Product design

A Snapshot of 4 Hurdles to Fintech UX Design


mins to read

Apple has revolutionized the computer industry. Uber has changed transportation forever. Airbnb made the same for tourism, but yet nobody has fixed bureaucratic thickets of finance. We instantly send messages overseas but can’t do the same with our money. 

People struggle for financial services cheap and convenient, borderless and transparent, working as a one-stop-shop for all consumers' financial needs. There’s no way brick-and-mortar banks will provide humanity with stellar digital experiences. But why tech giants don’t fight for a chance to offer us such an opportunity? 

Because the world of finance is not for the faint of heart.

Facebook tried to create Libra, a new global payments system to become a simple, low-fee medium of worldwide exchange. But the system does not yet exist because Libra hit some regulatory roadblocks in Europe.

Telegram has been also developing a new blockchain platform called the TON and a native cryptocurrency to open a new era of money. Now TON is over, because it got banned in the United States.

Even if the brave new tech company declares a holy war against an outdated financial system, it gets stuck in outdated financial regulation, compliance, and other rules that, in addition, vary widely from country to country.

At what point did I think that a fintech startup was a good idea?

Improving the customer experience of a financial product is hard, but not impossible. Fintech startups prove that.

How fintech is disrupting traditional banks

If you can’t beat them, join them. And fintech joined. This emerging industry at the intersection between finance and technology eats into banks’ business while playing by the banks’ rules. 

Like, people wanted something cheaper and faster than SWIFT for international payments. But using intermediary banks to get your money from one country to another takes a ton of time and resources. So Wise (formerly TransferWise) found an elegant solution — they allow people to make international payments but money never actually crosses any borders. 

If you want to send money from the UK to a friend in France, you deposit the amount needed to Wise’s local UK account, and its local French account instantly sends money to your friend. Fees and delays minimized. 

How is TransferWise designed?

That’s the way fintech companies bypass bureaucratic obstacles so they don’t affect user experience. And there are more such obstacles you should be aware of when working on the UI/UX design of a fintech app.

Beware of regulations 

An eagle-eyed visitor of Revolut’s website may notice that this “financial technology company that offers banking services” avoids calling itself a bank in all possible means. Instead, they coined wordy euphemisms:

  • An account that says goodbye to financial borders;
  • A truly global financial super app;
  • One app for all things money.

You may think Revolut is just keen on staying out of traditional banking and its vocabulary, but the company just can’t call itself a bank. 

Yes, it has been providing banking services since 2015. Yes, its banking services are better than those of most traditional banks. Yes, Revolut holds an EU banking license by the European Central Bank. But as confusing as it may seem, that still doesn’t make the company a bank. To call itself a bank, Revolut needs to be granted a UK banking license, as well as licenses of the other regions where they operate.

Beware that financial regulations, that are unique in any country you’re going to operate, set the rules for fintech apps’ information architecture, the words your fintech app can say, and services it may offer.

And by the way, regulations tend to change from time to time. You'd better track those changes.

Fintech and UX regulators

UX challenges of AML & KYC compliance

Just like traditional banks, fintech startups also struggle with the demands of know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) compliance. Those are the procedures that inevitably affect customer journeys, and user experience designers should know how to handle the rigorous standards, yet maintain a solid user experience.

Onboarding best practices say we have to remove all the obstacles between new customers and the app. KYC policy says, however, that you have to verify the customers’ identity before letting them perform financial transactions. Now, how to combine those contradicting requirements in designed products?

Nine circles of verification are always among banking design trends

It’s important to break up the registration steps into small chunks, helping people to focus on one task at a time. But Binance went even further trying to make the long miserable verification process more bearable for users. The cryptocurrency exchange came up with three verification tiers: Verified, Verified Plus, and Enterprise Verification. It works just like tiered pricing.

Banking UX trends for user verification by Binance

For private purposes and small amounts, the first level of verification is enough. It usually takes up to 15 minutes and requires users’ personal information, their ID, and automatic facial recognition. Fast and easy. 

