ATM Machine For Opening Bank Accounts

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Reflection on whole process

Overall, the project was very interesting and has given us all a deeper understanding about how difficult and what a painstaking task it is to get the user requirements right. There was also quite a lot of reading to do in the module, but we thought it was very much to the project we were working on, which was great.

As far as the project is concerned, I think we still would need to create a third revised version of the prototype, get feedback from more users (about 100) before we could actually start implemented the system for the real world. But, of course, we would also need to talk to banks whether they would be interested in our system.

Overall, the original design/idea we had in mind has changed thanks to the very positive and helpful feedback received from users.

The biggest change is that now the ATM machine is not just designed for a specific bank but a generic ATM machine that a user could use just like the ATM machines which are fitted outside buildings like shops and banks. This gives the user the choice to open a new bank account even at 3 a.m. in the morning if he wishes so. But it also has the advantage that costs are reduced. Banks do not have to get their own ATM machine. Instead every bank will be added to a single ATM machine and it's up to the user where he wants to open a new bank account at.

The second biggest change from the original specification is that the user can now select from a range of types of bank accounts which most banks offer. We did not think about this at the beginning, but it's certainly a necessity to have that feature.

The other third biggest change is that after the card has been read and the details are about to be displayed on the screen, the user is asked to enter a password or a iris scan or a fingerprint is taken to confirm the identity of the user. This is good to prevent any kind of fraud.

The UCD process that we learnt during the lecture proved very useful in finding out about the user requirements. We were only three people who came up with a simple idea without even thinking about it in too much detail. Even though we made this mistake, our error was picked up by the users. Luckily, they helped us a lot in getting the requirements of the ATM machine right.

Therefore we thought that the UCD process is a lot more useful in comparison to other development methodologies such as the waterfall model or software development life cycle. Like the description of UCD says 'User centered design' we learnt that this methodology really helps a lot to get to know the requirements by focusing on what the user wants.

By following the UCD process, not only did we improve the interface of the ATM machine but also did a lot of improvements in terms of its functionality. This way the presentation prototype designed to get the interface right worked nicely together with the UCD process which in addition helped us improve the functional requirements specification of the system.

If we had more time then we could have also implemented the other improvements I suggested in one of my last postings such as a progress bar to show how much 'work' the user still has to do to complete the process of opening a new bank account. In addition, it would also be a good idea to include some of the most popular foreign languages spoken in this country such as Polish, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Chinese, Japanese etc.

Overall, we all think that if this system is implemented for the real world, it could have potential offering both the banks benefits (e.g. time saving filling in forms for opening new accounts) and the customer (time saving waiting for a customer service adviser).

That's all. A very enjoyable module. Thanks a lot Dr Beale.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Improvements on prototype

Even though we obtained very positive feedback about our first prototype from people, there is still room for plenty of improvements.

Apart from the improvements necessary to make as mentioned in the 'Analysis of the questionnaire for the first revised prototype', these are some of the improvements I have come up with.

1. As soon as the user begin the process of opening his new bank account, a progress bar should be displayed at the top of the screen to show the user how much progress he has made and how much he still has to do. This is a great way to provide the user with simple and useful information about the kind of progress he has made during the process.

This is necessary because as you can see from the prototype screenshots, that every screen only deals with a limited amount of information. Compared against a form where you can look at the paper and actually see which boxes you still need to fill in, in the ATM machines with an unknown number of screens this would not be known to the user. This is a useful point for improvement.

Even other systems provide this kind of facility. For example if you sign up Freeserve to get an Internet connection they display how much progress you have made. This is very useful for the user.

2. When the data about the customer has been read from the card and is displayed on the screen then the user presses the 'Next' button. And this is where an improvement in the current design of the ATM machine is necessary. At the moment, the details are sent to both banks - where the user opens a new account and the bank where he perhaps closes his bank account in the near future. However, this is not good. A better approach would be to have a confirmation box popping up after the 'Next' button is pressed, asking the user to confirm that he wants to open the new bank account at bank x and tell him that his details will be sent off securely to the banks.

3. The third problem in the system is that it does not allow the user to make a mistake and then revert the situation. Since there is no instance where the user needs to type in anything, it would still be a good idea if there was a button on every screen that would at least allow the user to go back to a previous screen.

4. One of the more challenging tasks would be to allow people with special needs to be able to use the ATM machine. For instance someone with vision problems and who may be using Braille, should have the facility to use the system. Since this can significantly increase the cost of the ATM machine, we do not think that banks would be willing to spend that extra amount of cash to cater for special needs people given that this ATM machine would be used in the real world.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Consideration of other types of prototpyes/prototyping

In the meeting today, we decided to stick to our presentation prototype and exploratory prototype because we are very convinced by the advantages they offer for our system and the purpose of this HCI project. The conclusion of the meeting was that if the project had to be implemented in the real world then we thought that implementing other types of prototypes and using other prototyping techniques would have helped us to gain a deeper understanding of the system and to come closer to the right and final best possible system implementation.

This is the discussion during the meeting in brief:

First we taught about prototyping techniques. Experimental prototyping is not appropriate at this stage as we are convinced that the system can be implemented and can meet the user's requirements. The ATM machine is a piece of software and as you would agree that changes to something intangible like software is easier and almost always possible to do compared to tangible objects like a building or car. This new function can easily be added by changing the current software of the ATM machine and then using the methods which are currently already tried and tested. For example, data can be sent to banks using the Internet connection which is already included in ATM machines. Security of cards is ensured using the security methods already implemented in current ATM machines, too.

Evolutionary prototyping would only have been appropriate if we were to implement this system in the real world. Although we did use this kind of prototyping in a way. Instead of scrapping our previous prototype completely, we actually made appropriate changes to it that we were told by the people who were interviewed. But still the main prototyping technique used is exploratory.

