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.
SMX East 2017 Recap
SMX is the conference for anyone involved in the search industry, both through organic and paid search. Held last week in New York, the conference brought together minds from private businesses, marketing agencies and search platforms including Google and Bing.
While there is no way to possibly to convey all the information that was shared during the week, here are 5 takeaways:
There is an unending stream of information related to search and digital marketing.
Want to learn more or just chat?
PPC, Social, and Your Website: What You Need To Know
What have been the most important aspects of digital marketing for PPC advertisers over the past year? According to a State of PPC report recently released, the answer is conversion rate optimization (CRO) and mobile, with agencies favoring the former and brands the latter.
The report also indicates that social advertising has been the third-most important aspect of the digital marketing industry for both advertisers and brands.
Marketers of all types have been paying closer attention to conversion rate optimization in recent years, per research from Econsultancy, with A/B testing and customer journey analysis among the more popular methods. Interestingly enough, although mobile and social are becoming increasingly critical for PPC advertisers, they’ve yet to break into the most effective PPC channels.
For the time being, that continues to be text ads, which 87% of PPC advertisers consider effective. Remarketing holds the next stop, cited by roughly two-thirds of survey respondents. These were also rated the top-2 most effective PPC channels in last year’s survey.
Nevertheless, a majority of advertisers are finding that both mobile (60%) and social (53%) are effective, and those figures represent increases from last year.
With digital and social marketing taking more of a role in marketing plans and budgets, is your website capable of handling these leads and converting them into new members? Here’s some questions to consider:
If the answer to any of those questions is no, or you’re not sure it might be time to get uncommn. We’ll be glad to do a free review of your website and provide strategic direction that can turn an online brochure into one of your best-performing branches.
But Is It The Best?
When the time comes to buy a car, you do your research. You ask friends. You question colleagues. And don’t forget about online data. Google gets a workout as you research makes, models, miles per gallon, safety ratings.
In fact, if you’ve made any major purchase in the last few years, you’ve probably devoted a lot of time to online research. But what about those smaller, everyday items? Google has released new information showing that our ever-present smartphones mean more and more of us are looking for information on things as seemingly mundane as a toothbrush.
The thing these searches have in common? A significant uptick in the number of searches that include the term best. Would you be surprised to learn that online shoppers are looking for ‘best safety ratings’ when buying a car? Probably not. But did you know that mobile searches for ‘best toothbrush’ have gone up over 100% in the last two years?*
It’s all part of a greater overall shift of users who aren’t just looking for basic information. Instead, they’re seeking to essentially crowdsource reviews and opinions on a product by adding the qualifier ‘best’ before their search.
So what does this mean for you? It’s important that you (or whoever is running your digital campaigns) are aware of this trend and is working to get your ad served on searches for things like the best auto loan and best mortgage for first-time buyers. This can’t be your only digital strategy but it is just one more tool in your belt.
Want to learn more about mobile and ‘best’ search trends? Click here to check out the Think With Google blog.
Desktop vs Mobile – Who’s Winning
Desktop or mobile device. Which is winning the war for eyes? The latest annual US Mobile App Report says we’re spending half of our digital media time with smartphone applications. Where does that compare to previous reports? The findings from this latest study shows that little has changed over the course of the past year.
50% of digital time captured by smartphone apps this past June represents only small change from 49% in June of last year. Desktop use, meanwhile, is holding steady: this past June, it accounted for 34% share of digital media time, compared to 33% in the previous-year period.
Are older American’s still considered “not tech savvy”? A comparison of the reports from this year and last shows that smartphone apps are gaining more influence with the youngest AND oldest adults, but haven’t made the same gains with other groups.
Specifically, smartphone apps accounted for:
Interestingly, enough, the increase in desktop usage share for 25-34-year-olds appears to have come at the expense of smartphones, of all devices! Desktops grew to account for 31% of 25-34-year-olds’ digital time this past June, up from 27% last year.
These are some good stats to keep in mind as you’re planning out your new website. While desktops are still being used, mobile is the clear winner for share of eyes.
2018 Web Design Trends
In 2018, web design trends will continue to focus on simplicity: simple typography, imagery and a neutral color palate. This concept, as well known by many designers and developers, has become accepted. More and more, developers are recognizing that this idea of simplicity can help users (both visually and productively) while keeping them engaged.
In easywebsite.uk’s article, “Website Design Trends for 2018: A Look Ahead to 1990,” five new trends are suggested.
Why We Build Our Website Using WordPress
2009: The Yankees won the world series. The Pittsburgh Steelers won the SuperBowl. Tiger Woods’ career took a turn for the worst. Coolio tried to stage dive, but no one caught him. It was also when WordPress was thought of as a fancy blogging tool.
While some things haven’t changed, WordPress has gone through quite the evolution. WordPress websites offer so much more than the handful of benefits you usually hear about. and it’s far more than the blogging platform it began as. WordPress is now the content management system all websites and blogs are compared to. Why have we chosen to utilize WordPress for our clients’ websites (and even ours)?
Those are just a few of the reasons we chose WordPress as our platform of choice for our clients. The importance of providing a product that was affordable, secure, and not something proprietary that would hold our clients hostage for years to come were our deciding factors.
If you’re tired of not knowing what’s happening with your website, or you’re holding a grudge against those guys who can’t find the time to return your emails or respond to service requests, we’d love to earn the opportunity to serve you.
Website ADA Compliance: What We Know So Far
In recent months, there has been a lot of talk about the need to make credit union websites compliant with Americans with Disabilities laws but, unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of clarity on the matter.
