Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Tash Milne 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

4th-year Applied Psychology (tech stream) student, specifically interested in the UX/UI design process, where user needs and behaviours are considered throughout

This project investigated an accessible design for people with low numerical abilities using an online banking tool

Many people, for varying reasons, have difficulties with numerical tasks. Mathematical abilities are required of us on a daily basis and low numerical skills or confidence, can lead to poor financial outcomes. Most people now bank online and use mobile banking tools that are predominantly designed for people without numerical difficulties. Features providing inclusive methods for carrying out numerical tasks have not been considered in their design. This study utilised a visually designed - non-symbolic mobile banking tool prototype. This prototype was designed by a masters user experience research student, in order to assess its usability and satisfaction with respect to user´s numerical confidence.


The newly designed mobile banking tool displayed money by resembling real banknotes and coins, as opposed to numerical symbols. The aim is to allow the user visually see and manage their financial balance and easily carry out banking tasks efficiently and with confidence.

The objective of this study was to investigate whether users with low numerical confidence found this design helpful in respect to its usability, compared to traditionally designed tools, and to discover any usability and satisfaction issues that could be improved upon.

Using a 2x2 factorial between-groups design, employing a mixed-methods approach (qualitative and quantitative), an online survey was distributed to adult volunteers via snowball (referral) sampling. Data and feedback from 61 participants (56% Female, 44% Male, with a mean age range of 42.63), including relevant demographics, was utilised for statistical and thematical analysis.


Statistical findings indicated a difference between how participants scored the two mobile banking tools but in favour of the traditional design and only in relation to its ease of use and satisfaction.

No difference was found in how participants scored the tools, with respect to their numerical confidence, except in how participants who expressed high numerical confidence scored the ease of learning for both tools.

There was no interaction found between numerical confidence and the visually design tool.

The thematic analysis revealed usability and satisfaction experiences of the visually designed tool that were expressed by participants.

Positively mentioned was the ease of use/convenience relating to simplicity, accessibility, and learnability. Functional issues and frustrations were also highlighted, specifically colour choices and the monetary visualisation elements causing difficulties.

A Comparison of Subjective Numeracy and the Usability of an Online Banking Tool

Findings of this study suggest that users with high numerical confidence find it easier to learn the workings of mobile banking tools and that users with low numerical confidence find these tools harder to use overall. 80% of participants in this study indicated a high level of online usage (meaning their technical savvy for using online applications would be higher).

This, along with other demographical factors found in the study, supports the important role that numeracy skills have in today´s digital society; from being able to handle numerical instruction to determining the importance of values.

However, there were limitations to this study that need to be considered, as they may have affected the outcome.

Theoretical and practical implications include expanding on previous research, pertaining to specific demographical indicators as being considerations for low numerical confidence/abilities.

As well as informing future versions of the visual design tool, improvements and further research could lead to innovation for individuals with low numerical abilities and possibly to establishing a non-symbolic number-based system within society.