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UX Teardown: TransferWise Money Transfer Service (9.2 of 10)

by Markus Pirker on April 16, 2018 –


Sending money abroad online is now easier than ever, but how simple is it really?

In order to answer this question, Userbrain is currently carrying out an in-depth benchmarking study, analyzing the user experience of sending money online with TransferWise and nine other leading providers.

In collaboration with Monito, the leading comparison website for international money transfer services, we are evaluating over 50 usability videos of first-time users testing an online money transfer solution.

Every week, we will be releasing the highlights of our analysis of a new provider, in a series of blog posts leading up to the publication of our full report which you can pre-order for free through the link below.

FREE report: UX Teardown of 10 Money Transfer Services

Get the full tear-down of the user experience of TransferWise and 9 other leading online money transfer companies in our full report, to be published in the coming weeks:

What we’d like to know about TransferWise

We want to learn everything we can about the actual user experience of TransferWise. In detail we’re looking for answers to these questions:

  • What do people think of TransferWise’s homepage and is the purpose of the service clear for first-time users?
  • How easy is it to open an account with TransferWise?
  • Can users set-up a money transfer in another currency to a foreign country and what are possible road-blockers?
  • Are users of TransferWise able to figure out how much their transfer will cost and how long it will take?

How we’re recruiting our test participants

We’re using the panel of the online usability service Userbrain to acquire our testers, automatically send them the task scenario and let them record their tests on their own devices in their familiar environment.

As we’re looking to evaluate the first time experience of people, we only use testers who haven’t used the site before and test the Desktop version of the site.

The task scenario we’re using for TransferWise

Usability testing is easy and you’ll get valuable insights even if you’re doing it for the first time. You can do almost everything wrong – as long as you get your tasks right your usability testing will always work.

Here’s the task scenario we’re using to evaluate the user experience of TransferWise:

Imagine you live in the United Kingdom and need to send around £250 to a friend who lives in France as a wedding gift.

Your friend sent you his bank account details (the IBAN) and the money should be received in the local currency (EUR).

You want to send the money online, and after researching options for your transfer, you arrive on this website.

If you’re just getting started with writing your own usability task scenarios, here’s a short list of rules to write useful task scenarios:

  • Avoid giving clues in the scenario. Don’t use uncommon or unique words used in your website or app. Testers will scan the screen to find these words and you won’t get many insights about the usability of your website.
  • Write in a clear, understandable, and easy to follow way. Write the way you talk and don’t try to sound scientific or academic.
  • Pre-test your tasks with colleagues or friends to make sure they are easy to understand and people really know what you want them to do.
  • Trim any detail that’s not absolutely necessary. Your task scenarios should set a context and provide users with necessary details like a username or a special delivery address. Everything else is unnecessary.
  • Keep your task scenarios as short as possible and let testers figure out things for themselves.

Don’t forget: Provide fake data for your task scenario

Because transferring money is quite sensitive and people will be recorded using the site, we don’t ask our testers to provide real information.

Providing fake data in your task scenario makes sure that testers don’t need to spend valuable time figuring out which data passes the form validation of the registration.

Here is the dummy information we used for this task:

*** DUMMY PROFILE ***
Make up fake email adress, name and birthdate
You can use the following phone number: +44 3069 990333
And the following address : 21 Poland St, Soho, London W1F 8QG, UK

*** DUMMY RECIPIENT***
Make up fake name and email adresss for the recipient
You can use the following IBAN for the recipient’s bank account:
FR14 2004 1010 0505 0001 3M02 606

About the testers

We had 4 male testers using the site on their desktop devices. You wonder, why we’re running our study with 4 testers only? Learn more here.

So let’s get back to business and find answers to our questions:

What do people think of TransferWise’s homepage, is the purpose of the service clear?

The homepage of TransferWise does a good job of conveying the company’s value proposition: sending money at a better exchange rate. As the tagline of TransferWise „Send money with the real exchange rate“ is very prominently placed and a transaction calculator is right on the landing page testers immediately understood the purpose of the website. As a Userbrain tester puts it:

“The tagline really makes it clear what it is for, […] as it seems, it’s just a service to send money online to somebody else, they also exchange the currency for you […] it seems like a neat way to send money to somebody in a foreign land.”

