Andy McKay

Jun 27, 2006

Banks, what are they typing?

Sometimes I do a bank transaction at a teller. I know even saying that seems wierd nowadays, I’ve lived with cash machines as long as I can remember but going to a bank, speaking to a person and do a transaction is a rarity. And then, its for setting up something for web access.

So I give them my card and say I want to do something simple, set up bill payment, get some foreign currency. What follows next is a flurry of typing that would put the average emacs using developer to shame. What on earth are they doing? Writing out my life history? They seem to be going through an insane number of screens containing everything in the world (on the odd occasion I’ve been able to see).

Ok, so that’s odd, but what I find I really odd is the simple principle of the less buttons people press, the less mistakes occur. If I was designing an interface for lots of people to use (read tellers) I would be focusing on making easy and fast and one of the key ways to do that is not to have the teller type in a large amount of information. This is easy and glib to say when I’m not designing it and a mere mortal like me can only shudder at the hideously complicated historical complexities in such an application. But c’mon, a 10 minute keyboard hammering to set up a bill payment? Something has to be terribly wrong with this system.