Case Study

Redefining Search

Redefining Search

Santander Group Bank

Deliverables

User Interviews User Testing Experience design UI Design Interaction Design Prototyping

Project Team

Jake White, Account Manager - Squiz Sonia Pitton, Project Manager - Squiz Donna Moore, Digital Team - Santander Adam Towell, Digital Team - Santander

Overview

For a number of years, Squiz have powered Santander’s search experience using our prestigious ‘Funnelback’ product. Funnelabck is an industry leading search tool that uses advanced machine learning to to deliver personalised, engaging search results and content analytics. Squiz recognised significant areas of improvement within Santanders search global search experience as well as their SERP, and delivered substantial UX improvements. An important part of our research was to ensure that every projection, no matter what scale, was driven by data & statistics to offer measurable assurance within key figures of the Santander digital team.

For a number of years, Squiz have powered Santander’s search experience using our prestigious ‘Funnelback’ product. Funnelabck is an industry leading search tool that uses advanced machine learning to to deliver personalised, engaging search results and content analytics. Squiz recognised significant areas of improvement within Santanders search global search experience as well as their SERP, and delivered substantial UX improvements. An important part of our research was to ensure that every projection, no matter what scale, was driven by data & statistics to offer measurable assurance within key figures of the Santander digital team.

For a number of years, Squiz have powered Santander’s search experience using our prestigious ‘Funnelback’ product. Funnelabck is an industry leading search tool that uses advanced machine learning to to deliver personalised, engaging search results and content analytics. Squiz recognised significant areas of improvement within Santanders search global search experience as well as their SERP, and delivered substantial UX improvements. An important part of our research was to ensure that every projection, no matter what scale, was driven by data & statistics to offer measurable assurance within key figures of the Santander digital team.

The Brief

As a part of their Funneback Search retainer package, I worked with Santander incrementally in analysing search performance, using data to inform potential innovation.

Within a recent squad catchup, I presented Santander with search data informed by their Funnelback dashboard (which I'm unable to include here) that showcased the increased use of pagination, drop-off, and contact page referral midway through a search.

The data in hand was a clear indicator of a pain point, and one that the digital transformation team received a very quick green light to work with Squiz in actioning at pace.

The Problem

Working with a globally recognised organisation of course brings very strict rules as you would expect. Upon meeting with Santander's digital team in a kick-off meeting, we collaborated to lay out clear project expectations, to discuss what success would look like, and to obtain key content and access to asset banks.

Santander delivered key design boundaries that were as followed:

  • Squiz must use and adhere to the Santander Group design system (delivered as an invision link).

  • Whilst they recognised flaws in areas of the UI kit, the request was to use current design patterns unless a particular component doesn't exist in their design system. This is to maintain a lean build time and remove the need for walls of sign off on adding new patterns to their repository.

  • Provide multi-orientation, multi-viewport considerations.

  • Create a clickable prototype for moderated testing purposes.

  • Ensure designs are delivered within a handover environment for technical analysis.

Competitor Analysis

I conducted and compiled a competitor analysis document to analyse how Santander's key competitors approach the search. The idea was to study what they did well, learn from what they didn't do so well, and brainstorm how we can land on an industry leading solution.

Research Synthesis

I facilitated a workshop with the Santander digital team to dissect the data we have from a backlog of feedback forms (fed into a google spreadsheet to populate a product performance dashboard).

To highlight key research findings across all user types and aid in our decision-making, we utilised empathy mapping. This helped us make inferences about our users based on their behaviour, prioritise where our focus laid, and determine what the most important takeaways were.

Our top takeaways were:

  • Users searching for banking information often lost interest and resorted to contacting

  • Santander via telephone, where they'd wait in a telephone queue for a decent chunk of time.

  • Users felt the search engine results page was ineffective and dated.

  • Users would often venture no further than the 2nd tier of pagination before dropping out.

  • Business account users would rely on site search more than any other user type.


