An outsider’s perspective

The financial services industry is a cornerstone of our modern economy. Yet throughout my tech-infused life, I find surprisingly dated practices still abound — why is my penned signature considered a security measure? Why does rolling over my 401k require snail-mailing a check? How could a $1.2 trillion industry still depend on the nearly-bankrupt U.S. Postal Service?

As someone considering where to work next, I find technology companies targeting these inefficiencies particularly appealing. As part of doing my due diligence, I’ve organized a portion of the better-known consumer/merchant-facing companies into some general buckets. Here’s how I see it:

Should I really have to think about this?

I’ve taken a pee and it’s time to flush. Here’s what I see:

Designer A: Most people will be using our toilets to pee. So let’s make completing that process as easy as possible — the small-flush button should be big and easy to press. Fitt’s law in action, nice and simple.

Manager: Makes sense to me — get in, get out, get on with life.

Designer B: Hold on a sec. Let’s think of our users’ mental model: the small button represents small water and the big button equals big water, right? Who’s going to reasonably think: I want more water, let’s hit the small button. Big buttons have big consequences, that’s just how people think about this kind of thing thing. …


Charley Walton

Writes mostly at

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