Only for large amounts and specific features, Binance bothers its users with proof of address, proof of income, and manual reviews.

Cybersecurity and UX design for fintech 

Having a simple password is easier, right? Having a single simple password for all accounts sounds even better. That’s probably the reason why “123456” is still the most popular password on the web. Hackers give crowd applause for such a choice — it takes them 25 microseconds to crack that password.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, financial companies are 300 times more likely than other institutions to suffer from cybercriminals. So cybersecurity is one of the key concerns during the fintech design process. What complicates the task of security is that consumer behavior plays into the hands of hackers. 

The more complex password requirements we make, the more creative users become in preventing those systems from getting their work done. “Security poses major design issues,” — says Don Norman, the godfather of UX. “Is there a solution? No, not yet.”

To prevent users from creating passwords that can be cracked in 25 milliseconds, when designing for fintech you have to make registration forms that don’t accept simple passwords. They deliberately increase friction for safety, but even so, there’s room for a user-friendly interface. 

Instead of making people guess the password requirements by throwing combinations of letters, numbers, and characters at the wall until something sticks, you may create a delightful real-time password checker as Mailchimp did.

BTW, it takes 93 trillion years to crack “GreatPassword123!” 

Get through a financial language

One study has found that the readability of most banking sites is worse than the readability of protomodern Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick; or, the Whale. For the record, it is the story of 19th-century whaling, full-packed by symbolism and literary references, with a lexicon of over 20k unique (partly coined by the author) words.

And that’s most banking sites that beat Moby-Dick. Some exceptional financial institutions seek to compete with "Ulysses" by James Joyce for the title of the world's most difficult-to-read text.

Communicating complicated concepts in human terms is one aspect in which fintech app design can easily top old-school banks. That’s what we’ve learned recently when designed a budget app for our client Habstash, and here are some pieces of wisdom we took away from this project:

  • Disclose detailed information at the right time (and allow users to dig deeper into it).
  • Explain things visually when possible, especially things like timelines, processes, and requirements. In the picture below, you can see how we designed a dashboard for users to see their progress.
  • Show real examples to demonstrate what you’re trying to communicate.
  • Avoid terms and acronyms
  • If terms are unavoidable, use tooltips. Working with Habstash, we faced some confusing terms like “stamp duty,” and tooltips helped to explain them to users.

Budget app design for Habstash

Fintech is eating the world right now

Fintech is not for the faint of heart. It poses many hurdles for designers and developers. But still, fintech is booming and disrupting traditional banks in every aspect of their business from payment services to corporate lending.

In 2022, fintech investment growth will go even faster. It is expected to reach US$310 million, and that’s in time of a dramatic fall in investments due to lockdowns and restrictions. What is it if not the best time to dive into the turbulent waters of fintech?

We at Eleken love challenging fintech projects just because they are so challenging. So if you’re in business and need UX design for banking app, drop Eleken UX design agency a line.

Dana Yatsenko


Table of contents

Top Stories

Product design
min read

Product Development vs Product Management: Visual Guide

When we talk about building a digital product I can’t help but think of parallels with construction, as creating a digital product is similar to building a house in many ways. And such parallels seem especially obvious when we talk about product management and product development. Product management is close to planning and managing construction while product development is similar to the construction process itself.

But enough metaphors! As a product design company, we at Eleken work directly with both product management and product development. So in this article, we will break down and visualize these concepts, talk about their differences, product management, and product development responsibilities and roles.  

What is product management?

Image source: https://www.residencestyle.com/

Product management is a strategic process of managing the creation of a product. 

It's a holistic process that encompasses all aspects of a product, from conception to delivery and post-launch support. In other words, product management is responsible for ensuring that a product is successfully built and launched and meets the needs of its target market.

