Four things to consider when building your new credit union website

Last month, I wrote an article about the process we take to build a credit union websites in just four months. This establishes our thinking when it comes to CU Grow’s process to build websites that sell and will help to provide context for the information below.

So while it’s not required reading, I would highly encourage you to review this article before venturing onward.

Building your new credit union website should be treated as a process.

In other words, your new website needs to be viewed as an entity in your organization that can be continuously optimized and improved over time. But even before you get to that point of optimization, your new website initiative must begin somewhere.

Below are just four of the dozens of items we work our clients through when building new websites in four to five months using Growth Driven Design for credit unions.

And while you may choose to ignore the principles of Growth Driven Design in your next website redevelopment project, I would encourage you to consider these ideas as they will provide a sense of purpose and direction for you and your team.

  1. The Purpose of the Website Must Be Defined

    Like any character in a story, your new website will fill a specific role in your organization’s narrative. Will it be just another glorified brochure with a bulleted list of product features? Or will it be the central focus of your digital growth engine, a true digital marketing and sales platform, that guides consumers through their buying journey?

Let’s consider the evolving consumer:

“Current data indicates eighty-one percent (81%) of consumers in the U.S. today
start researching banking products online.” – Bankrate

  • “50% of consumers report searching exclusively online for financial services products. They are typically first drawn to a product before settling on a credit union brand.” – Filene
  • “Banking shoppers used on average 8.9 sources of information to help them make their purchase decision.” – Google

After guiding dozens of credit unions through our Digital Growth Blueprint engagements, we find many fail to keep up with these changing behaviors of their consumers. There’s usually a disconnect as to the purpose of the website in the organization, especially at the executive and board level.

To help provide clarity and confidence for these organizations, we conduct half-day workshops with key executives and stakeholders with one goal in mind: education. Because as consumer behavior continues to evolve, marketers must continue to learn and train others within their organizations as to how digital assets, including the website, will provide value for consumers.

So instead of starting discussions about wireframes, designs, or overall structure, simply begin by defining the purpose of your website. A good question to answer is, “Why does our website exist?” This often yields deeper discussions about your financial institution’s purpose, or “Why does your credit union exist?”

  1. Defined Consumer Personas Steer the Website’s Direction

When guiding credit unions on these website endeavors, it’s necessary to determine the intended audience of a new website to provide direction and focus. In other words, you can ask, “Who are we trying to help in our community?”

These discussions typically start with a broad perspective, like wanting the new website to appeal to anyone who lives, works, or worships in a certain geographic area.

But regardless of if your financial institution is located in the rural countryside of the Midwest or a metropolis on the East Coast, the communities in which you operate are made up of smaller market segments.

The basis for persona development are outlined in our consumer persona worksheets in which we answer the following questions:

  • What are the general demographics of this persona?
  • What are the persona’s questions or concerns?
  • What are the persona’s hopes and dreams?
  • What are the values of this persona?
  • What are the lifestyle behaviors of this persona?
  • What products and services are applicable for this persona?
  • What media channels (both traditional and digital) are applicable for this persona?

And through the development of several different consumer personas with our clients, we can better understand who their current and ideal members are. As a result, we can develop a comprehensive website, from design to content to imagery to even calls to action, for these consumers.

  1. Historical Analytics are Invaluable

Once a group of consumer personas has been clearly defined, the next step is to assess the financial institution’s current website’s performance. This analysis typically involves an in-depth review of their current website architecture, Google Analytics, live user testing data, website surveys, and various heat maps.

A majority of today’s credit union websites are a bloated mess of unnecessary content and information, and this analysis helps us to understand what pages and information are truly necessary for the new website.

For example, in a recent website initiative, commoditized product features, like Estatements, Bill Pay, and Remote Deposit Capture, had their individual pages, yet historical traffic to these pages didn’t justify migrating the existing content to the new website. We were able to consolidate these features into one page with visual icons and short descriptions. And if questions arise from our clients as to why certain pages are not migrating over to the new website, we point to the historical analytics as to the basis for our decisions.

Furthermore, these analytics allow us to understand how people are visiting the website. What devices are they using (desktop, tablet or mobile)? What has the trend over the last few years been for each of these devices? What are popular pages people are viewing from a mobile device? From a desktop?

Historical analytics allow us to better understand past website performance and eliminate flawed assumptions when building a website from (mostly) scratch.

  1. Mobile First. Mobile First. Mobile First.

Notice how this is simply not “responsive design.” Like other buzz words in the industry, we receive numerous RFPs and have various discussions with prospects in which the primary goal of the website is to make sure it’s responsive.

To that, we respond, “Table stakes.”

What’s more important, and often overlooked by credit union marketers, is the content for these responsive sites. Much attention is spent reviewing and refining the design and visuals of the new website, while the content, for the most part, is quickly and quietly ported over. In fact, our website assessments continue to find much of this content has survived numerous versions of the website.

But this text heavy content is not optimized for mobile consumption.

And we hear this from consumers.

After conducting hundreds of user testing sessions of various credit union websites, the primary complaint shared about contemporary financial institution websites is that there is simply too much text. In fact, one user tester exclaimed, “No, there’s no way I’m reading that.”

Content is just one part of this conversation. We must also consider mobile delivery at each step of the consumer buying journey. If we were to start this from a product landing page, what is the experience of a consumer who clicks on the “Apply Now” CTA? If they were to go through the entire online application, what would then happen?

Yes, responsive design is a must for credit union websites.

But what value does that bring a consumer when the sum of other website elements add up to a negative experience?

Learn more about building a website that sells with this downloadable guide from CU Grow.


Jonathan Lay

Jonathan Lay

As Senior  Advisor at CU Grow, Jonathan Lay helps banks and credit unions use digital marketing to tell stories that sell. He brings over a decade of digital marketing experience ... Web: Details