However, a couple of testers overlooked the link “See how it works in 1 minute” leading to a “How it works“ video – we guess it’s because the light blue link has a very low contrast against the dark blue background.

Many users immediately started playing around with the calculator on the right to see how much they would receive for their transfer (and loved the upfront transparency about the fees and exchange rate).

Displaying the calculator as a very prominent feature on the homepage is a very smart move from TransferWise.

How easy is it to open an account with TransferWise?

Short answer: Very easy. Many of our testers were surprised by how easy it is to sign up with TransferWise. There are many ways to the signup page like in the header menu or and the action is emphasized with the wording „FREE“.

One tester says:

“I just had to type in my email and choose a password, and then directly I was in and could send my money straight away to somebody.”

TransferWise uses many smart features during signup like automatically completing city and postcode for the user after he fills out the required address field.

Can users set-up a money transfer in another currency to a foreign country and what are possible road-blockers?

Setting up a money transfer with TransferWise is very easy and you clearly see that TransferWise has invested a lot of time in optimizing the user experience of their website.

Watch the full experience of one of our testers setting up a money transfer with TransferWise:

As you can see, the process has been very straight forward for our tester. We just spotted 2 minor issues during our tests – all during the account registration process. The first question users need to answer to create an account is if they need it for “Personal” or “Business”. 2 steps later, the same question is asked again – this time for the type of the transfer. One tester was wondering:

“I thought I already kind of clicked on that”

As you can see, it really matters which words you use on your labels and headlines. Great interface design comes down to great copywriting. This issue could be resolved by adding a label like “This account is created for” to the first step of the signup process.

The only minor road-blocker, we could observe in our user tests is a verification process where users need to set a purpose for the usage of the TransferWise account. As an online service dealing with money, it’s  understandable that TransferWise needs to make sure that all transactions are safe – and there is great copy text explaining the reason for this process:

Are users of TransferWise able to figure out how much their transfer will cost and how long it will take?

All of our 4 testers were able to find out how much they would pay in fees for their transfer without any trouble.

The fees are first displayed on the calculator on the homepage, then on the first and last step of the transfer process.

Extra points for transparency

There is a consensus among our panel of users that the fees are fair. Some don’t understand how TransferWise is able to afford such low fees:

“I understand how the website works, maybe not the business model”.

TransferWise gets extra points for transparency with their comparison with other providers, which they also display when they aren’t the cheapest service:

“This probably isn’t the best advertisement right now. Western Union is cheaper!”

A great user experience overall

When asked if they would trust TransferWise with their money, most users said that TransferWise definitely looked trustworthy. All but one told us that they would need to do some research online before actually transferring money with TransferWise.

Just as some considered the sign-up process “too easy”, one user asked if TransferWise was too clean and modern to be trustworthy, stating that “it’s maybe too modern…. banks are looking more boring, it seems more secure when it’s more boring…”.

Having a phone number and a live chat on their contact page helped multiple testers feel confident that TransferWise is a secure option for their money transfers.

In the end, all our testers agreed that TransferWise provides a seamless and positive experience:

“Even for the fact that it was my first time visiting that website, I could figure it out very easily and I think that this is the best evidence that it is easy to transfer money on this website”

“All in all a very good design, very user-friendly, I really like it “

“It looks pretty good, I would recommend TransferWise.”

“I think it would be very easy to send money with TransferWise”

“I think it’s very easy to use TransferWise, it was pretty seamless, it was easy to understand what was happening, they make the fees really clear.”

Userbrain UX Rating

Want to know more about how we’re testing and which things influence the UX rating of this page? We’re just writing a post about our testing process and will release it soon.

Want to read more tear-downs like this one? Get the full teardown of the user experience of TransferWise and 9 other leading online money transfer companies in our full report, to be published in the coming weeks: Preorder the full UX study.

  • Ana

    Excellent initiative, Markus. Not only do the criticism but an evaluation supported by a complete process. Good one! I’m excited to see more of this series 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your feedback, Ana, there are many more to come. 🙂

  • Hi beetleguize,
    I’m really sorry about your bad experience. Unfortunately I can’t find your username in our system to check for the reason of your lack of tests. Could you please reach out to tester@userbrain.net and tell us the email you’ve used during signup? Thanks a lot, Markus