Product management role is often defined as the intersection of business, user experience, and tech. Its main goal is maximizing the potential of a product. This means that the product nager is responsible for overseeing the entire life cycle of the product, from ideation to post-launch analysis and refinement. 

To achieve this goal product managers work with teams of engineers, designers, and marketers to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered and that the final product will be of high quality, meets customer needs, and delivers good business results.

As we can see in the visual model above, the product management process is multifunctional and keeps an eye on different aspects of product creation and performance at the same time. It is the ongoing management of the product and its life cycle. Product management’s responsibility is seeing the big picture, making strategic decisions, and aligning the product team toward the main goal: a stunning product.

Some people may wonder: is product management a part of product development? Let’s explore product development to answer this question.  

What is product development?

Image source: https://www.letsbuild.com/

Product development takes the product from idea to final solution step by step. The process is focused on designing, building, and testing the solution. 

Simply put, product development is the process of creating a new product or service. It begins with an idea and then moves on to research, prototyping, design, execution, and testing. 

Once the product is finalized, it goes into production and then deployed. The product development role is crucial for creating a product that meets customer needs and exceeds their expectations. 

Goals and main deliverables of product management and development define their main responsibilities.

Product management vs product development: main responsibilities

As you already know, product management is a highly strategic process. That’s why its responsibilities are analytical and strategic by nature: creating product roadmap, strategy, defining product requirements, analyzing product performance and aligning the team around product goals.  

Product development is on the contrary, a structured step-by-step process that takes the product from point A (idea) to point (B) launch. So its main responsibilities are focused on creating the working product. That includes defining the product, creating and testing its prototype, UX and UI design, building and launching a working version of the product. 

Such differences between product development and product management responsibilities lead to very different approaches to tasks. Product managers focus on strategizing, prioritizing, planning, setting goals, and product knowledge base. So, in their work they rely on roadmapping templates, product management tools, brainstorming strategies and documentation tools.

Product development team builds a product itself from creating a concept to working version, organizing the creative process and execution into iterations. They break down the scope into clear steps and test the results. That’s why, apart from design and prototype and code editors, designers and developers rely on task trackers and user testing tools.   

Different responsibilities and approach to work of both processes determine the setup of the product team. 

Product management and product development roles

Product management roles typically include product owner or product manager. On the bigger projects, it’s both. Some teams have dedicated UX researchers or several product managers. Regardless the set-up, the product management team works closely with the product development team.

The product development team, depending on the size of the company or the product the team is building, can be bigger or smaller. In general, a product development team should consist of a product or UX/UI designer and developer plus a product manager. But usually, product development team consists of several designers and software developers. 

What makes effective product management and product development

There are many factors that determine the success of both processes: setting the right goals and deadlines, size and skill level of your product team, other resources.

You should also keep an eye on various metrics that allow you to measure the effectiveness of your product management and product development processes.

Effective product management lies on three pillars:

1) Ensures that your product meets customer needs
2) Pursues the product’s business goals
3) Allows the team to develop and deliver the product efficiently

An effective product development process allows:

1) To efficiently build a high-quality product.
2) Create the look and feel of the product
3) Deliver tech implementation of the idea, which is a ready-made product

In the software world, product development and product management are two essential concepts that work together and create products that solve users’ pains.

I’m sure that by this point you noticed that design is a big part of product development and product management concepts. 

Product management vs product development: the role of design

No doubt that by now you see that design is deeply incorporated into both product management and product development. Both concepts do interact with the design, but from different perspectives. Product management is responsible for the overall product strategy, defining user needs, and setting goals for the product design. Product development focuses on solution delivery which implies prototyping, designing, and testing a product.

Product management, design, and engineering are the three main pillars of the product. 

In the software world, this triad model is the most effective when it comes to delivering outstanding digital products. At Eleken we rely on the same model and work hand in hand with product managers and lead developers throughout the whole product design process

If you want to enrich your product team with a designer experienced in close collaboration of product management and product development, drop us a line.