These are the reasons for rejecting the other prototyping techniques. Next we discussed the types of prototypes.

Implementing a functional prototype would only be appropriate if we had a real ATM machine and if the system was to be build for the real world. Even if we implemented it using Java and the NetBeans IDE together with a card reader attached to the computer, the time to implement all this would have been horrendous. The other bigger challenge would be how to implement the for example security issues when none of us in the group has ever programmed any security.

Breadboard prototypes are not appropriate for similar reasons as for the functional prototype. One of the risky aspects is the security of the credit/debit card. When the card has been read and the data is about to be displayed on the screen then either a password protection box should pop up (which we could implement) or a fingerprint or iris scan could be done (expensive to buy the equipment and is it really appropriate for our mini-project of the HCI course?). These could implemented in a breadboard, but we left it and decided to only put this risk into words in the blog rather than actually implement any of this.

A pilot system would have been appropriate only if the system was to be used in the real world and was already implemented. But we are actually still only getting the requirements right such as interface and functionality.

So, these are the reasons for rejecting the above types of prototypes/prototyping and sticking to our original decisions (presentation prototype, exploratory prototyping).

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Issues with different types of bank accounts

One of the problems in the current prototype, which was pointed out by some of the respondents during the questionnaire, was that users of the ATM machine should be able to select from a range of different types of bank accounts.

We thought about it, but we just did not detail about the types of bank accounts in the prototype. We thought that since it is only a prototype there is no need to add the specific details about the type of accounts to it. However, thinking about it again, we realised that it may not be such a bad idea to get a better picture of what the ATM machine look like. Afterall, prototypes are good for this kind of thing.

Prototypes are great to get a good/better picture of what a system may look light. The developer can get back to the client several times, ask him if that is really what he wants. If it is then it's ok and the developer can get on with the real implementation either by scrapping the whole prototype created or by using the prototype as an evolutionary prototype and build the real implementation based on it i.e. develop the prototype into a fully working system. Scrapping a prototype and using it only for clarification of client requirements purposes would be called a exploratory prototype. Discarding a prototype that the developer may have spend a lot of time and resources on may not sound very encouraging. However, continuing to develop a prototype as a evolutionary prototype is not very recommended especially when the prototype has been rushed, may not really be what the client needs etc. If any of these cases apply to the prototype then continuing working on the prototype into a full system would mean that the client ends up with a system which does not meet his requirements and hence a failed system is delivered. So, clients and developers have to think about what they want to do with the prototype before taking the project any further to the implementation stage.

To get back to our ATM machine, when the next prototype was developed we actually realised that different banks offer different bank accounts and so it may not even be possible to allow users to select from a range of bank accounts. Still, all banks offer some kind of standard bank accounts including savings accounts, business account and current account.

Therefore we thought that we will at least give the user the option to select either of these three types of bank accounts when they want to open a new bank account.

This should would then meet the user's requirements as pointed out during the questionnaire and also satisfy most users' needs if the ATM machine does get implemented for the real world.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Security flaws in current prototype

One of the main issues people raised during the first questionnaire and in the second questionnaire after the prototype was created was about security. The main two questions raised, however, were how will the data be kept secure when a user opens a bank account (asked in the first questionnaire) and what if someone finds the card he gets access to all the details of the card holder and can easily open a new bank account pretending to be the card holder.

Both questions are very similar. This security issue is not really an issue as long the card owner keeps his card in a secure place and does not loose it.

But what if he does? Well, if he does not the person who finds the card can commit any of the two or even both offences mentioned above. I admit that this is a serious security issue in the system as it is now.

To solve the problem there are various solutions:

1. After the user has inserted the credit or debit card into the ATM machine and the card details have been read then the user should be asked to enter a secret password before the details can be displayed and hence a new bank account in the card owner's name can be opened.

2. Similarly to the above solution, instead of a password the ATM machine user could be asked for a fingerprint. This was actually a solution that was suggested by one of the students I interviewed.

Of course, there are other solutions that could be implemented using some of the latest technologies such as iris scans.

However, these are the two solutions we thought as a group are the most feasible ones, simple to implement and it is most likely that banks would agree to either of these solutions if this system does get implemented in the real world.

Both solutions have been tried and tested and have solved security issues this way. The simplest example is that to be able to send a blog, I first have to log into If I had not got the right login and password then I would not be able to post messages under my name. It's a different story if someone else gets hold of my details and can then post messages under my name.

So, similar to this example a password protection mechanism would be the simplest and cheapest solution to solve the security issues people raised during the questionnaires.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Revised prototype

Like we found out from our last feedback from potential users that they thought there must be more information on screen to explain to users what the screen is about. So from the screen shot below, you can see that we have now improved this in our revised prototype. The first screen shown below tells the user to press the button that meets the user's requirement. Similar useful information is given on the screen when the user has to select the type of account he wants to open (shown after this screen shot).

This is a new screen where the user selects the type of account he wants to open (savings, business or current account. This was something that was raised by many people who were asked in the last questionnaire to provide some feedback on our prototype. Many banks offer different kinds of bank accounts, but we only selected the ones which are offered my all banks, so that our ATM machine can used for users who can open a bank account at various banks.

This is another new option screen where the user selects the bank where he wants to open a new bank account after he has selected the type of account. This was also a suggestion raised by a lot of respondents. Again this is only a prototype and hence not all banks have been included but it covers most High Street banks.

This screen is the same as before when the user has to insert his card.

This is the same screen when the card details are read.

This is the same screen when the user asks for help.

This screen has not changed either when the user presses the Cancel button.

This screen has been improved in the way that it now gives more information to the user as to what he has to do next. It also tells the user about what happens if he presses the Next button namely he will open a new bank account at the bank selected and his details will be sent to his previous bank and the new bank he has just opened an account at.

