Atom Bank, in an effort to differentiate itself from its more traditional UK rivals, has chosen a highly visual interface for its newly launched Android app. However, this has been achieved at the expense of usability and ease of navigation.

Atom Bank has recently launched its Android app, through which customers on its waiting list can apply for the first of its products: a fixed-rate savings account with a choice of one or two-year terms. The new mobile-only bank has positioned itself as the antithesis of established high-street providers, and has adopted a friendly and informal approach. This philosophy has been extended to the first incarnation of its Android app, with somewhat mixed results.

On the plus side, the underlying savings products compare very favorably to the rest of the market. The two-year account, for example, offers a 2% interest rate, which is one of the highest on the market. The registration process is efficient, with ID checks and the capture of voice and facial image for biometric login being quick and painless. Security appears strong, with a five-digit PIN being required to initially access the app and biometric authentication needed as a secondary check when setting preferences for payment of interest.

However, the user experience is less than satisfactory. Firstly, from launching the app to being presented with the login screen takes an unacceptably long 20 seconds, with much of the delay caused by the deployment of animation which serves no useful purpose. Upon logging in, users are presented with an icon- and bubble-based interface (see left-hand screenshot below). Although this is visually striking, the lack of conventional text-based menus renders navigation an unintuitive experience that requires much guesswork on the user’s part.

Using the interface is frustrating, as the animations can be jerky and unresponsive. This is apparent when scrolling through the predicted interest screen, for example. This is a good feature in principle, but the bubble-based execution (see right-hand screen shot) is a very inefficient way of using the screen space, and a more compact configuration would avoid the need to scroll to view more than a few months ahead.

The app also hides the navigation bar for no apparent reason. This means that upon logging out, the user has to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the home and back buttons in order to exit the app. This is a further annoyance that detracts from the user experience.

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Overall, the app lacks credibility and appears frivolous. Consumers strongly favor well-known providers with established track records and good reputations. New entrants that lack these attributes have to work hard to convince prospective customers that they are a safe pair of hands. The first version of Atom Bank’s app fails to convince in this respect, and it is to be hoped that the next version prioritizes functionality over fun.