A woman is standing on a city sidewalk using her smartphone to conduct a mobile banking transaction.
November 17, 2020

A mobile app refresh whose time has arrived

The new navigation feature of Wells Fargo’s mobile banking app simplifies access to the most common transactions for customers — many who became new adopters during the pandemic.

With mobile banking usage soaring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wells Fargo has picked a timely moment to introduce a refresh of its mobile banking app’s navigation. 

The company plans a rollout to customers on Nov. 17, six weeks after introducing the new feature to employees as part of final development and testing. 

Though it began long before COVID-19 hit, the work to improve the navigation took on a greater sense of urgency amid the surge of new mobile banking customers during the pandemic. Mobile deposits in April alone soared 81%, and digital sign-ons rose 21% in the second quarter, according to Wells Fargo data. In addition, many mobile banking customers were trying more features that they may not have used in the past, making it more critical to have easy and intuitive navigation.

Even apart from COVID-19, designers said the time had come for a refresh of what historically has been one of the industry’s top apps for customers on the go. More recently, however, Wells Fargo’s mobile app fell to 10th in J.D. Power’s annual rankings released in June.

“With more people using the mobile app, the urgency did increase for our work on the refresh,” said Kaaren Hanson, Wells Fargo’s head of experience design and research. “But frankly, there was already clearly room for improvement, and we needed to raise the bar to give our customers a better experience.”

Beginning in late 2019, the company’s product and design teams worked alongside 650 customers on different design versions, and technology teams used the feedback as a guide in creating the user-friendly improvements. The result: a refresh that looks cleaner, navigates easier, and allows customers to get their banking done quicker.

“The redesigned navigation will help customers make payments, manage and service their accounts, and update their personal information more quickly and successfully,” said Katherine McGee, head of Wells Fargo’s digital channels.

It was invaluable for the project team to make customer feedback a key part of development, said Amol Sapatnekar, head of digital experience engineering for Wells Fargo.

“We know our customers have many priorities and options,” he said. “Our intent is to make the mobile experience the easiest to use and the most efficient way to bank with us.”

The refresh also helps Wells Fargo remain competitive. “A neatly designed app with a user-friendly interface offers just as many benefits to the banks as they do for its customers, including better customer satisfaction, more organized workflow, and promotional opportunities,” Mobile App Daily reported in March.

What makes the difference

Wells Fargo’s former mobile banking navigation menu had two screens, which often made for longer transaction times. Use the slider to compare the old menu (left) with the new menu (right), which streamlines all options in a single, uncluttered screen, with a navigation bar at the bottom that has the most used features.

Combined into one photo, Wells Fargo’s former mobile banking app menu screen is on the left and the new one is the right. A bar between the screens slides to the right to reveal the former screen and slides to the left to reveal the new one. Combined into one photo, Wells Fargo’s former mobile banking app menu screen is on the left and the new one is the right. A bar between the screens slides to the right to reveal the former screen and slides to the left to reveal the new one.
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What test customers said in the app ‘lab’

“It makes sense, because as I’m looking at the bottom emblems, these ARE the most common things I do with my banking, and everything else can be over here in the menu.”
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“I love those options! To me, the graphics and the wording is really helpful. Some apps have one or the other, and it can be slightly confusing. I like how clear the images are. The number of buttons is good. Not tons and tons.”
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“Keep this navigation bar on every page as much as possible. I like having it there at all times. Means one click vs. several clicks to get to transactions or to the homepage.”
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One click away from service

The new bottom navigation bar follows you on every page. It provides one tap access to common tasks wherever the customer is at in their mobile banking navigation.

Five icons are shown to help guide customers to the transactions they need to do. The icons include a house for Accounts, dollar sign for Transfer, two arrows for Zelle, a rectangle for Deposit, and three red lines for Menu.