cu Reed Snider

Financial Website Usability Test

Working with a Fortune-100 company to assess the usability of their retirement savings withdrawal system for older populations.
March 2016

For one of my first projects working at the Bentley UXC I helped conduct a usability test on a desktop website for participants who were looking to complete a withdrawal from their retirement savings. I worked with Senior Usability Consultant Peter McNally to study 12 participants who came to the Bentley Usability Lab for the in-person usability test. The state-of-the-art lab at Bentley is equipped with two-way mirrors and hi-tech recording equipment.

My role was to moderate five of the twelve usability tests with our sample population and to then help analyze and provide recommendations for our client. I used the observed data to supplement the design improvement ideas I created using Photoshop and HTML/CSS. I also recorded notes for other moderators who helped complete the study.


We were presented with a working prototype from our clients who were looking to find the areas where users would get caught or confused within the process of withdrawing from their retirement savings account. Our participants were not allowed to call the help numbers via phone and instead were asked to use the tools available through the website to complete their tasks.

After finding the appropriate tasks to observe in the moderator's guide we created printed scenarios task cards for our participants to read and respond to during the study. These tasks were given in between two sets of interview questions relating to how the participant traditionally completes these types of transactions and how they felt about the challenges after completing the test. These questions yielded a variety of responses that helped influence the eventual design recommendations for the client.

One of the state-of-the-art usability labs at the Bentley User Experience Center

What We Found

  • Older populations (65+) are more likely to use the phone than a website to complete a financial transaction, preferring to call in to speak with a live agent.

  • This test revealed what sort of accommodations need to be made for older populations to increase their success rates of completing transactions online.

Design Recommendations

  • Ensure the contrast ratio is a minimum of 4.5:1, even for defaulted grey text
  • Use radio buttons to increase ease of use in selecting an option
  • Allow quick text enlargement buttons to increase text throughout the page
  • Minimize the number of options available to no more than three options
  • Increase the number of tooltips available throughout the process to help guide unfamiliar users

What I Learned

Working with a senior usability consultant I was able to gain insight on how to properly moderate a usability test in a formal lab setting. Extra effort is required to make participants feel at ease to ensure the results are representative and unbiased. I strengthened my ability to moderate as a neutral observer and to guide participants through tasks in timely manner.

Looking back, I am able to say that skills moderating older populations progressed throughout the study. My initial anxieties were soon alleviated after warming up with the more casual background questions we designed in our test. I used the feedback I received from our senior staff member after each test to continue to improve my tone and inquiry style.

  • Creating design solutions for older population (65+)
  • Assessing product requirements for financial software systems
  • Conducting usability sessions in-person, one-on-one, in a hi-tech lab setting
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