Our core users were:

  1. Personal account holders

  2. Select account holders

  3. Business account holders

Solution

Based on the insights and data gathered, I worked with Santander and Funnelbacks technical team in engineering solutions that could immediately enhance the user experience. We produced an insights report that informed our solutions mind map, and arrived at the following:

Improved Global Search Module
Create an advanced search concierge module to effectively reduce the number of steps in the user search journey. The module should include auto-completion to assist the speed ion which information is presented, and to aid mis-spelling. Improved search categorisation to help first time and return users search by department or category.

Improved SERP Filtering
Implement an advanced filter on the SERP (search engine results page) to dramatically reduce the reliance on pagination. Include top level, collapsable categories and departments for complex result sorting.

Conceptualisation

To articulate our suggestions, I created multiple wireframes (low to mid fidelity) to amplify our solutions. This process enabled me to absorb and action requests made by the project team at pace.

Design Patterns

The Santander design system was documented in Invision, and like many design systems consistently in evolution. As previously explained, in order to reduce the amount of pushback and increase build efficiency in the form of time it was imperative that I adhered to the Santander Design System as strictly as possible.

As I'm unable to present examples of the extensive Santander Design System documentation, below is a short example of some of the brand and design assets utilised:

Final Design

After receiving executive sign off on the added functionality, I created high-fidelity mockups to articulate how the new modules would sit within the existing framework.

We carefully analysed the relationship between the newer modules within the existing framework, and how cohesively they adapt. Amidst the creation of work, it was raised that a lot of the existing UI kit required a makeover from both a visual and a UX perspective.

The necessity to enhance the UI kit and design patterns brought Santander to a place where they would need to stage the application of the works in correlation with a design system makeover. In keeping with this, we prioritised the application of the filter module and left the rest of the innovation work with Santander to launch strategically in accordance with their roadmap.

Feedback

Off the back of vetting the designs and interactive prototypes created, we immediately stepped into the build phase to enable us to put the enhancements in front of Santander users. Due to the fact that changes to the interface weren't wholesale, we felt the greatest value from testing would be received when built and using real data in a test environment.


Improved Global Search Module

We presented users a script and two links. One link to the current Santander site, and one to the test environment. We asked users to search for two pieces of information and documented the journeys. We received some notable findings, but quick learned that the search module in the global nav was not prominent enough. To amend this was not in the budget or scope of works at this level, but this supported our case for a design system update further. Feedback included:

  • ✅ "I found information about the current account without being sent to the search page."

  • ✅ "I liked that I only needed to type in a couple of letters before the exact page I wanted was presented as an option."

  • ✅ "I felt assisted throughout."

  • ⛔️ "I felt distracted by the results changing as I typed."

  • ⛔️ "I prefer the first link as there is less going on."


    Improved SERP Filter

    We once again presented users a script and two links. The first link being the existing Santander website, and the second link being the test environment to the proposed SERP (without including the new search module). We again learned that users lost a little trust and engagement in the UI on the SERP due to a dated aesthetic. Feedback included:

  • ✅ "I enjoyed being able to narrow down my results to just a couple of options."

  • ✅ "I struggled to find anything on current account on the first link within going to the third page. I found it much quick using the filter on the second."

  • ⛔️ "The cards on the second link felt a little old and crammed."

  • ⛔️ "The page feels a bit dated on both."

Takeaways

We quickly found technical solutions to fix a laboured user experience through understanding Santanders users and competitors at an early stage. We also met multiple points of reflection surrounding how users welcome current design patterns and the general aesthetic of the Santander website.

Squiz's relationship with Santander exists solely through search (the Squiz Funnelback product), but we were able to deliver evidence that other elements of the website that weren't in the scope of the project play a big role in how search is received. Using this information, Santanders digital transformation team carried takeaways that could inform the beginning of a wholesale design system update.

Using the Funnelback search analytics dashboard, Santander recorded dramatic improvements in how users discovered important information, and we continue to monitor the results to date.