Many people live by the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That folksy advice might be useful in some situations, but not when it comes to websites. To be competitive, a website needs regular updating and maintenance. That doesn’t mean the site’s user experience has to be on the bleeding edge of design trends but it should always follow best practices for site navigation, layout, and design to maximize usability and organic SEO.
3 Website Fails You Must Avoid
Millions of websites fill the Internet. Tens of thousands of those are part of the financial services industry, but many of them provide a less than desirable user experience. Even some of the websites for the largest financial institutions could be better! However, unlike those big guys, you’re probably not pumping millions of dollars into your site or into the advertising that is driving people to it, right? It doesn’t mean you can’t compete (in fact, smaller financial institutions can be more nimble and reactive to trends). You just have to be smart, provide something better than the other guys, and avoid the common mistakes those bigger guys make if you want to see your website provide an easy experience that can help your current customers and members (and event potentials) do business with you. Here are three of the most common website fails we see, and some tips on how you can avoid them.
Remember, as technology constantly evolves, things can change behind the scenes of a website. Old formats may fall out of favor (like Flash giving way to HTML5), and these legacy elements of your site may appear broken in newer browser versions. Or worse, they can also slow your site to a crawl, making it difficult for users to navigate.
Slow and infrequently updated websites also rank lower in search results, as search engines assume that infrequent updates equate to out-of-date information that’s less relevant to the user.
How can you avoid these common issues?
Be uncommn and update your site regularly. At the very least start a blog on your site and use it to keep fresh content flowing. At the best, develop and execute a content marketing strategy that will keep users coming back to your site and mark you as an expert in your field. We’ve talked about content, but what about looks? You should update the overall look and feel of your site at least every 2-3 years to keep it feeling contemporary and up-to-date with the latest design trends.
Speaking of outdated sites, avoid building something that looks great on a desktop or laptop computer, but does not convert to a frictionless user experience on mobile devices such as phone and tablets. Although today’s mobile devices are much better than their predecessors at showing content on non-mobile optimized sites, the experience is still pretty awful. If not optimized for mobile, content will typically extend beyond the edges of the screen, be too small to read, and may limit functionality (e.g. menus that open only when hovered over with a cursor).
Why is this so important?
Because the number of people viewing content on a mobile device is now higher than the
number of desktop users, and it continues to grow at a fast pace. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile you may be discouraging more than half of your users from spending time on your site.
Good news! The fix is pretty easy: optimize your site for mobile viewing. Once, this meant building a completely separate page your site would redirect users to when it detected a mobile web browser. Modern site building technologies, however, allow for responsive designs that automatically change site layouts to view perfectly on mobile devices. Bad news… if your site is too old you may not have the option to optimize it for mobile viewing and will need to start from scratch with a brand new website.
Have you ever searched for something online, found a site that looks promising in answering your questions, but couldn’t understand what they were trying to say? Maybe this was due to overuse of technical terms jargon, bad grammar or slang?
It happens all the time on bank and credit union websites. Or worse, you visit a site looking for something specific, but there’s no relevant content on the site? It has happened to most of us so you understand exactly why someone would immediately click the back button and look for something more useful.
Take a step back and imagine that you knew nothing about your own industry (take banking for example). What might bring you to a site like yours? Maybe you’re looking to buy your first house or buy a new car and need a loan. What problem is your site solving for that visitor? Is it providing information that identifies the issue and explains how to
solve that problem using the product or service listed on your site, or just jumping to the conclusion that they should buy? Did you write your content at a level that the normal consumer could understand? Or did you unknowingly fill it with a bunch of technical terms you use every day, assuming that the general public understands it?
This is another place where a blog or content marketing plan comes in handy. People searching the web are often in need of answers as badly as products or services. Just saying you have the greatest loan rates in the world means nothing without some explanation of what the loan is useful for, or more importantly how to apply for that loan. Thoughtful content can provide all that information, and a blog can help answer many questions capturing significantly more leads, upselling others, and engaging your audience in a way that helps them see you as both an authority and a trusted advisor.