Tablet Banking

Design and usability for functionality-heavy tablet apps

Activity in the tablet channel is now starting to pick up momentum after a quieter start to the year. Our research into ten leading tablet offerings in the Tablet Banking Dashboard has revealed some unique new approaches to navigation within the apps.

First of all, USAA has incorporated a “Wallet” section into the main banking app. Whilst we usually see banks choosing a standalone app when adding this much functionality, USAA has instead chosen to simplify the navigation in the main app through the use of 3 modes. These modes allow customers to switch between the different functions of the app: “USAA”, “Wallet” and “Help”. Although there is as much functionality as would normally feature in a standalone app, this navigation strategy makes the app feel much less complex than it should, based on the amount of content included. Both strategies for standalone apps as well as for integrated content in the main app have challenges.

Whilst a standalone app may increase touchpoints with the customer, it will require more marketing and create a somewhat fragmented user experience. These are more popular in certain markets, such as Spain, where the standalone Wallet/card management apps are especially popular, with the big banks encouraging their customers to have two apps. As well as incorporating a large number of new features, USAA has also merged their mobile and tablet app so that the look, feel and core functions are the same across both channels, yet the apps also make use of the different screen sizes.

USAA Tablet App

The BBVA tablet app has also been updated in the last quarter. Whilst the design is similar to that of the mobile app, and this is important to provide a good sense of familiarity for the brand, there are adjustments to the tablet app and certain functionality differences. This results in an engaging tablet experience that complements the mobile one yet makes use of the larger screen. One of our favourite features from BBVA is the “I Want” tab. This offers an intuitive way to navigate, with different options appearing in the menu depending on the function. It also adds a minimalist appeal to the screen, and de-clutters the nested navigation, which now only includes links to “Contact” and “About the app”.


Designing the app for the user to be able to complete their intended task with minimum effort is essential in banking; it should not feel like a chore. The contextualised “I Want” tab is intuitive and fast. It allows customers to complete the task quickly whilst in the moment, without being distracted by other options in an extended menu.

Insight into the most popular functionality when using a tablet app comes from a press release from Danske Bank, which was released to coincide with their first Android tablet app release earlier this year. The top five features were:

  • Transfer money
  • Pay bills
  • My Overview – PFM tool categorising and visualising your income and spend
  • Buy/sell stocks and view price developments
  • Send and receive secure messages to/from your personal advisor

Understanding the behaviour of customers when using an app will help to increase usability. Danske Bank use a tile based approach for their pre-login interface to allow customers to access their most regularly used features quickly and easily. This style of navigation is exclusive to the Dankse Bank tablet app and is not used for mobile. This usable interface is an important part of the success of such an app when, as with USAA and BBVA, a lot of functionality is fitted in.

As more and more features become available in mobile and tablet banking apps and as these channels gain popularity over desktop, we expect to see more innovative ways of optimising navigation to organise this amount of functionality without making it seem too crowded.

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