This is the same screen as before thanking the user for opening a new bank account.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Analysis of the questionnaire

After interviewing 9 students, I analysed the answers and thought about the results obtained. Only 9 students i.e. potential users of the ATM machine were interviewed, as I was receiving very similar responses and thought that there is no point asking more people. My initial intention was to ask 20 people though. However, I believe that asking only 9 people has given me enough feedback, so that I can later on improve the ATM machine somehow.

The first question was how clear it is to the user using the system. As the graph shows below, the majority of respondents seem to be very pleased with the prototype. So I think that we have created a user-friendly system conforming to the various design guidelines ( that were taught us in one of the lectures.

I assume that people find the system easy to use because we have kept the design of the system very simple by conforming to current ATM machine designs. As we know, current ATM machines already provide a very simple interface making it user-friendly for all types of users whether he is a beginner or somebody who might actually be manufacturing these types of machines.

In addition, the system does not put too much information on one single screen. This is good, so that the user is not 'bombarded' with too much information and avoids the user getting confused.

As you can also see from the first screenshot i.e. the screen that allows users to select which function they want to use on the system the new function of opening bank accounts has been nicely integrated into the existing ATM machines rather than creating a new separate ATM machine with a new look/design. This has also the advantage that if this system does get used in the real world, the implementation costs for banks would be significantly reduced. This also has the advantage that users, who have used ATM machines before, would not need to learn how to use this new function of opening bank accounts.

Even though icons such as a question mark for help would have been a good idea to include into the prototype but since it is just a prototype, I believe it is not absolutely vital.

Although the diagram shows that the majority of people find the system clear to use, it would still be good if we could come up with new ideas of how to create 'very clear' usability. One comment that was made by a respondent was that he think that the use of the system is not quite clear, because someone who does not know about the system can get confused about what the function to open bank accounts actually is, how to use it etc.

However, in response I told him that when banks market the ATM machine (for opening bank accounts) that a lot of people will know about it. But after thinking about it again, I think that I was not quite right. Marketing the ATM machine on the TV, newspaper, radio etc will not be enough. The adverts can only show a small glimpse about the system; it cannot give a tutorial on how to actually use the system. So, there is space for improvement in this respect.

The next diagram below shows the responses received for the question how the user rate the design of the system i.e. the look and feel of the ATM machine.

We are all very pleased that I got the initial design/prototype on paper right, which was then created by Anup in NetBeans. I have created several websites before and I always create use-friendly, simple systems/websites. So, I guess it has helped me in doing this task. Even though the majority of people think that it is a good user interface, it would be great if the 'appealing' votes could be converted into 'very appealing'. However, it could also be the case that people overheard it when I told them that this is only a prototype and that they should not worry too much about the design. For example they do not to criticise the prototype if they think that a button could have been 5mm to the right. But still it is a good interface. Had we more time and we knew that this system will be used in the real-world then of course there would have been a very rigorous prototype in place. Overall, you can see that this is a presentation prototype which we thought is the most suitable one for this purpose to show what the system looks like.

The third question that potential users were ask was that whether they think if they had not used an ATM machine before if they think the usability of the system is intuitive or easy to learn.

None of the people asked were in that situation – everyone has debit or credit cards and has used an ATM machine before. However, we still asked them if they could think back when they had not used an ATM machine before and if they would have thought at that time that this new function of the ATM machine would have been easy enough for them to learn.

As the graph shows below, the majority of respondents thought that they would have been able to use this new function if they had not used an ATM machine before. Asking them about the reason for their answer, most of the people said that the interface is very ‘simple’ and ‘fresh’ which makes it easy to learn. One person also said that anyone who had ‘used a computer a before should have any trouble figuring out how the ATM machine works’.

On the other hand, there were still two people who thought that this would have been the case for them as they thought that a bit more information on the screens would be better. So, this is one of the improvements that could be made. But it’s still important to bear in mind that this is just a prototype which is bound to only show the important details. A real world system would have a bit more information, of course.

The next question we asked people was whether they thought that the ATM machine as designed now meets their requirements of the system i.e. opening a new bank account using their current debit or credit card.

As you can see from the diagram below that over 80% of respondents thought that the ATM machine as designed by us meets their requirements. I do not know why two people said that they think it does not meet their requirements and neither did we actually ask them. However, this is certainly something that we need to take into consideration when it comes to revising this prototype for a second time.

This question is very much related to the usability question and hence solving the problem with the usability will also eliminate this problem.

Finally, we asked people for any suggestions for improvements in terms of usability or functionality they think could be made to the ATM machine we designed.

One of the issues that was raised by over 80% of respondents was security. As soon as the user inserts his credit or debit card, the details are read by the ATM machine. Afterwards, all the details about the card holder such as name, address, bank details etc are displayed on the screen.

This is actually a serious problem which we did not think of when creating the prototype. To give you an example why this is a problem: Let's say that person A looses his credit/debit card and person B suddenly spots the card belonging to person A. Person B picks up the credit/debit card, goes to one of the ATM machines and next he inserts the card. After the data has been read by the ATM machine off the credit/debit card, person B can commit to illegal offences: a) he can view/obtain the details about person A and then commit identity theft or b) open a new bank account pretending to be person A. This is a serious flaw in our prototype and we need to seriously consider this issue.

Then 2 people also said that the ATM machine should allow them to open various types of bank accounts. Luckily the prototype was designed in such a way that this function was spotted. So this shows that it is was the right choice to choose a presentation prototype. Anyway, the next revised prototype should allow users to select from a range of bank accounts such as current accounts, savings accounts and business accounts.

The third suggestion that was made, which actually gave our idea a whole new twist, was about the ATM machine allowing you to select where i.e. which bank the user wants to open a new bank account at.

If you read back one of the previous postings, you will notice that our initial idea was that all the different banks wishing to add on this new function would have their own ATM machine like it is now the case. However, one person suggested that the ATM machine should be 'generic'. This means that just like you can use one of those ATM machines hanging outside buildings, shops or even kiosks inside small shops to withdraw money, similarly this ATM machine should allow you to open bank accounts.

