The structure of text messages (SMS)

Financial services based on text messages (see article “Increased use of SMS in Spanish financial institutions”) allow users to perform operations and receive information from the mobile phone.In a context of mobility there are usually other elements that compete for the attention of the user. The user will only dedicate a partial attention to the interaction with the service and can have:

Problems of understanding. It may be difficult for the user to understand the content of the entity’s messages because they will not devote their full attention to their analysis.Memory problems. It can be difficult for the user to remember certain information if he is distracted by other themes or elements.The success of an SMS service is closely related to its ability to counter these problems. The user experience will not be positive if the messages sent by the entity are difficult to interpret and require too much user concentration to handle them.

How should the messages be?

One of the aspects that have been studied in the number of Good Practices “Text messages in financial services: SMS Banking” and which affects in a clearer way the ease or difficulty of interpreting a message is its structure. The information should not be distributed randomly but in an order that facilitates its understanding.

The structure of text messages SMS

The information has to be distributed according to two criteria:

Contextualise the user before offering specific information. It is often good to anticipate key information about the content of messages to facilitate their understanding.Place the most relevant information first. Because messages are read sequentially, from top to bottom, the most important content must be placed as high as possible so that it can be read quickly when the message is opened.
With these two criteria in mind, the structure proposed is the one shown in the following image.

Identify the entity clearly

In order for the user as soon as he or she begins to read the message to put it in context, it is best to identify the entity clearly at the beginning of this.All messages sent by the entity should indicate their origin to facilitate their identification and understanding, generate trust and offer an image of professionalism.Users are accustomed to identifying the sender of the messages they receive, from the telephone number from which the message was sent. If the service number does not seem familiar and your text is too generic, you may have doubts about its origin. Therefore, it is best to explicitly display the sender’s sms sending work you can visit this link ( and check out practically.

The identifier should be:

Short. It is not advisable to use a very long identifier because this would move the rest of the message content down. It is best not to take up more space than the first line of the message.Clear. The user must clearly identify the entity and have no doubts about the meaning of the identifier.The message in the lower left-hand image does not provide any clue as to whether or not there is any relationship between the number 9999 and the entity. The message on the right, however, clearly identifies the sender of the message at the beginning of the message.

Give clues to the content of the message

In general, when a user is anticipated information about the text to be read, it is easier to interpret. The title of a story or the subject of an email, for example, makes it easier to understand. In text messages it is advisable to provide information of the content of the message if it is complex and the user may have trouble understanding it.To take advantage of this resource, the subject must be located before the information to be interpreted. In this way, when the user reads the content of the message already knows what it is about, which facilitates its understanding.In the example of the lower left image, the user is not provided with any clue to the content of the message. Reading the first screen the user may have doubts about what it is. On the right, the word “Help” indicates that the content of the message is helpful.

Make information relevant to the user visible

In order for the communication to be efficient, the information requested by the user must be clearly identifiable in the body of the message. Ideally the user would be able to scan the message and immediately locate the information that is of interest to him.

To facilitate this, it is recommended:

Provide relevant information on the first screen. If the information that interests the user does not appear on the first screen, it will not be visible the moment the user opens the message.Do not show data before the requested information that may confuse the user. If what you are expecting is an amount in response to your query, you will scan the message by looking for numbers to find the data of your interest. If the requested amount is the first number that appears in the message, it will locate it easily and quickly.The following messages correspond to the response of a balance query. Finding the relevant information for the user in the message on the left is difficult because there is much data formatted similar to the balance of the account prior to this and it is difficult to deduce at a glance what is the data that the user is looking for. In the image on the right, the balance is the first number visible in the message.

Help the user to continue operating

The next steps are data that inform and encourage users to continue operating. It is additional information in which not all users are interested and should be placed at the end so that it does not obstruct the reading of the main content of the message.

Include information from the following steps, can be used to:

Tell the user how to find out about available operations. Inexperienced users may confuse operations or not remember them. This additional information can help them continue to operate.Suggest operations. Users who use one type of operation may be interested in other similar operations. In this part of the message you can remember their existence.Promote new services and operations. Some users may feel annoyed if they receive a propaganda message on their mobile. However, if you provide related information in addition to the information he has requested, you may find it of interest.At the end of the following example, information is provided about an operation that users may be interested in after performing a balance inquiry.

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