Standard Chartered Private Bank : Overcomplicating selection

Alternate ways to browse a document library elaborate what should be a simple process.

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The Site

Standard Chartered Private Bank, the wealth management arm of Singapore-based financial services group Standard Chartered, invests too much invention in a document selection tool. The Investor’s Lounge section of the bank’s website consists of a single Reports & Commentaries page that offers a ‘news and views’ document library. The content can be browsed and selected via a 'cover flow' style display or a dropdown menu, which is positioned under the display and labelled as an alternative to it (‘Or please select… from the menu below’). The 'cover flow' display shows a stack of five panels, with one brought to the fore to be viewed. Users may shuffle the stack to see other panels via navigation arrows at the left and right. Clicking a panel reveals a list of PDFs that can be downloaded on further click. The dropdown menu offers the full set of PDFs, under the same categories that the five panels represent, but in a fixed-size window that shows only five titles and must be scrolled to browse the full range. The cover flow and dropdown menu are synchronised to a degree. For example, the category visible in the dropdown corresponds to and changes with the choice of ‘cover flow’ panel, and vice versa.

The Takeaway

Standard Chartered Private Bank’s document library is not large, consisting of 23 PDFs in total in its five categories, but far from being quick and easy to browse it presents investors with an unnecessary challenge. Not only does it offer two ways of navigating a single index, but neither is particularly efficient as executed. The ‘cover flow’ view is inappropriate in the context, showing off the technology at the expense of usability, and imposes sequential browsing. The dropdown is also problematic, requiring extensive scrolling to grasp the organisation of the list or browse the titles. The synchronisation of the two adds extra complexity and potential for confusion. There is nothing obvious to be gained – for users – from running two tools for such a basic task where one would do. That along with the animated ‘cover flow’ device is overkill, creating a system more complicated and time consuming than it should be. A more conventional approach such as a simple list of links, a tabbed menu or expandable previews would allow users to get quickly to the documents that interest them, which is the whole point.
First published 21 June, 2012
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