Case study: Belfius UX team improves efficiency through design and development
Through its mobile and online platforms the bank and insurance company Belfius reaches millions of Belgian customers. To continuously guarantee and further improve the quality of these platforms, the Belfius UX team has developed a design system which allows developers and designers to work more closely than ever, boosting the efficiency of the design process and shortening the time to market of online and mobile platform updates. Belfius can now respond faster to customer needs and continue to provide the user experience its customers have come to appreciate. At the helm of creating this design system was Jelle Desramaults, introduced to Belfius by digital consultancy and recruitment company Ariad.
As a 100% Belgian bank and insurance company, Belfius offers a full range of banking and insurance products to retail customers, small and medium sized enterprises, public institutions, non-profit organisations and large corporates all over the country. With a client penetration of 30%, one in every three Belgians is a Belfius customer.
Ensuring a quality user experience for these customers, is in no small part the responsibility of the Belfius UX team. With eight UX-designers, UI-designers, service-designers and a usability-tester, it sees to the design of quality online and mobile application digital user experiences. The team is led by Katsuyuki Nagatani, who supports the team and overviews all running projects with an eye for consistency and efficiency.
Part of the Belfius UX team is consultant and senior UI/UX and visual designer Jelle Desramaults. Over the past 18 months he has taken the lead in developing a design system which involves a toolbox of different UI/UX building blocks that bring uniformity and efficiency to development and design. It’s based on atomic design to create a system of pieces that can come together to create elements and templates we can reuse over and over again. This toolbox or design system, allows for better alignment between developers and designers, which eventually is beneficial for the user experience.
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Focus on added value
“The way we move from design to development has changed a lot,” says UX lead Katsuyuki Nagatani. “Briefing developers used to involve a lot of work and each time it seems we had to reinvent the wheel. By virtue of our shared understanding of what we need and where we’re going, we are turning this around succeeding in avoiding delays due to documentation over buttons, forms etc. A developer now saves half an hour per week for every other analyst, developer or designer, which is a significant cost reduction if you add it all up.”
But more importantly, the design system allows the UX team to free up time. “We can now focus more on tasks that effectively add value to our platforms with new features and better support. This boost in efficiency opens doors for innovation and raising the bar ever higher in terms of the user experience. Our goal is to shorten the time to market of our platforms through optimising our design process. Eventually I hope that by doing so we can match the agility of smaller financial players and challengers.”
"Hybrid profiles such as his are the way forward. I find it very important that a designer can put himself in the shoes of a developer and vice versa."
Jelle’s role didn’t really exist before at Belfius. Prior to his arrival there was quite a strong separation between design and development--while in fact, they should come together. “On any app or website what you see and how it works go hand in hand,” says Katsuyuki. “As a former front-end developer, Jelle is capable of really connecting with our developers. He understands their needs and issues and thus sees what’s needed to bring about a close cooperation with the design team. He truly is the link between both. Hybrid profiles such as his are the way forward. I find it very important that a designer can put himself in the shoes of a developer and vice versa, although the latter is not so easy.”
Specialised design profiles
The fact that Jelle is the right person for the job can also be credited to the experience and expertise of Ariad, specialising in temporary and permanent staffing of digital professionals. “What our UX team does is niche but Ariad succeeds in finding truly specialised design professionals,” says UX lead Katsuyuki Nagatani.
Furthermore, Ariad makes the selection process as easy as possible. “Their CVs are clear and always include previous work. That may sound obvious, but it makes selecting designers more convenient when you get a feel for their portfolio. To no surprise we are happy with Jelle and we are looking forward to continuing our collaboration. The same can be said of UX/UI designer Sven and mobile product designer Penney, who were also introduced by Ariad.”
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