Here’s what we know so far.
Credit Unions are, by law, considered Title III facilities. Title III states:
“All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodation”
That means branches are open to and serve the public and therefore must meet certain requirements for accessibility. While this regulation has historically been applied to the physical building, it has been expanded to include things like ATMs and is now stretching to include the credit union’s online presence – your website.
Here’s where a lot of the confusion comes into play. The Department of Justice, which oversees ADA compliance, is supposed to be amending the rules for Title II and Title III facilities but there have been many delays. Title II, which covers state and local government, is still waiting for their final decision. Title III is expected to wait even longer. That means that as of this writing, there are no official regulations yet. It is important to note that just because the regulations aren’t officially in place, you are not immune from letters of compliance demand from organizations working on behalf of the differently abled. Some of these groups have begun sending letters with the intent of reaching a mutually agreed upon date by which the site will meet compliance standards. Remember, since your website is available to the public, letters of demand or complaint do not have to come from people who are current members of your credit union. Any person can claim that they access to your site and, as such, it needs to be accessible to them and their needs.
You may have heard talk of WCAG 2.0 standards. These are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for web developers. The guidelines include four areas of compliance which sites will be expected to meet: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable and Robust. These four areas seek to make your website content available to individuals with hearing, vision, cognitive or physical impairments. Click here for a list of specific criteria. These requirements don’t mean you have to have a static, black and white website that reads aloud the text for every user. Instead, they mean that the code of your website will need to be written to work with the personal settings of users who may have specific needs. That includes alt tags on images for visually impaired users who have reading devices for sites. It also includes the ability to turn off automatic navigations or page time outs for the cognitively impaired.
As mentioned earlier, the requirements are not yet set in stone but there are some things to consider going forward.
You may have heard the NON-WCAG compliant option called “The Domino’s Exception.” It stems from a website in which a blind plaintiff sued Domino’s, claiming their website did not meet ADA Title III regulations preventing the visually impaired user from using the site to order a pizza. Domino’s claimed that the website was not covered under the ADA and they offered a telephone option for users who were not able to use the website. It’s important to note that while the case was thrown out by a judge who ruled that the pizza chain met its obligation by offering a phone option, that judge did reject the argument that websites are not covered by the ADA. Instead, the judge ruled that the law was unclear and that Domino’s had not been given fair notice of what their exact obligation was in regard to websites and ADA compliance. This is an important distinction. The judge did not say websites were exempt, instead ruling that there simply isn’t enough information at this time to hold the company responsible. This means that down the road, when regulations are clarified, websites will almost certainly be held to ADA standards. It may also mean that having a non-compliant website may be allowed as long as an alternative method such as phone or chat is available.
While the regulations remain unclear, that doesn’t mean you are “safe” to continue using a non-compliant website. Organizations and individuals are still able to submit a letter of demand seeking you make your site more accessible. Often, simply finding a mutually-agreed upon date by which to make the site compliant is sufficient but as the official regulations are released, that may change. At the very least, the time allotted to make the changes will almost certainly get shorter. While there are still questions about the exact time frame for the regulations to be released, there is no doubt that this is coming and could potentially have a big impact on the way our websites are developed.
What does “mobile friendly” really mean?
Your current website provider has probably tossed around this term many times trying to upsell you. You may have read a blog or two about it on CUinsight or CBinsight, or any of the other various industry trades. But what does being “mobile friendly” really mean?
A mobile-friendly website is typically a responsive site which means the content of your full site is resized based on the size of the screen on which it is being viewed. That means removing certain elements or simply changing their placement so the mobile view is optimized for users.
With more and more consumers wanting to do business from their mobile device, it’s time to go beyond making your content mobile friendly. Mobile conversion rates (total number of visitors to your website versus those who complete an application or take other desired action)
are a lot lower than desktop conversion rates. People simply aren’t as ready to buy on the little screen as they are on the big one.
Several reasons have been proposed for why this is the trend:
Of course, those three statements will vary by generation and personal preference, but all three are things you can take advantage of if you develop a solid content marketing strategy. You can make applying for your products and services on mobile easier by reducing the number of keypresses. You can make it clear that giving info via your website is secure no matter what device they use. You can also make it really easy for people to begin filling in information on your website and then continue it from another device.
Think this might be impossible or a costly project needing the attention of your core processor or online loan app provider? Not the case!
On the recently launched HopeSouth Credit Union website, we included basic easy to fill out forms at the bottom of each page. While it’s not a full loan application (or even a basic loan application) it allows interested consumers to easily express interest in a loan or deposit account without giving a bunch of personal info or struggling with an outdated online loan app that isn’t even sufficient for a desktop anymore. The result? “We’ve received a record number of online applications within the first 30 days of launching this,” said Faye Crocker, CEO of HopeSouth Credit Union. Not only are they receiving a record number of online loan apps, but those apps are converting into new loans.
You may be thinking you have bigger fish to fry, but if your goal is new loan apps and growth this is an easy way to capture new leads, and even provide added convenience for your existing customers or members.
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.
Video and interactive content are great tools being used on many websites today for improving your site's user experience. Hint: Keep those videos on point, useful, and short. No one wants to watch a 10 minute video if only 20 seconds of it are actually useful.
5 Must-Haves for Your Website
Inc magazine recently posted an article that gave 5 common sense things you should demand from your website vendor when designing and launching a new website. We can’t guarantee this list will be relevant 6 months from now (as fast as trends are changing) but it’s a good start to add to your “must have list” right now!