This means that if a user for example is so fed up with a bank, he could just go down to the nearest ATM machine, which may be fitted outside some building perhaps shop, and open a new bank account at a different bank. Life could not be easier or more convenient. This is something we thought about and came to the conclusion that it is a good idea. In fact, we were surprised why we did not come up with this idea in the first instance. So, this is definitely a change that you will see in the next revised prototype.

The last interesting point that was raised by a person was that the system should cater for translations. As far as we know, there is no ATM machine at the moment which allows a user speaking a different language other than English to use the system in his own native language.

This is a valid suggestion, but we have not decided yet whether we want to include this improvement feature into our ATM machine. Perhaps it is not necessary as the scope of our project is to come up with an ATM machine that allows you to open a new bank account using your current credit or debit card; we are not trying to improve current ATM machines as they are.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Questionnaire to evaluate the prototype

To revise the first prototype, Manjeet came up with the following questions relevant to the prototype. He again followed the guidelines we were taught during one of our lectures.

We discussed the questions in a group meeting and thought that the questions suggested by Manjeet were good enough and follow the guidelines we were taught during one of our previous lectures about questionnaire design guidelines ( and

Below are the questions we agreed on to ask people.

1) How clear is it to you using the system?

Very clear Clear 50/50 Unclear Very unclear

2) How do you rate the design of the system?

Very appealing Appealing Ok Poor Very poor

3) If you had not used an ATM machine before, do you think the usability of the system is intuitive ore easy to learn?

Yes No Not sure

4) Do you think the system meets your requirements?

Yes No

5) Suggestions for improving the system in terms of functionality or usability

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

First prototype

After designing a prototype on paper, we thought that it may not be a good idea to obtain feedback from potential users of the system at some time later. Therefore we thought it may be a good idea to create a physical prototype.

We decided to create a prototype with Java using the NetBeans IDE, because it allows you to create GUI's very quickly. Even though we could have created Swing GUI's, we created applet prototypes since it did not matter for the purpose of the purpose whether we use a Swing or applet GUI.

Overall, we implemented the physical prototype identical to the paper version. The prototype was going to be a presentation prototype and the technique was the exploratory prototyping.

For the reasons mentioned in the posting just after we created a paper version prototype, we decided to stick to our original decisions about the type of prototype and prototyping technique. In brief, the presentation prototype would allow us to show potential users the look and feel of the ATM machine. For a similar reason, we decided to make an exploratory prototype. This would allow us to get the requirements of the users right.

The screenshot below shows you that apart from the other options currently available on the ATM machine, a new button will be added to allow new customers owning a credit/debit card from another bank to open a new bank account. The option can be selected by pressing the button labelled as 'Open New Account'.

A screenshot has been included below to show the screen after the button has been pressed to open a new bank account. The user has the option to cancel the transaction at any time during the transaction and also receive some help during the whole process.

If the user presses the 'Cancel' button at any time during the transaction then the screen below will be displayed as a pop-up box asking the user whether he is really sure about cancelling the the whole transaction. If the user presses the 'Yes' button then the application will be closed. If the user presses the 'No' button, maybe the user just hit the 'Cancel' button by accident, then he is taken back to the last screen.

The next screen shot shows the progress bar after the user has inserted his card into the ATM machine. The progress bar displays the progress which has been made by the ATM machine of reading the data from either the user's credit or debit card.

Once the data has been read, the 'Next', 'Help' and 'Close' buttons are displayed just like on the paper version prototype. The user would then press the 'Next' button to proceed to the next screen shown after the screenshot below.

The screen shot below shows the next screen after the 'Next' button was pressed on the screen above. Here the user looks at the details, which were read from his credit/debit card, and confirms those. Since the details are likely to be longer than the screen size, therefore a scrollbar has been added to the right-hand side to scroll up/down the screen.

To complete the process of opening a bank account, the user presses the 'Next' button which sends all the details to the bank that he applied to and also a second copy is sent to the bank where he had his bank account a few minutes ago.

The screen shot below shows the final screen which is displayed after the user pressed the 'Next' button on the screen above.

Essentially, it thanks the user and tells him that a confirmation letter will be sent out to him within the next couple of days.

On this screen the user has only got the option to complete the transaction by pressing the 'Close' button. This will then take the user back to the opening screen (the first screen shot at the top of this message). As soon the screen below is displayed, a receipt will also be printed out to confirm the transaction.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Reason for choosing a presentation prototype/exploratory prototyping

There are various kinds of prototypes/prototyping techniques as we learnt from the lecture material. The begin with there is a distinction between a process view which concentrates on the development process and its goal and the product view which concentrates on the results of the process. But first of all, what process view prototyping does actually exist?

1. Exploratory prototyping: This is used to clarify requirements and potential solutions for the requirements. The question discussed is about what a task should achieve and how it can be supported using IT. The results are normally presentation or functional prototypes.

2. Experimental prototyping: This is designed to check whether the system is feasible or not to meet the requirements. The results are normally functional prototypes or breadboards.

3. Evolutionary prototyping: This is a continuous process for adapting an application system to rapidly changing organisational contraints. In this type of prototyping all types of prototypes may be build. Often pilot systems are build to avoid any kind of interruptions in the smooth work flow of the current system.

Well, these are the process prototyping techniques. What about the types of prototypes? The following describes the types of prototypes that a developer could use:

1. Presentation prototype: These are used to show how the system will solve the requirements. These often focus mainly on the user interface of the system.

2. Functional prototypes: These implement important parts of the user interface and the system.

3. Breadboards: They are used to explore technical aspects of the system such as system architecture or functionality of the system to be built. They are used to investigate certain aspects which are of risky nature.

