Posted on 1/28/2020 in Business and Strategy
By Ellie Spinney
When you think about anatomy, you might picture parts of a body that are all interconnected to form a whole person. A website can also be broken down into parts or categories; these categories can be further examined on two broad levels: Functional and Aesthetic
What makes a great banking website? A good or bad banking website can, arguably, impact a person more than most other types of websites.
Why? We generally rely on these websites to do something functional for us - in lieu of walking into a brick and mortar bank and withdrawing money, we can easily - and from the comfort of our couch - perform the same perfunctory activities with little thought and effort.
Most people would like to be able to login quickly, access the products and services they are looking for, and be able to repeat these steps ad infinitum until they run out of money or banks cease to exist.
So what does this mean? This means that core functionality should take priority over creative design when examining what would make a great website for a bank. Despite a pretty exterior, if you cannot quickly and efficiently access your account or perform the tasks you need it to, you will find yourself frustrated and looking for another bank.
Some of the core functions of a bank include: accessing accounts, setting up savings, transferring funds, obtaining cash, looking into the rates of products they offer, providing instant support and customer service.
Functionally, these following key capabilities must exist, or the website will fail its user base - and drive membership away in search of a new home.
Let’s review some of the main core functionality you should expect to see in a great bank website.
Quickly accessing a login to your banking account should be the primary goal of any banking website. If you find yourself affiliated with a bank that does not highlight this key component, you should probably start shopping for a new bank now. There are a plethora of banks that offer this option, and it is a rare website that does not feature this option.
Note: Some websites do intentionally hide this option on smaller devices, and drive the user to the online app instead. Many banks invest a great deal of time and money into developing online applications for their client base, and will drive their users to use them. Phone applications seem to offer a smaller attack surface for any security concerned users, however, a good website will offer good encryption to protect it’s membership. Applications also offer the added bonus of utilizing the phone’s built-in security settings, such as fingerprint readers and facial recognition.
How does a person reach their bank? They usually go to Google, and type in the name of the bank and wait for a result. Generally, this can work, but if the bank has several branches nearby or the customer has specific needs, such as the need for wheelchair access, or a cash deposit box, then the customer is better served by visiting the website of the bank itself to search for a branch that features these options. A good banking site will offer the ability to view and search a branch by its map location and filter the branch by the features that it does or does not have. Some good banking websites also offer the ability to search for ATM locations or affiliated branches that also serves the same customer base.
Customers are also looking for rate information - rates determine what actions the customer could potentially be making in the near term, such as buying a home, refinancing, saving more money, or investing. Rates are a way for a bank to demonstrate to existing and potential customers what they offer. A well-designed website will feature these rates in easy to view places, such as the homepage, and sprinkle them throughout the website in order to keep this important information in front of the customer no matter where they are.
One recent development in the world of website banking is product feature pages. Banks with some web-savvy realize that a customer can come to their website with a specific product in mind - be it mortgages or purchasing a car. Instead of clumping all of this information together into one page, modern bank website designs feature a well designed and interactive landing page for the customer to find when they are looking for this information. In many cases, a well-designed website will feature relevant keywords and SEO to highlight the features of that product for that particular bank. In this way, the bank can advertise to potential customers what options they offer through search engines like Google, which will rank relevant information based on the relevance of the content. A product landing page is a good way to rank a banking website and will entice future customers to sign up for more information regarding the product the website is featuring.
Social media for social proof; A potential customer might want to know what kind of bank they are considering using. Does this bank have many customers? Do they care about responding to customer concerns or communicate effectively about closures or holiday hours? A properly managed social media account, connected to their website will demonstrate this effectively.
Responsive Design is necessary - to have a website in 2020 and not allow a user to utilize their phone or another device is going to make the website much less appealing to the public. Trying to log into your bank account on your phone when the login window is microscopic will send customers fleeing. A responsive design is required.
Visual badges are another great way to prove to your audience that you are both trustworthy and have enough awareness of security trends to protect the customer’s investments. Be wary of those sites that do not have this.
So what about design? Isn’t design important when creating a new website? There is little disputing the fact that designing a new website can be invigorating and enjoyable for anyone, and a bank is no exception.
The key to a good design is highlighting the core functionality needed for a good banking website. Is the login located in a clear and easy to spot location? Does the user have enough room on the page to enter full contact details without having to squint or scroll? Are visual badges easy to spot? Does the locations page offer a way to search and filter the bank locations available? All of this is relevant information when designing a page.
It is also important to think through the branding guidelines of that specific bank that is creating a new website. Do they have a color scheme determined? Have they updated the logo or designed a new one that they want to incorporate into the new design? Whatever the content, the style guidelines need to be consistent and kept in mind when creating a new design for a website.
Your target audience needs to also be considered. Does the bank have a client base that is all 21-35 and interested in local culture? Will bright and lively colors give this audience a better impression of the overall look and feel? Or do they mostly cater to a crowd that is nearing retirement? Perhaps solid earth tones will appeal to this demographic, or they may require a larger font for reading the text on the page. Does the bank attempt to cater to all and enjoy balancing both audiences equally? What interests or hobbies do customers enjoy? Are they urban or rural? Answering these kinds of questions will give you a good start down the path to targeting the right audience for any website.
When considering design, the audience frame of reference is powerful and gives a website an edge because it meets the needs of its user base. If you want to learn more about different personalities some banks are showcasing, you can read about how other banks are showcasing theirs here.
Designing a website should be an enjoyable and creative experience; when applying the basic core functionality of the best bank website highlighted above to these designs, the outcome will be a website that is both visually pleasing, and useful.
Looking for help on how you can make your banking website more customer focused?
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