4 Things That Make Banking Websites Lame

There are a ton of bank and credit union websites out there that need a lot of love. How do you know if yours is one of them? Here are four common problems that plague financial institutions' websites, with tips to take any financial website from LAME to fame.

Consumers spent an estimated $143 billion last year on everything online from shoes to garden equipment. These people are also regularly visiting your website. But average users will spend no more than 15 seconds on your home page, so it’s your job as a marketer to create a positive impression and get your audience excited about your brand.

Unfortunately, many bank and credit union websites are pretty boring, and some are downright embarrassing. Granted, promoting HELOC rates and mobile banking isn’t as fun or sexy as other flavors of consumer marketing, but that’s no excuse.

So how do you know if your institution’s website is delivering an experience consumers expect and enjoy? Or is your website leaving people with a sour taste? Here’s a handy acronym you can use to tell whether your website is LAME or not?

“L” – Layout is a mess

If your site feels more like a “Where’s Waldo?” book than a sophisticated, technology-forward resource, then it’s time to come clean. Many institution sites suffer from a severe case of “information hoarding.” So banking home pages end up with a collage of promotions, news and everything else that institution stakeholders deem important. And internal pages often follow suit, with either too much or too little content, an unclear next step, poor visuals and inconsistency between page types. The result is a disjointed experience for users, an unfavorable brand impression, user frustration and ultimately an increase in call center volume.

What should your institution do? Define what elements must be part of each page type and learn to diplomatically say no to some internal stakeholders in favor of offering up a cleaner experience. Also, do a “5 second” test on pages to see if you understand what the page is about and what you should do. If you are confused, your users will probably be as well. Sometimes starting fresh with a site redesign is the best solution to your overwhelming layout woes.

“A” – Analytics aren’t being used to influence strategy

Most institutions these days employ basic Google Analytics or a similar site tracking tool. But that is typically where the effort ends. Website analytics can yield very powerful data “out the box,” and, with some customization, can guide marketing and other business units as key decisions are being made. Most institutions know that data and metrics are central to their success in the future, but most aren’t putting in the appropriate level of effort into the tracking system(s) they need. If your analytics are only used for the occasional PowerPoint presentation, then they aren’t helping you “connect the dots” between the site and revenue — time to reevaluate your strategy.

What should your institution do? Begin by defining the key metrics that your financial institution wants and needs. More robust metrics available in most website tracking systems include form/application submissions, and which links users are clicking on each page (the users’ navigation paths). Once you know what you want out of your analytics, you can work with your internal team or digital agency to determine how to implement the required code.

“M” – Mobile experience isn’t optimized

If your institution site is like most, mobile represents at least 15% of your total traffic, and growing every month. And if you don’t have an effective strategy to support this traffic, you’re missing out on great opportunities to communicate, cross-sell and acquire new relationships.

Responsive design optimizes a site for all devices, improving your website experience on mobile devices. Institutions that continue to provide a separate mobile site or stand-alone mobile apps are unfortunately behind the times. Responsive sites are now the norm.

What should your institution do? Look at your site analytics and closely track the percentage of visitors to your site from phones and tablets. Compare trends from month to month. Also pay attention to your bounce rate from mobile devices; if too many mobile users are popping out of your site too quickly, you need to make your online experience more mobile friendly. If you’re going to redesign, make it responsive.

“E” – Experience isn’t engaging

As a financial marketer, your job is to educate and inform while creating an emotional connection with your audience. Your website is the only 24/7/365 channel where you can do this, yet so many banking websites fail to deliver an engaging experience. Many institutions update promotions on their home page and create pages for new products, but they fall short when it comes to moving beyond one-way, monotone messaging. Great institution sites visually connect with their audience. They use technology like live chat and social media to foster a more personal two-way relationship. They follow best practices in UX, so that each page works as hard as possible to engage and incite visitors to take the actions you desire.

What should your institution do? Challenge your team to take a fresh look at your site. What feels tired and what new technologies have you read about, but aren’t yet implementing? Then take a look around — not just at your competitors’ websites, or even great websites in the banking industry. Look at what makes a great website in any industry. The best bank and credit union websites borrow best practices and technology ideas from sites outside of financial services, so bookmark sites you love and make a wish list for your next site redesign.

LAME or Fame?

If you suspect that any of the characteristics associated with a LAME banking website apply to your institution’s website, then it’s likely time to start seriously thinking about a redesign. With the right strategy, your website can be the centerpiece of your branding, sales and retention efforts.

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