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Habañero Consulting Group Provides Next-Gen Usability Testing for Credit Union's Banking Products

User Experience Challenge

HabañeroCredit Union Central of British Columbia (CUCBC) ( is a trade association comprised of the province's 54 independent credit unions. CUCBC is the public face of a financial system that serves nearly 1.5 million members and holds over $29 billion in assets. CUCBC's role is to serve as a central banker, liquidity manager, and payments processor for the provincial credit union system.

Two key technology products that CUCBC offers participating institutions are a brandable public website, MemberConnect™, and an online banking application, MemberDirect® Online Services. MemberConnect is available to credit unions as a website in a box, and includes content management tools for updates and customizations. MemberDirect Online Services provides retail banking services.

Both products are hosted by CUCBC. In the past, they have not been fully integrated offerings, making it more difficult for Credit Unions to truly understand what their customers are doing on the Web. The challenge facing CUCBC was to integrate these two products so credit union customers would have a better online experience and credit unions would have a more compelling Web solution to help them win new customers and better service existing customers.

Morae Helps Consulting Firm Win Project Contract

CUCBC chose Vancouver-based Habañero Consulting Group as its partner for the user experience development and usability engineering phases of the integration project. The decision was based on Habañero's depth of experience in the financial sector and its expertise in building intuitive, consumer-friendly websites. Habañero emphasizes usability testing throughout its website development process. Habañero's testing is powered by TechSmith's Morae software, the industry's first all-digital, user-experience testing solution.

Until recently, Habañero had been utilizing a full-service usability lab for testing. If Habañero had tried to replicate the lab setup in-house, with all its various hardware components, it would have cost in excess of $30,000. By purchasing Morae, Habañero was able to create a next-generation usability lab for less than $1,500 while getting superior functionality, greater flexibility, and professional technical support. The firm was also able to utilize existing computers instead of having to invest in new machines, which would have added to the initial cost of the solution.

Habañero leveraged its Morae expertise to make its project bid more competitive, and ultimately win the consulting contract. The firm had used Morae on six previous projects so it was able to communicate the software's advantages in great detail. The fact that Morae offers an all-digital solution saves valuable time and, more importantly, delivers an unparalleled ability to capture and analyze how users interact with desktop and Web applications.

The Challenge Facing CUCBC and Habañero

CUCBC member credit unions, like many online banking providers, face the challenge of integrating the public side of their websites -- where marketing campaigns reach new customers and existing customers find services and tools -- with the secure areas where customers perform their online banking transactions. As a result, common challenges online banking websites and their users face include:

  • Lack of easy access to online applications and forms
  • Separate login requirements for each banking system
  • The desire to conduct more one-on-one online marketing campaigns

Another significant challenge is trying to reach customers who only access online banking pages where they perform transactions, such as the login page, via bookmarks, and never see the credit union's homepage where new information is displayed. CUCBC's own research corroborated this challenge, which was cited by two credit unions as a major obstacle to effective product promotions.

Scope of Usability Testing Project

  • 15 test participants
  • 3 days of testing
  • 18 hours of test sessions

Testing with Morae

CUCBC enlisted the help of North Shore Credit Union as well as VanCity Credit Union and its subsidiary, Citizens Bank of Canada, over the three days of testing. During the testing process, a Habañero analyst introduced participants to the concept of usability testing, then started Morae, and asked each participant to conduct 15 real-world tasks. The tasks ranged from trying to apply for a line of credit to paying a bill online to finding a local branch or the nearest ATM.

One of the many benefits Morae offers usability engineers and Web developers is its groundbreaking ability to synchronize various data and video streams and deliver them digitally. Based on TechSmith's Rich-Recording Technology (RRT), which is at the core of Morae, this synchronization happens automatically and is indexed and made searchable. Morae is the only product that is able to do this.

With Morae running in the background on the test subject's computer, all interactions, such as mouse clicks, page changes, cursor movements, dialog boxes, video of the participant's facial expressions, and audio are recorded. While this used to be a very complicated, time-consuming, and mundane task, it is now effortless using Morae. All the recording and synchronization is transparent to the user and does not impact the test results in any way.