4. Pilot prototypes: These are very mature in their nature and can be practically applied.

These are the types of prototypes and prototyping techniques available. Overall, the first prototype we have created is mainly a presentation prototype. If you click on the buttons then the current screen is closed and the next screen is displayed. This is a very tiny part of a functional prototype, but I would describe our prototype on the whole as a presentation prototype. The prototyping technique used is exploratory prototyping.

The reason why we chose to build a presentation prototype, because as part of the module work we only had to mainly focus to get the requirements right such as the functionality and the interface.

The second reason was that to build a system, the first thing according to the software development lifecycle is the requirements analysis i.e. getting to know what the user wants. We are at this stage and so it seemed to be right to use a presentation prototype which is also going to be useful later on when potential users are asked to provide us with some feedback on this prototype.

Thirdly, we are not able to build an ATM machine which would be able to read credit/debit cards for example. So, it seemed that the most appropriate way to simulate/illustrate our system was to build a presentation prototype which can later on also be easily build using some programming which also allows to build GUIs.

However, why did we use the exploratory prototyping technique?

Like mentioned above, the purpose of our prototype was to get the user requirements right. And this is why you use the exploratory prototyping technique. The obvious general solution would be to integrate this new function of creating new bank accounts into current ATM machines rather than creating a separate ATM machine that would solely deal with this task.

This is because it is unlikely that any bank has such a high number of new customers opening new bank accounts let's say every 30 minutes or so. Furthermore, manufacturing a new, separate ATM machine solely for this task would discourage banks investing in our idea because of the high implementation costs. Thirdly, there may not even be enough space in a bank to place another ATM machine. Finally, a separate machine would also cost the bank mor electricity and maintenance costs.

The other reason for choosing exploratory prototyping is because as the prototype gets reviewed by potential users perhaps in the form of questionnaires, interviews etc, we will get more feedback on what the user needs and hence can improve meeting the requirements by changing the prototype accordingly.

Like mentioned above in the description about exploratory prototyping, presentation prototypes goes nicely together with this technique and our experience with this task showed that this is true. The both complement each other very well.

However, if we ask potential users what they think about our prototype we have to ensure that they understand/remember that it is only a prototype and hence they should not worry about if a button could have been 5mm to the right or so. This is one of the dangers of building prototypes particularly in our case it is the presentation prototype.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

First prototype

Last week I created a first prototype of the ATM machine on my own. This prototype still needs to be discussed with the group. This is a problem as we all have time schedules when we could meet up.

Overall, rather than drawing up a complete ATM machine I decided to only draw up a prototype of screenshots that the user will see on the screen of the ATM. As you know, different ATMs have a different GUI layout and similar functions available. However, as I am most familiar with the HSBC ATM, I have based the prototype on their ATM.

The screenshot below shows you that apart from the other options currently available on the ATM, a new button will be added to allow new customers owning a credit/debit card from another bank to open a new bank account. The option can be selected by pressing the button located on the edge of the ATM's screen. Since the other functions offered by HSBC ATMs are irrelevant for this new function, therefore I decided to leave them out on the screenshot below.

After the user has pressed the button to open a new bank account, he is asked to insert his current credit/debit card. Upon this, he presses the 'Next' button to continue with the transaction.

To make the interface user-friendly, users can get assistance by pressing on the 'Help' button. A screen shot has been included below to show the screen after the button has been pressed. Similarly, the user has the option to cancel the transaction at any time during the transaction. By 'transaction' I mean the whole process of opening a new bank account.

The next screen shot is displayed when the user presses the 'Help' button recommending the user to either ask a member of staff to ask for further assistance or call a freephone telephone number. To close the pop-up window, he has to press the 'Close' button.

Like the 'Help' button there is also a 'Cancel' button to make the application user friendly. If the user presses the 'Cancel' button at any time during the transaction then the screen below will be displayed as a pop-up box asking the user whether he is really sure about cancelling the the whole transaction. This is also another could aspect of usability because it allows users to rectify any mistakes if they make them or prevents users from making mistakes mistakes. If the user presses the 'Yes' button then the application will be closed. If the user presses the 'No' button, maybe the user just hit the 'Cancel' button by accident, then he is taken back to the last screen.

The next screen shot shows what happens after the user has inserted their card into the ATM. (Please click on the image if you have trouble reading it. The image will then be displayed in larger size.) First a message is displayed to inform the user that the ATM is reading data from the card while it is reading the data. Once the data has been read, the user is informed that the read has been completed. At the same time he is asked to press on the 'Next' button to confirm the details displayed on the next screen.

The screen shot below shows the next screen after the 'Next' button was pressed on the screen above. Here the user looks at the details, which were read from his credit/debit card, and confirms those. Since the details are likely to be longer than the screen size, therefore a scrollbar has been added to the right-hand side to scroll up/down the screen. Once the user reaches the bottom of the screen the user is informed to press the 'Next' button to complete the transaction and submit the application to the bank. I find it important to tell the user at this stage what will happen when he presses the 'Next' button. The effect of this action are significant - it opens the account, prints a receipt and sends a letter to the user's home address to confirm the account creation.

Vivek told me that when he interviewed people at the banks in the university, people suggested to have an option to change details when they are displayed on the 'confirmation screen'. I quite agree with that and when I created the prototype myself, it just didn't come to my mind to take care of this requirement. But I am going to include this function into my next reviewed version of the prototype.

This is the last screen the user will be presented with after he pressed the 'Next' button. A 'Thank you' message is displayed and informs the user that a letter confirming this transaction will be sent out to him. On this screen the user has only got the option to complete the transaction by pressing the 'Close' button. This will then take the user back to the opening screen (the first screen shot at the top of this message). As soon the screen below is displayed, a receipt will also be printed out to confirm the transaction.

