Redesigning Telebirr for a Better User Experience

31 min read
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We redesigned Telebirr's user interface to make it more user-friendly and enjoyable to use.

What is Telebirr?

TeleBirr is a mobile payment app developed by Ethio Telecom that has taken Ethiopia by storm. It allows users to send and receive money, pay bills, and make purchases directly from their mobile devices.

The app was launched in May 2021 and has since grown in popularity. It has over a million downloads on Google Play Store with an average rating of 4.2 stars and over 10,000 reviews.

Why This Redesign?

TeleBirr recently introduced the TeleBirr Super App which added more features and other mini-apps inside it. While the idea of the super app adds more convenience to users, it also makes the app very complex.

Many users have criticized the app’s interface for its complex navigation and cluttered screens. This often hinders users’ ability to quickly and efficiently carry out transactions, causing unnecessary delays and confusion.

Yes, the Super app is new, but the Telebirr app has been around for two years. During that time, its user base has grown to over a million. It may be acceptable for an app with a few hundred or even a few thousand users to have usability issues. However, it is embarrassing for a giant corporation like Ethio Telecom to have an app with over a million users which is frustrating to use.

We believe the Telebirr super app is promising and has lots of potential. No doubt about that. However, as one of the leading local apps with over a million downloads, it is disappointing that it is not up to the standard it should be. Other apps will be taking inspiration from Telebirr, so the app must be improved to meet users' needs.

We hope the app's developers are already working on improving this, but in the meantime, we wanted to give it our own take. Let's jump right in.

The Goal

The goal of the redesign

  • To propose a seamless and easy-to-use payment platform that users will enjoy using

The goal for us

  • To better understand the principles of user experience and user interface design.
  • To challenge ourselves

User Research

We started our redesign process by trying to understand the pain points of the existing users. The easiest way to do this was to go through some reviews on Play Store and Apple Store. Luckily we found a lot of relevant reviews.

In addition to the public reviews, we conducted an online survey of 16 users. We asked these users about their experience with the app, how often they used it, what features they used frequently, what frustrated them the most, and what they would like to see improved.

Based on the survey and the public reviews, we identified the following main pain points.

  • Users found the interface cluttered and overwhelming
  • Users had trouble finding features quickly
  • Users found the animated elements annoying and distracting
  • Some users wanted to be able to stay logged in for longer

In our redesign, we will focus on resolving these four pain points.

The Redesign

To keep this short, we will focus on two screens of the app. The Login screen and the home screen.

The Login Screen

This is the screen users see when they open the app every time. The user interface of this screen is acceptable, but it can be improved in a couple of areas.

The Good

  • The user interface is simple and easy to follow.
  • Users only need to enter their phone number on the first login. It will be saved and automatically filled in for future logins.

The Bad

  • The animated welcome text is annoying and completely unnecessary.
  • The “create new account” and “help” buttons are not readable.

Proposed Solution

The first change you’ll notice in the improved design is the color. We brought back the blue from the previous Telebirr app because it’s often associated with trust and security, which are essential qualities for a payment app. Research on the psychology of color has shown that blue is often perceived as being calming, reliable, and trustworthy. Plus, the Telebirr logo is blue, so it made sense to use that color throughout the app.

The user interface is now improved, but what about the user experience?

The app currently has a short session period, which requires users to log in every time they open the app, even if they used it a few minutes ago. Some frequent users found this inconvenient. The short session period is a security measure, but what if we can find a balance between security and convenience.

To improve the user experience for frequent users, we propose these two changes:

  • Directing users directly to the PIN entry screen. This would allow them to log in more quickly and easily.
  • Adding a "remember me" feature. This feature would allow users to stay logged in for a longer period if they choose to do so.

The first login screen would still be there, but it would only be shown to first-time users or when users want to log in with a different phone number.

The Home Screen

This screen is the worst-looking part of the entire app. The image above says it all, but let’s dive deeper.

The Good

There isn’t any. Just kidding. Almost everything you need is on this screen. However, finding a specific feature is almost as hard as finding Waldo. So we are not kidding.

The Bad

The UI lacks meaningful structure. This makes it frustrating and time-consuming for users to find what they need. Users may eventually adapt to the app's layout, but the initial learning curve is unnecessary.

This screen is also suffering from readability issues. The poor color choice, busy backgrounds, and the lack of hierarchy make it challenging for users to easily find information.

In addition, there are distracting elements, like the text that says "ONE APP FOR ALL YOUR NEEDS!". This app truly is an app for all your needs, if your needs include irritation. It's clear the goal is to grab users' attention towards these promotional texts, but it's annoying for users who are trying to complete tasks. Users should be able to focus on the app, not on the promotional text.

Proposed Solution

Here is the redesigned home screen UI.

  • We removed distractions to help users focus on the task at hand
  • We categorized the features into four groups to help users find features quickly
  • We added a customizable quick actions section where users can add their most frequently used features
  • We made the interface simple and easy to navigate

Here is a final look at the before and after of the user interface.

Wrapping it up

In conclusion, our unofficial redesign of Telebirr’s user interface was a challenging yet rewarding experience. We wanted to highlight the importance of putting users first when making design decisions.

By focusing on the user experience, we were able to create a more intuitive and user-friendly interface that we believe will enhance the mobile payments experience for Telebirr’s users. We hope that our redesign will inspire others to think creatively and put users at the forefront of their design process.

It is important to note that our redesign is not a perfect solution. There may still be other pain points that we did not identify, and there may be ways to improve upon our design. However, we believe that our redesign is a significant improvement over the current Telebirr user interface.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the redesign. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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