10 Features of Great Banking Websites

What truly makes a bank or credit union website great? Here are some tried and true best practices every financial institution should follow when planning a website redesign.

1. Prominent links to top pages

People don’t visit their institution’s website because they are looking for somewhere to spend their extra time. They want to get to things quickly so be sure to research what your top pages/links are, and feature them prominently. For most institutions, this minimally includes Online Banking login, Branch/ATM locations, Contact and Rates.

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2. Intuitive site navigation

Most people will go to an institution’s home page, login to online banking and leave the site. While this is efficient for them, it’s a nightmare for financial marketers. Creating an intuitive site navigation structure is important to help visitors explore other pages and features of the site. Before a site is redesigned, it needs to be re-architected to ensure that the navigation structure is intuitive and scalable. Effective sites utilize “mega menus” to drive people to a 2nd and 3rd level deep from one click, as well as site search, internal page navigation and breadcrumbs to further assist users.

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3. Responsive design

3_responsive_website_designResponsive websites are now the rule for institutions, not the exception. Offering a seamless and consistent user experience, responsive design allows a single site to serve audiences on all devices and orientations. If your analytics show that the percentage of mobile traffic to your site is at least 10% and steadily growing, responsive design is a must for your redesign.

4. Great content management system

Your site should be built on a powerful content management system (CMS) that meets all of your institution’s needs. Some of many basic considerations for institutions include ease of use, features, security, 3rd party integrations, SEO-friendliness, responsive design support, analytics tracking and ability to personalize content for audience segments. It’s also important to decide which type of CMS will work best for your institution (proprietary CMS, open source or licensed). A great looking site that is hard to manage is not worth your frustration.

5. Powerful content

Content is more important than ever to a financial website, offering visitors useful information, tools and resources to make better decisions with their money. Messaging should be simple and consistent, and organized in a scannable format for users to digest and take action. Content should also be written with SEO best practices in mind, particularly if your institution is in a defined local market. Additionally, great sites focus content around visitor’s needs, offering solutions, educational information and varied content types (e.g. videos, infographics).

6. Defined search engine strategy

Traffic resulting from organic search engine results can be a tremendously powerful tool in your inbound marketing toolbox. Every institution wants to be highly ranked but few play their cards right in the planning and execution stage to achieve their objectives. A defined search engine strategy at the onset of your redesign project will ensure that you are selecting a SEO-friendly CMS, working with an agency with proven SEO skills, and have a defined content plan to support your goals.

7. Striking design

7_striking_designYour website’s design is the first impression that your audience gets. Your site design should be visually consistent with everything else your audience sees – from your branch to your statement inserts to your emails. And, your design should be unique, uncluttered and well-planned so it can keep up with your institution’s changes. Ideally, your site’s imagery should feel distinct and appeal directly to your geographic footprint and specific demographics, successfully balancing branded photography and promotional graphics. Each element of your new design should have a clear strategic purpose, align with your brand promise, and should send the right message to your audiences.

8. Clear calls to action

8_loan_ratesEvery page of your website should have one or more calls to action, typically in the form of a button, as well as a link to that action within the body well. Want people to apply for that home loan? Include an “Apply Now” button prominently on the page, typically placed above the fold, where the user won’t miss it. Whatever you do, don’t use the words “click here”. Not only is that not descriptive for the typical user who is invariably scanning the page for exactly what to do, but it’s also not ADA compliant, a common requirement for institutions. The best FI sites make the calls to action clear and thereby assist the user and funnel conversions.

9. Prominent help

10_help_buttonWhen people visit their institution’s site, they are often seeking help. It is not a coincidence that Contact Us is one of the most popular pages on bank and credit union sites. Make sure that you provide a clear link to your Contact Us or Customer Services pages, and provide alternate ways for visitors to seek help, such as Live Chat and phone. Additionally, group helpful pages together in a menu, such as FAQs and other resources.

10. Analytics tracking

Most sites implement standard analytics tracking code and call it a day. Great bank and credit union sites go beyond the standard and add additional tracking and set up goals so they can better measure the effectiveness of the site. The idea is to better measure what is working and what isn’t so you can tweak your plan – and your budget.

Conclusions

When building or rebuilding a website for a bank or credit union, it’s wise to select a vendor who has specific industry experience and can help you navigate the process. Come to the agency with all of your short and long-term goals and challenge them to develop a custom website that others will hold up as the gold standard.

Michelle BrownMichelle Brown is the Director of Marketing at ZAG Interactive, a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT that has built hundreds of bank and credit union websites. You can call Michelle at 860.633.4818, or send her an email.

This article was originally published on September 9, 2014. All content © 2018 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Comments

  1. What about the ability to open accounts or apply for a loan on any device and switch seamlessly between website, tablet, mobile and voice throughout the process?

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