That's it for now. I will, however, add more information about prototypes. What they are, different types etc and of course make changes mentioned in this message and also make changes depending on the responses received from the questionnaires.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Analysis of the questionnaire


New technologies emerge in our society on a regular basis. Whether or not these technologies remain and are successful depends on the degree to which the members of society adopt them. A version of automatic teller machines (ATMs) was introduced. in Currently there are probably tens of thousands of ATMs throughout the world. Such growth suggests that ATMs are a successful new technology that has been adopted by members of society. The purpose of our study was to determine what characteristics identify individuals who use ATMs and how often, where, and for what transactions they use them. Then we decided to made questionnaire where we could get information about what people think about the idea of opening a new bank Account through ATM Machine We also addressed the problems and difficulties users have with ATMs. In addition, we sought to determine why it would be a good idea to open a new Bank Account through an ATM machine. Some people choose not to use ATMs where as most feel that it’s a great Idea saving lot of time and Paper work.

Question1: Do you own a credit Card.?

This questionnaire reports a study of ATM machine Users usually cardholders those who have credit or debit Cards. The questionnaire interviewed approximately 15 people at Barclays Bank, Nat west and HSBC most of them were in age group of 20 to 25 and were from working class, students and Bank people Regarding the Idea of opening a Bank Account through an ATM Machine. The result obtained has been presented in Graphical, form. Most of the people interviewed have credit or debit cards.

Question 2: Do you think allowing existing credit/debit cardholders to open accounts via current ATM Machines using their current card is a good idea? Why

1,Yes. 2, No. 3, Maybe.

Most of the users of automated teller machines (ATMs) approximately seventy five percent responded positively regarding the idea of opening a new bank account through an ATM Machine, they feel it’s a time saving and you don’t have to wait for an appointment and it could be open at any time of the day. Whereas approximately twenty five percent of the whole lot totally had different view as to why it’s not a good idea. Some feel its not safe to open a new account via ATM due to security concerns, they feel someone can misuse this method in case their card gets in wrong Hands. And there is more possibility of Fraud Increased. Whereas some feel that they would not have enough knowledge about the accounts which they wanted to open that they themselves would not know which account would be beneficial to them and it would be better going to the bank and let some Bank staff explain them which account would be suitable for them according to their requirement and needs.

Question 3: If this function was integrated into current ATM Machines would you actually use it or rather speak to the bank clerk?

As information about why some people choose not to use ATMs. The structured interview data provide a more in-depth view of the users, and information about training needs. It is often assumed that automatic teller machines (ATMs) are inherently easy to use and require no training. However, there is evidence to suggest that ATM users do experience difficulty when learning to use the system some of the people interviewed did not have high level of knowledge regarding the use of ATM machines so they were hesitant as to really use the Machines for opening new Bank Account and preferred speaking to the Bank Staff for opening their new account, wheras most of the people as presented in the graph had positive Idea of going to the ATM Machine for opening new Bank Account through an ATM Machine rather then going to the Bank staff Question4: How much time would you willing to spend on opening a new bank account via an ATM Machine?

Question4: How much time would you willing to spend on opening a new bank account via an ATM Machine?

Here we got mix response from all the people majority of them feel it would be nice if they could spend 5 minutes on ATM Machine for opening new account where as some consider 10 minutes and few of them feel it might take 20 minutes would be appropriate

Question 5: How would you rate the ease of using current ATM Machines?
Very easy, Ok, Difficult, Very Difficult.

According to Graph presented here approximately 75% of the people find easy using ATM Machine. few of them approximately 10% find it ok whereas some find it difficult but majority of them feel its easy to use ATM Machine.

Question 6: Any Suggestion on improving the usability of current ATM machines?

Traditionally, access to secure areas or sensitive information has been controlled by possession of a particular artefact (such as a card or key) and/or knowledge of a specific piece of information such as a Personal Identification Number (PIN) or a password. The people interviewed had different suggestion like Instead of pin numbers they should have some advanced features like scanners where you don’t have to remember password or pin numbers and to ensure that no theft take place in case their card is stolen or lost. And some have suggestion like instead of keypad it would be good idea of having a Touch screen, and improved features. Hide Buttons from view of other people in line. The practice of usability is discussed and problem areas are identified. Visibility and ease of use was one of concern where old or handicapped people had some problems accessing ATM Machines.

The purpose of this Survey was to obtain information on the opinions, personal preferences, difficulties encountered when using automatic teller machine and about the idea of opening a bank account through an ATM Machine. Participants in the survey indicated few complaints about the process with the exception that very few expressed difficulties in figuring out how to orient the automatic teller machine card through and open a new Bank account. Where as most of the people were positive toward the idea of opening the bank account through the ATM machine.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


After having a lecture on how to write good questionnaire and being advised on pitfalls associated with writing them, I have come up with the following questions which could be asked to the potential users of the system:

  1. Do you own a credit/debit card?
  2. Do you think allowing existing credit/debit card holders to open bank accounts via current ATM machines using their current card is a good idea? Why?
  3. If this function was integrating into current ATM machines would you actually use it or rather speak to a bank clerk?
  4. How much time would you ideally spend on opening your new bank account via an ATM machine? Up to 5 minutes, up to 10 minutes, up to 20 minutes, more
  5. How do you rate the ease of using current ATM machines? (1 easy, 5 difficult)
  6. Any suggestions on improving the usability of current ATM machines such as larger text size.

The potential users are people who already have a credit/debit card from a bank. Therefore the first question that should be asked to the interviewee is whether he already has a credit/debit card. There is no point asking someone who has not got one, because most of the questions above can only be answered by people who currently have an ATM machine.

Of course, we could argue that there may be people who had credit/debit cards and used ATM machines in the past, but this would make the questionnaire very lengthy and also the questioning process would be very long for which only very few people have got enough time.

So this questioning process is going to target very specific types of people such as students, adults, pensioners and staff working at different banks. The best place is in the university which has the Llyods, HSBC and NatWest bank and it would also be a good idea to ask the staff what they think of the idea.

