Designing in the financial industry—a discussion with DBS

DBS is a leading financial services group headquartered in Singapore, with a growing presence in greater China, southeast Asia, and south Asia. We talked to Chooake Wongwattanasilpa, DBS’s Executive Director of UX and Design, about how his team works.

What are some of the biggest challenges of designing in the financial industry?

UX design in the financial industry has quite a bit of catching up to do with other industries. That means we have to educate our cross-functional team about how to work with designers and researchers.

I’ve been spending time setting up workshops and meetings with our C-suite to explain what UX design is and why it’s important, which is a great place to start when you’re trying to convince a large organization that design plays a huge role in business.

Related story: Can UX design be taught?

We’ve grown our team to 35 team members—and that proves our company is willing to invest in design.

Can you tell us about how your design team is set up? What is your mix of designers on the design team like? How do they report/collaborate?

Our team is under DBS Bank Consumer Group. We handle all digital channels and the core experience for 6 markets (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, India, and Indonesia). We’re a centralized regional team that sits in the Singapore office, but we travel often to other countries to work closely on key initiatives and usability testing.

Our team currently has 4 disciplines: product designers (they do both interaction and visual design), UX researchers, UX engineers, and design managers. We plan to hire a UX writer and producer next year.

We do weekly design critiques, bi-weekly team meetings, monthly creative days, and quarterly retrospective meetings. We mostly use InVision to share the design among the team, and prototype design concepts and user flows.

Have you made any changes recently that have resulted in your team working more efficiently?

I created a new function within our team: design ops. It focuses on building our team, set our team’s mission, and re-think the way we do our job. We consider our job an opportunity to go above and beyond, so that might mean finding more efficient workflows to help our team get more done, spearheading a new project or technology, or becoming known as a subject matter expert who generously helps others get up to speed.

How do you keep everyone on the same page?

We use Trello for team meetings, tracking projects, roadmaps, etc. We use Slack for group communication, and we use InVision to communicate with the cross-functional team.

Do you heavily use any specific InVision features?

We use Craft to speed up our design workflow.

What skill do you think is undervalued in the designer’s toolkit?

UI animation is still undervalued. Those small details that people won’t notice much. Those small dots Instagram uses to show that there are multiple photos if you swipe is a great example.

What do you wish you knew when you were first starting out as a designer?

There is no perfect design. I started my design journey in visual communication and advertising, where whatever we design the output will mostly be exactly like our storyboard and design blueprint.

But with digital design, the paint never dries. Technology today won’t be the same tomorrow.

As digital product designers, we need to design for something that can change over time — and never fall in love with one design.


Read more about designing in the financial industry at the InVision Blog:

Inside Design: Wealthfront

Inside Design: Betterment