Five Tips for Improving Financial Service Firms’ Website Performance

Web Design Tip #1: Less Talk, More Action

In the early days of the internet, financial services firms, like many other websites, believed that the benchmark for a great user experience was to enthrall site visitors with dynamic elements, and as much content as possible. The thinking, at the time, was that all this information would encourage visitors to linger as long as possible and explore or learn about all that there was to see.

Firms eventually came to the realization that the primary reason most investors come to their site isn’t to "learn", so much as it is to "do". When investors want to learn, they Google it and unless a site's encyclopedic volume of educational content is highly ranked on Google, it will, for the most part go unseen.

Fast forward to today. Content and capabilities are being streamlined to adhere more tightly to meeting users' needs and the "nice to haves", unless serving a quantifiable purpose, are starting to disappear. The layers of random calculators are thinning down and tools are being presented where most relevant and helpful.

Financial services firms have finally begun to abandon the more is more mentality.

Web Design Tip #2: Rethink Education Sections

Whether it’s learning about the markets, retirement planning, asset allocation or the importance of diversification, online investor educational materials are missing the mark.

When we ask firms if they are satisfied with their utilization stats for those materials, with the very occasional exception, they all say, "Not even close". Yet, “Education Centers” remain in existence waiting for the enthusiastic visitor seeking knowledge while in the process of submitting their address change request.

As an improvement, we would like to see fewer "Education Centers", "Resource Centers", "Tools & Resources" and "Investor Education" sections. Although far more sites are placing these materials where relevant and likely to be utilized, far too many continue to relegate content to one area, expecting visitors to seek out the materials and get educated.

Don’t overwhelm your visitors or your website with resources people don’t use.

Web Design Tip #3: Focus on Security

Security resources have improved by leaps and bounds over the years. The unintelligible seas of disclosures about firms' security measures have evolved into Security Centers that contain an impressive array of highly actionable materials.

Case in point, Edward Jones' incredibly robust offering of Fraud Awareness resources that support customers in recognizing and avoiding potential online security threats.

What remains incomprehensible to us is the continued hiding away of security resources.

Firms devote a great deal of effort to providing sophisticated Security Centers, reporting capabilities, checklists, links to 3rd party fraud and security resources, and additional content, but how does one know it exists if the only access to it is from a security link within the page footer?

And, what if there is in fact a current security event of which visitors should be cognizant? Unless they are highly proactive about keeping abreast of existing security threats, they will be completely unaware of them.

We recommend security resources be given more prominence!

Web Design Tip #4: Enable Human Connection

In today’s online environment, the human factor is more important than ever before. One of the major promises of the internet was that it could connect people in ways that weren’t possible. For financial services firms, the opportunity exists to have their digital content connect people in a conversation about financial well-being.

There has been a distinct rise in the emphasis on engagement; social media engagement, inviting engagement with site content, the ability to share content with others, requesting meaningful feedback and suggestions.

We would like to see more flexibility in the content that can be engaged with. The ability to share company details, educational resources and market information has become standard; the ability to share a product page is less of a foregone conclusion.

Coming back to security, what if visitors actually locate the security resources and wish to share that security quiz that they've come across? They should be given the ability to do so.

Don’t just make your content shareable, make it share-worthy!

Web Design Tip #5: Use Data to Drive Effective Design

Websites today can provide owners and design teams with incredibly granular data on traffic patterns and engagement. With so much data available, designing and planning websites involves less guess work. That said, websites don’t exist in a vacuum – it is not only important to know how your own website is working but also that of your peers and competitors. After all, how can design teams truly gauge what an “above average” experience looks like without understanding the landscape of other financial services websites?

Fortunately, DALBAR has the perfect tool for digital teams interested in understanding how to create effective digital experiences for financial services websites.

Coming in Quarter 4-2018, Dalbar's Trends and Best Practices: On the Web report will provide the most in-depth analysis of financial service firms’ web and digital experiences, and what strategies and tactics firms are using to respond to the rapidly changing online environment.  

Using this kind of data as part of the planning, optimization or monitoring phases of a financial services website is crucial to understanding what features or design elements are being used by the industry and how your web presence needs to adjust to respond.

Use data and insight to work smarter and get better results!

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For more information about the upcoming Trends and Best Practices: On the Web report or to order your copy, please visit this page: https://www.dalbar.com/catalog/product/135 

  • By Shelley-Ann Eramo
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  • 6/6/2018
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About Lou Harvey

Louis S. Harvey
President & CEO

Founder and leader of DALBAR, Lou Harvey is relentless in the search for the forces that are shaping the world of financial services today, tomorrow and for years hence. Using Dalbar’s research capabilities, Lou Harvey seeks insights from inside and outside the industry to understand and anticipate changes in customers’ needs and the ways products are distributed.