I was reminded of the different ways that companies provide digital experiences when doing online banking for my mom and again when visiting the bank yesterday. Watching the customer service agent labour through several complex screens to order a new card for my account brought home how consumers are made to digitally engage with businesses. Trying to navigate the security features that persistently ask for verification, even for an action that I’m told “is not allowed,” is frustrating to the extreme.

On the one hand, consumers have been exposed to the “revolutionary design” of digital engagement, with the use of gestures on touch-enabled devices famously made popular in the movie Minority Report in 2002 and introduced to the masses by Apple. The iPhone’s arrival in 2007 hailed the era of gestures. Small swipe and rotation gestures were expanded in later models to include more expressive gestures that enacted the choice made by the user.

This revolutionary new way of engaging users with gestures sparked a dramatic change in how consumers worldwide experienced engagement with devices (and therefore with the companies behind the devices).

Figure1: Detail about Apple’s patent for touch device using gestures

On the other end of the spectrum, consumers are still confronted with multiple screens of text, menus, widgets and icons that offer a different and mostly complex experience. It’s almost as if the designers have not figured out that gesture-driven engagement has completely changed consumer’s expectations regarding digital experience.

The two worlds are so far apart that one wonders why consumers are not speaking out about this dichotomy more loudly. Have we accepted that banking, for example, is so far behind on the experience scale that we will not complain until there is something really different? Is it because all banks are equally “bad” when it comes to experience that we accept it, or is it that we are comfortable with a completely dumbed-down experience when it comes to an environment that we expect to be very secure?

It’s fascinating to think through the possibilities behind the “lack of” consumer complaint. For myself, I am swayed by the need for security when it comes to online banking. I will accept many things, but what is unacceptable is for the app to take me through a verification process for an action that I am not allowed to perform. That, quite frankly, is intolerable and very bad experience design.

The time will come when experience will dictate where consumers choose to interact. And whether this involves only more of the simple types of interaction using gestures or more complicated ones such as points and clicks, it will be driven by consumer behaviour and where they choose to spend their money.