In a nearby observation room, stakeholders from the various credit unions were able to monitor the usability testing using Morae's Observer component. They could see the participants, hear their words, and view all the on-screen action. Without distracting the participant, the observers could also discuss what was happening during the tests. Beyond these collaborative benefits, Morae also allowed the observation team to insert digital markers at any time so the team could review an event later in greater detail.

"One of the most valuable benefits of Morae's Observer is the ability to have a team of developers, or a number of stakeholders, sitting in the observation room seeing, hearing, and experiencing exactly what the participant experiences," said Ben Skelton, Director, User Experience for Habañero. "We start to notice trends in errors, trends in confusion, and trends in successes. We see the big picture and the stakeholders see it, too. This is true objectivity and it is very powerful."

Delivering Fast and Thorough Analysis

For the first two days of testing, Habañero recorded the participants with Morae, saving each file for additional scrutiny. When the last participant was finished with the tasks, Habañero usability engineers and designers began their analysis. Often it was a single designer reviewing a recording, sometimes several worked together when they wanted to compare their analyses. The markers inserted during the test sessions made it easy for analysts to quickly find a particular point in the recording and conduct deeper analysis.

While Morae's Recorder and Observer components make the collection and observation of information almost effortless -- and make Habañero's testing process run smoothly -- it's the Manager component of Morae that offers enormous time-saving benefits. Because all the data and video streams are synchronized, designers and usability engineers can easily calculate such metrics as time-on-task, or search by webpage changes or by mouse clicks to perform click-stream analysis. This data is automatically displayed along with the video. These elements contribute to bottom-line goals. For example, deeper analysis made it possible for Habañero to make recommendations on usability improvements that would increase completion rates as well make it easier for participants to complete the tasks.

After making revisions to the site, a second round of testing was conducted. Out of the 15 common banking tasks that users were asked to perform, seven revealed a success rate of less than 100 percent during the first round of testing. Habañero's recommended improvements dramatically improved the usability of the website -- in one case improving the success rate from 50 percent to 100 percent.

Benefits to Habañero and CUCBC

While the integrated Web products are still in development, CUCBC is on its way to having an integrated website and online banking system that create a seamless user experience and facilitate one-to-one marketing for credit unions. By doing thorough testing early, CUCBC was able to reduce risk and better guarantee a successful launch of the new product.

Habañero was able to deliver thorough analysis and recommendations for the new website on time and within budget. CUCBC executives were so impressed with Habañero and its use of Morae that individual credit unions have hired the firm to help with the customization of their websites. CUCBC has also purchased Morae to conduct internal testing. Moving forward, Habañero's goal is to help its clients set up in-house usability testing programs. Because Morae is affordable and easy to use, it will be a critical component in making this goal a reality.

Working with Techsmith

Launched in March 2004, Morae has quickly become the gold standard in user experience testing. It is used by many of the world's largest organizations as well as experts in usability engineering and Web development, such as Habañero. As an early adopter, Habañero was able to provide TechSmith developers with critical feature and functionality feedback that was incorporated into the first upgrade version of Morae.

"Habañero and TechSmith have a wonderful working relationship," said Skelton. "I'm amazed at how responsive they are to our requests, and it's comforting to know our investment is secure because we're working with a first-rate company that has a long and successful track record in software development."

About Habañero

Habañero Consulting Group is a leading, privately held, western Canadian IT consulting services company that creates customized solutions using the Internet and related technologies. The company is focused on developing long-term partnerships by offering a unique and practical integration of business analysis, strategic planning, and creative and technical services. Habañero provides complete, enterprise-wide, e-business solutions to clients such as A&W Canada; Bentall Capital; British Columbia Transmission Corporation; Coast Capital Savings; Credential Financial Inc.; ICBC; Intrawest; Norske Canada; Mountain Equipment Co-op; Phillips, Hager & North; and Terasen. For additional information, visit

Habañero's ability to quickly mock up a usability test scenario using custom-built tools and Morae software was impressive. The testing provided an efficient way to validate the site's design, navigation, and fluidity. - Scott Baldwin,
Manager Web Services, North Shore Credit Union

The depth of analyzable data Morae provides is unparalleled, absolutely accurate, and easily accessible. With this superior insight, we deliver results to clients that make our expertise and business stand out from competitors that only pay lip-service to usability.

- Ben Skelton,,
Director, User Experience, Habañero
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