Friday, February 03, 2006

How ATM machines work (2)

An ATM is simply a data terminal with two input and four output devices. Like any other data terminal, the ATM has to connect to, and communicate through, a host processor. The host processor is analogous to an Internet service provider (ISP) in that it is the gateway through which all the various ATM networks become available to the cardholder (the person wanting the cash).

Most host processors can support either leased-line or dial-up machines. Leased-line machines connect directly to the host processor through a four-wire, point-to-point, and dedicated telephone line. Dial-up ATMs connect to the host processor through a normal phone line using a modem and a toll-free number, or through an Internet service provider using a local access number dialled by modem. Leased-line ATMs are preferred for very high-volume locations because of their through-put capability and dial-up ATMs are preferred for retail merchant locations where cost is a greater factor than through-put. The initial cost for a dial-up machine is less than half that for a leased-line machine. The monthly operating costs for dial-up are only a fraction of the costs for leased-line.

The host processor may be owned by a bank or financial institution, or it may be owned by an independent service provider. Bank-owned processors normally support only bank-owned machines, whereas the independent processors support merchant-owned machines.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

How ATM machines work (1)

When a cardholder wants to do an ATM transaction, he or she provides the necessary information by means of the card reader and keypad. The ATM forwards this information to the host processor, which routes the transaction request to the cardholder's bank or the institution that issued the card. If the cardholder is requesting cash, the host processor causes an electronic funds transfer to take place from the customer's bank account to the host processor's account. Once the funds are transferred to the host processor's bank account, the processor sends an approval code to the ATM authorizing the machine to dispense the cash. The processor then ACHs(Automated Clearing House) the cardholder's funds into the merchant's bank account, usually the next bank business day. In this way, the merchant is reimbursed for all funds dispensed by the ATM. So when you request cash, the money moves electronically from your account to the host's account to the merchant's account.

So when you request cash, the money moves electronically from your account to the host's account to the merchant's account.

Timeline of ATM machines

1939 — The first ATM predecessor developed and patented by George Simjian

1960 — ATM predecessor installed: New York's First National City Bank (now CitiBank) installs a Bankograph in several branch lobbies. The idea is for customers to pay utility bills and get receipts without having to see a teller.1967 — First cash dispenser installation: The first cash dispenser, made by De La Rue Instruments, makes its debut in a Barclays Bank branch near London. It uses paper vouchers bought from tellers. The machine is called the De La Rue Automatic Cash System, or DACS invented by John Shephered-Barron.

1968 — Card-eating: Barclays and a few other banks introduce a machine that encodes cash on plastic cards purchased from a teller. The problem is that the machine always eats the cards, and customers have to buy new cards if they want to make more transactions.

1969 — First use of ATM magstripe cards: Docutel installs its Docuteller machine at New York's Chemical Bank. The installation marks the first use of magnetically encoded plastic. Most people in the industry recognize Docutel’s first machine as the first modern magstripe machine. Donald C. Wetzel is given credit for developing the Docutel machine.

1971 — First true bank ATMs: Docutel introduces its Total Teller, the first true fully functional ATM that is very similar to ATM which we are using today.1973 — Proliferation begins: By 1973, 2,000 ATMs — mostly from Docutel- are operating in the United States. They sell for about $30,000 each.

1974 — Diebold’s first TABS 500 machine, an off-line version, is installed at a bank in Atlanta.
Diebold develops the TABS 550, an on-line and off-line version. The flexibility of the machine makes it unique and more marketable to banks. The TABS 600 is also developed.

1978 — The first IBM-compatible Diebold machine is installed at a bank in Indianapolis.

History of ATM machines

Many inventors contribute to the history of an invention of Automatic Teller Machine(ATM). Luther George Simjian, Don Wetzel and John Shepherd-Barron are the inventors behind this machine.

Luther George Simjian in 1939 made earlier and not so successful version of ATM. The ATM machine that he made is mechanical device that allow customers to make transactions.

Don Watzel was the Vice President of Product Planning at Docutel, a company that developed automated baggage-handling equipment, in 1968. He with Tom Barnes, the chief mechanical engineer and George Chastain, the electrical engineer developed the modern ATM machine at the cost of 5 million dollars. The first working ATM was installed in a New York based Chemical Bank.

John Shepherd-Barron had an idea in the 1960's for a 24/7 cash dispenser. At the time, he was managing director of De La Rue Instruments. De La Rue today manufactures cash dispensers(heart of ATM). In fact, there is a De La Rue cash dispenser in 1 out of every 5 ATM machines built. If you want to believe that Shepard-Barron invented the ATM, then the world's first ATM was installed outside a north London branch of Barclays Bank in 1967.

The first picture is of the inventor John Shepherd-Barron and we can see that crowd gather outside Barclays Bank to see the first cash dispenser in the second one.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

User task analysis

Task analysis analyses what a user is required to do in terms of actions and/or cognitive processes to achieve a task that’s Opening a Bank Account through an ATM Machine. It is a very good Idea with very few and simple steps to be followed. A detailed task analysis has been conducted to understand the current system and the information flows within it. These information flows are important to the maintenance of the existing system and must be incorporated or substituted in any new system. Task analysis makes it possible to design and allocate tasks appropriately within the new system. The functions to be included within the Existing ATM Machine for opening a new Account and the appropriate user interface that can then be accurately specified.

When opening a New Bank A/C in Another Bank Through it s ATM Machine we need to insert our Debit/Credit Card of the existing Bank for the purpose of verification and Acquision of person’s Identity. When you insert your card ATM machine you will be asked for your security code/Password, which is four-digit number, for the verification reason.

A new window pop up in the ATM Machine giving you various options to choose from the user chooses the appropriate option, In this case user enter the option for opening New Account, the machine will automatically access the required information from your existing Bank Account collecting all the data like Home Address email id, telephone no etc, Which is provided by the user to existing bank while opening an Account.

