Welcome to the U Account Production Team Blog. Here’s where our technical team will be able to talk about how we’re using our technology to solve real-world challenges. It will be about our successes, failures, challenges and experiments. We will cover design, testing, development, analysis and the methods we use to get projects live and whatever else we think is interesting and worthy of this blog.
Who we are and how we came to be
U Account is aimed at people who may have rejected, or been rejected by, the traditional high-street banks. For people who have had financial challenges in the past, it can be a struggle to get themselves back on track financially and avoid further debt.
We have built a fairly priced digital current account, with no hidden charges or overdrafts, designed specifically to help people change their spending habits, avoid unnecessary debt and set money aside for the things they need.
U Account went live in October 2016. Prior to that we also built and ran a number of other products under the brand of Ffrees, so we have a lot of experience with the many technical challenges fintech players face.
We have a relatively small production team that has grown over the years. Currently there are just 12 of us across development, design and testing, with a handful more on product and project delivery. If this blog inspires you to come and help us then there is a good chance we are hiring – please do check out our careers page.
What are we made of?
We have built a fully functioning current account with agency banking features, on top of a prepaid platform provided by a number of third-party suppliers. This means we can offer direct debits, faster payments etc. We were the first people to attempt and succeed with this build in the UK.
We are built primarily using two languages, PHP and Go. PHP is primarily used for what it does best, serving the website to the customer. Go, similarly, is used for what it does best: large amounts of resource-intensive backend processing.
We have built a service-oriented architecture all hosted and managed in the cloud, and are continuously looking to improve customer experience and the stability of the platform. As part of this, we are looking to move our entire infrastructure from Rackspace to AWS, to make use of their plethora of tools.
As well as the migration to AWS, we are also working on mobile app improvements, PayPoint integration, an event-driven communication suite and a long, but well prioritised, list of projects, as well as just keeping the lights on.
Owing to the service-oriented architecture, and integrations with different third-party service providers, our systems are API intensive – designed and implemented with long-term vision and goals, strict peer reviews and rigorous testing in the integration environments. Time, effort and emphasis is assigned to the proper design of changes and new implementations.
The front end of U Account is currently in the process of being refactored. We are moving from our previous approach to a new frontend architecture that consists of:
- Component based SCSS using BEM, which involves breaking down our UI into manageable components inline with atomic design principles.
- Our CSS class names are categorised and namespaced to help us quickly identify the purpose of classes in our markup.
- We also use a modified ITCSS (Inverted Triangle CSS) CSS file structure, created by Harry Roberts, to organise our CSS and keep any specificity issues in check.
All these aspects make our front end as maintainable, flexible, and robust as possible.
There you have it. We hope you enjoy our writing and our attempts to build a platform that does the right things in the right ways to help us help our customers. Our first few posts are live, so please read on.
Tash has written about the new designs for the My Cards section of our app.
Samuel talks about cross-browser testing and the challenges of multiple devices.
David has described the challenges and approach around our new balance displays.