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Top-Down & Bottom-Up Design

To maximise the adoption of a new e-payment system, it is crucial that the usability factor be actively and systematically taken into account during the design of that system. A top-down approach is one that centres primordially on business strategy and commercial arguments. Most importantly, it also implies a heavy stress on the development of new security solutions in terms of hard- and software. Thus, a top-down approach may very well produce a system that works efficiently but it does not guarantee that the system will be trusted and used.

A bottom-up approach centres around the system’s end-users – not only on their functional requirements, as it is the case in traditional usability, but also on their preferences, concerns and expectations. It is noteworthy that such a user-centred approach does not only inform the design of the user interface. Indeed, it also gives valuable insight into how and via which communication channels the system should be presented when it is launched.

The bottom-up design approach can be very effective to test the acceptance of new payment technologies by consumers. For example, an international bank has conducted extensive testing of people's reactions to using a biometric device for authentication in their electronic banking system. The system included a thumbprint scanner embedded in a computer mouse and developers were unsure whether people would accept this technology in exchange for a higher level of security. The user tests indicated that their customers were actually quite receptive to this technology and not as concerned about issues of privacy when using the biometric devices as had been expected.

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Last modified on 27 june 2004

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