After the ATM Machine access the information from user’s old account and verify all the required information, which is necessary for opening an account, then it will show a window containing various accounts from which user has to choose according to his own needs so he can open a new account.

Once these steps have been completed and the appropriate actions have been performed by the user then the machine shows the terms and conditions window for the appropriate bank account which has been chosen by the user if he or she agrees by the conditions and accepts them then the ATM will give you the receipts stating your account no and sort code.

On successful completion of all these procedures, and once new bank account have been opened then the ATM will ask you if you want to continue with another transaction or exit. Depending upon the instruction from the user of the ATM Machine takes the appropriate actions.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

User needs analysis

The User Needs Analysis defines the systems requirement and expectation from the user's/customer's perspective. This analysis defines what are the objective user wants to serve with this system and the order in which it is carried out. By this we can also determine the design of the system and can identify the critical part of the system or key objective that decides whether it is satisfied or not.

The first step in User Need Analysis is to identify and categorise user (customer). In our system we can say that our users (customers) are existing customer of any bank holding debit or credit card of any bank. As they are using ATM machine for their day to day needs, we can say they are familiar to the system and they can easily execute task on the same machine with least difficulty. There are also some customers who have this cards but they are not using it frequently, they might have difficulty in completing their objective. We can say this customers as naive user. We need to consult both kind of customers in order to conduct analysis.

The second thing in this analysis is to identify possible objective. Opening an account using existing ATM setup is our main objective which in turn has several objective like inserting details of customer from one to other bank database, transferring balance to verify account, taking digital signature etc. We need user analysis to identify the flow of the process which is mostly suitable to customer to complete this task which satisfy some constraints imposed on the system for security or safty. We can do this task by two ways. For the users who use existing system frequently and some expert of the system by interviewing them and for the naive users by questionnaire.

By this we can determine the design of the system, main objective to open an account with ATM machine, basic requirement to execute the task means you must have credit card or debit card of some bank etc. For these objective we need user to initiate some action or to do some task to complete their objective.

Apart from that we can also determine the critical issue like transferring details of customer from one bank to other and verification by transferring some amount from existing account to new account that you will create with the system. For these we don't need user in fact these actions are initiated because of some user activity but they are least concerned with this. These tasks are done by the system to complete the task that user initiated.

Finally we deduce from the analysis:

User : Existing customer of any bank with credit or debit card facilities.
Main Objective : To open an account
Critical Objective : Transfer customer's detail from one bank database to other
Transfer some amount from existing account to desired new account

Monday, January 30, 2006


At the moment there is no other bank which does have this kind of facility. I analysed all major banks including Abbey, Halifax, NatWest, Barclays, HSBC and RBS but none of these banks do offer this method of opening a bank account at any of their branches. I checked out the current ATM machines of each of these banks by visiting their branches mainly based in the city centre of Birmingham.

This means that this idea is not just a good idea for the HCI course, but could perhaps even have potential in the real world. Many people nowadays move their bank account to another bank or open up second bank accounts for various reasons such as to keep their business and personal bank account separate. And if these people can open a new bank account within approximately five minutes instead of around one hour then this would be great for the customers as well as the banks because of massive time savings.

I have often noticed that people start to leave after they have waited for around 20 minutes. People are busy and do not have time to wait around. First impressions count the most. If a new customer has to wait for 20 minutes on his first day then what can he expect from the bank once he starts banking with them. For this reason and maybe others, people start to leave and might come back or search for a nearby bank offering similar benefits and services.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Initial ideas

The problem we had at the beginning was about coming up with a wacky idea. But since we could not come up with anything 'wacky' so we came up with the ideas of either creating electronic dipers or an ATM machine allowing people who have already got a credit or debit card at a bank to open up a new bank account but at a different bank. The electronic dipers (or 'pampers') would perhaps send out some beeping as soon as the device thinks that the baby is about to either ... or ... .

The electronic dipers sounded great initially, but we thought about how to design the dipers and what to write about it for the next 7/8 weeks and so we went for the ATM machine.

Not having another idea was one reason why we went for the ATM machine. The second reason is that we and the majority of people already know quite a lot about it and how to use it.
We thought that it might quite a boring and conventional idea, but as we thought about it in more detail it turned out that it is quite an interesting machine which could perhaps even be developed for the real world.

We realised that we need to look at two different kinds of people:

1. People who have a bank account together with either a credit and debit card. These people should be able to use their credit/debit card to just go to one these ATM machines, insert the card, all the necessary details like address, name etc should be read automatically by the machine and finally the customer should only be required to sign the 'transaction' and remove his card.
2. People who do not have a bank account and no credit or debit card either. These kinds of people have to go through the current manual processing procedure i.e. queue up, fill in forms and then wait for the all the details and cards to be sent to their home.
3. People who have a bank account but have no credit or debit card. These people are recommended by staff working at the bank where the person wants to open an account to first get either a credit or debit card from their current bank so that they can use the ATM machine. Otherwise they would need to go through the current manual process.

We thought about security. Security is not a problem, because security is already built into present ATM machines. By the security I mean the verification of address, names etc i.e. person's details. Like we can withdraw with either card type money from any bank equally we can open up a new bank account, since the 'communication infrastructure' amongst all (major) banks has already been set up. So security = no problem.

Overall instead of creating a completely separate ATM machine for this single task, it is ideal to add this extra feature to current ATM machines. Firstly, because it is cheaper to implement and secondly to keep the machines busy. My assumption is that roughly 0 to 10 bank accounts are opened daily at every bank. This is not a lot. These ATM machines would be idle for most of the time plus would consume electricity, which could be saved. Hence it is better to add the feature to current ATM machines.

The next thing we need to do is to think about scenarios. So watch this space for scenarios.