you expect it to, more or less (i could take a swipe at the menu system but i won’t as i want to focus only on the business site). If you click on ‘business banking’, you’ll be taken to this subdomain: http://businessbanking.bankofireland.com/. Again, nothing wrong here… but these are really just ‘about us’ pages with static contact on them. As a business owner, you want to log in and start transferring money or viewing accounts.
The login page is here: https://www.boi-bol.com/newHome.html. A different domain, new layout etc… but that’s cool – having multiple domains for the same business can make sense, it can make things easier to manage, all be it a little more tricky to sync everything and keep a consistent brand image across the board.
If you visit that login page, you may see a ‘loading’ box which covers the textbox where you’re supposed to enter your username. Who am i kidding, you WILL see that loading box. That’s because this ebanking website only works in Internet Explorer. Are you using internet explorer? According to traffic stats to this blog, there’s an 11% chance you are. That’s a fairly common figure these days. But Internet Explorer doesn’t fix the problem… only a specific version does. To get it working with the latest version of IE, you need to enable ‘compatibility view’ which is off by default.
Only then will you actually be able to login using a username and password. You still with me? Come on, this stuff isn’t rocket science, if i can figure it out, you should be able to too (he says with his experience in web development and IT degree)…
Once logged in
This is what you’ll see when you’re logged in.
Is what you expected to see? A ‘customer group’ and a ‘bank group’ with no account balances and financial related stuff? You don’t have to answer the question, I know the answer to it and so does everyone apart from Bank Of Ireland. It’s common sense. It doesn’t even require UI research or customer surveys. If i’m a bank running an online system, i know customers will want to manage their money quickly and easily. That’s the whole point of an online service.
Pull me back, pull me back… before i start ranting again and going off topic. Anyway, the reason you’re presented with this dashboard is because the username and passwords you’ve been posted out are for an admin account. An admin account creates groups who can be assigned certain privileges and then the admin can create users and put them in to groups. If you try to access transaction reports, you’ll just be presented with a warning saying you must select an account before viewing…
How do you select an account? You can’t. You need to create another user and assign them privileges.
Only when you create that user, logout, and log in with the new user can you actually start to see something that resembles the type of banking services you expect i.e. accounts and figures.
Even then, digging deeper is awkward… if you want to view accounts, you need to select an account and click on ‘retrieve a/c’s selected’. When you do that, a message box will pop up informing you that 1 account has been retrieved.
What happens then? Nothing… you still can’t see any balances or figures. To get that information you need to click on ‘Accounts’ in the main menu and select ‘transactions’ from a dropdown list. If you want to view your current balance, you need to click on ‘balances’ and so on…
If you’re looking for a business bank account and plan on doing a lot of stuff online, avoid Bank of Ireland at all costs. This isn’t some disgruntled customer who had a run in with them 5 years ago and is going around with a chip on his shoulder ever since… this is a customer who has never dealt with Bank of Ireland up until now. If you’re in the same situation, i’m going to save you a lot of trouble…
Don’t forget about this post… if you’re thinking of setting up a business account in the near future, don’t just brush this off as a nonsense rant… i’m telling you now, you’re going to regret signing up and will just give up with online banking because the system is so awkward to use. Don’t believe me? Check out these testimonials from some happy Bank of Ireland business customers…
“It is the single most useless archaic, unusable, ridiculous, half baked attempt at a self service website. Having worked nearly 30 years in IT and much of that in financial services, I have to say that this site and its functionality is a travisty.” source
“I had the misfortune of working on the helpdesk for a number of years, and it is indeed a complete cluster**** of a system.” source
“we’re still stuck with the identical system which is badly designed, gives a terrible end-user experience, is incompatible with a range of modern browsers, and fails to offer basic functionality which has been available in the personal banking system for a long time.” source
“Every year they tell me a Mac version is on its way – 10 years later and still no sign.” source
“It’s incredible that they haven’t sorted this out yet. I’ve called them a number of times over the years about it …” source
“BOI-BOL is the worst interent banking interface dare i say website i’ve ever used.” source
“BOI-BOL have pushed me back to cheque books and bank drafts while I seek a modern, user friendly bank”. source
People from BOI, i know there’s a good chance you’ll read this. Please don’t contact me and don’t inform me you’ll pass on feedback to relevant departments. I don’t want a response, i want BOI to fix banking for businesses online. Use the site yourselves and you’ll quickly come to realise it’s not acceptable, not fit for purpose and is actually costing your company in lost business. Because it’s so complex to navigate, it discourages those that can actually use it from carrying out any transactions with it.