Product design
min read

Our experience of designing a HIPAA-compliant referral management system

A few months ago Eleken started working with Refera, an electronic referral management system that helps dentists connect their patients with specialists. That is when we discovered a whole world of healthtech and found out that this kind of software requires a special approach in design.

Building a referral management system is not as easy as it may seem. Although our agency did not design it from scratch, we would like to share some valuable insights from this project.

But let's start with the basics, first.

What is a referral management system?

Patient referrals happen when a general doctor wants a patient to see a specialist, an ophthalmologist, for example. Referral management systems, or RMS, simplify the process of transferring all the patients’ data from one doctor/hospital to another, and help schedule an appointment.

Referral management systems need to synchronize data from different EHR (electronic health records) systems and comply with national standards of sensitive patient health information protection, also known as HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). 

Some examples of these systems are par8o, Equipo, Docman RMS. Our experience with electronic referral management systems started when Refera, an app created specifically for dentists. The company asked us to redesign their website.

Refera landing page

What are the challenges of RMS design?

When we started working with Refera, the whole world of healthtech was kind of a challenge for us: it is full of regulations, and the software has to take into account the needs of all stakeholders, including patients, doctors, and medical institutions. And the level of responsibility is higher, too.

Design for an electronic referral management system requires deep research in the field. In this article, we would like to get beyond the standard research-design-prototype-test process and focus on the challenges that are specific to this type of software, so that you know what to expect. (By the way, we have an article about UX challenges in general healthcare that might be worth your attention).

So, there is a system that connects patients with the doctors they need. Patients are interested in seeing a doctor, doctors are interested in getting an appointment. What can go wrong?

We were surprised to find out that a study from 2009 showed that about half of the referrals don’t result in a successful appointment. Seems like a lot, right? What is more, less than 25% of referrals are completed as intended by the sending provider. From the UX professional’s point of view, these numbers are really low, and, I guess, from healthcare professionals’ point of view as well.

Some of the failed referrals may be due to personal reasons: people change plans, choose other doctors or simply freak out. Yet, the percentage of failed referrals can be decreased by simplifying the process and improving user experience. This is one of the main objectives of electronic referral management systems.

It felt good to realize that by making software efficient and usable we don’t only make doctors’ workflow simpler, but also increase the number of patients who get to the right specialist. Projects in healthcare are challenging, yet rewarding.

Here are the main challenges we discovered during our work on the medical referral management system:


In essence, electronic referral management software is an intermediary: it unites general doctors, patients, and specialist doctors; it connects different medical offices, hospitals, and electronic health records systems. For this software, integrations are not just a nice bonus: it is the key element.

When we talk about designing a HIPAA-compliant referral management system, we can’t really say that we just “build it from scratch”. Here, we have to first study what data is already used in different EMRs and how we can connect existing electronic systems. And sometimes connecting already existing pieces is harder than just creating a new database.

In case of Refera, integration with practice management software is included only in the premium version: this is an element that makes the patient management cycle complete.


In a product that connects hospitals, doctors, patients, and keeps their medical records, a functional database is paramount. RMS software has to unify all the different ways of entering data (for example, a phone number can be written in different ways).

After that comes the updating of the information. For successful functioning, it has to be decentralized. Each office has to be able to change data that is relevant to them and their patients.

Efficient scheduling

Scheduling an appointment is one of the key elements of the referral process. This is another hard task of integrating different scheduling systems that dentists use into one. And what is more important, keeping it up-to-date so that appointments will be scheduled correctly.

Don’t forget about keeping track of the referrals. It is a good idea to send a reminder to a patient who did not follow the referral. General doctors need to see how the process of medical assistance went after the referral. For example, in dental offices, back referral is needed only in 5% of cases, but all doctors want to know whether their patients received good care afterwards.

How to design an electronic referral management system. Eleken experience

Research phase

Every design process should start with the research. For such a narrow niche as electronic referral management, it is highly important to talk in person to people who will be using the system. It’s not that easy to catch a busy healthcare professional for a one-on-one talk, but this is the crucial information for the project we're talking about. If you're interested to learn more, check out our short guide on how to talk to users.


If the research was done properly, the ideas of app structure will be there already. If it’s a referral management system, we need a “create a referral” screen, but what else? Let’s take a closer look at Refera. 

There is the Insights screen that shows the list of referrals showing the status of each of them, along with general statistics on referrals’ success. General dentists can see a list of specialists with referral statuses.

Refera Insights screen

The app looks different for general dentists and other specialists. The latter have the OpReports screen, where they can send the results of the appointment back to the general dentist to keep track of the treatments.

Refera Create Op Report screen

Notice a little visual detail that makes dentist referral easier: to indicate the tooth that went through treatment, a doctor just needs to click on the image of the oral cavity instead of entering the number of the tooth manually.

Designing for all stakeholders

When creating the system architecture and designing user interface, it is obvious that you need to focus on the needs of doctors, as they would be the ones interacting with the app directly. However, it is important to think of patients, too, as they are no less valuable.

For example, Refera does not just give the information about the specialist they are referred to. A patient receives a message with the time and place of the appointment. They don’t even need to bring an X-ray or other documents: it is all sent automatically. By simplifying referral process on the patient side, referral management systems get to improve a key metric: referral success rate.

Keeping the data consistent

We have already mentioned that functional databases are one of the most important things in referral management solutions. Another challenge related to data is bringing together information from different systems. This is all about small things like the way addresses are written, situations when one doctor works in a few dentist offices, and so forth. And even more important is the  regular data update, so that a patient wouldn’t be sent to a doctor who is not available.

To ensure proper data management, work of both developers and designers helps to avoid confusion.

User interface for healthtech. Design tips

There are many arguments for and against using trendy design in functional apps, but with healthcare, things are clear. No need to be a psychologist to understand that people prefer simple and classic interface rather than flashy and complex one when they want to schedule a doctor’s appointment.

  • It is vital for a referral management system to evoke trust in patients, and people trust real persons who look professional. That is why we replaced flat illustrations with real pictures of doctors. Illustrations would work great in fintech or edutech, but healthcare asks for a different approach.
Before and after: Referral landing page redesign
  • As we know, colors influence emotions and evoke specific associations. That is why, most healthcare websites and apps would have blue color in visuals: it signals calmness. For Refera, we went for green, which is associated with medicine since old times. For the accent color, a contrasting hue can be used (we chose orange). 

Flashy neon colors and complex gradients are not the best choices for healthcare software. Here is another example of an app related to healthcare and work safety that we designed: the interface is in neutral hues of blue.

Haven diagnostics healthtech design
Haven diagnostics. Design by Eleken
  • Use animations only when necessary. This is a rule of thumb for every simple and minimalist interface. Actually, we prefer functional animation in other types of apps, too.
  • There is no place for jokes in medical applications, so we recommend using a neutral tone in UX writing. On the other hand, some medical terms and language-specific words for medical documents should be simplified when possible, especially in an interface that is aimed at patients. However, many doctors would appreciate short and easy-to-read text as well.

You can read more about when to use trendy design in our article on UI/UX trends.

Final thoughts

Working with HIPAA-Compliant electronic referral management systems requires a lot of attention to details, regulations, privacy, and ethics. Here we have unveiled just a cap of one of the icebergs floating in the ocean flooded with healthtech projects.

Want to get a personalized consultation regarding your SaaS product in healthcare? Contact us!

Don't want to miss anything?

Get weekly updates on the newest design stories, case studies and tips right in your mailbox.


Your email has been submitted successfully. Check your email for first article we’ve sent you.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Don't want to miss anything?

Get weekly updates on the newest design stories, case studies and tips right in your mailbox.


Your email has been submitted successfully. Check your email for first article we’ve sent you.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.