Financial services website design | The 7 pillars of great financial websites

Financial services website design | The 7 pillars of great financial websites
31st October 2018

Find out how to plan successful financial services website design

The importance of financial services website design is arguably more important than many other sectors of industry. Websites aren’t just a sales tool, they’re more readily used as a self-service portal for customers of financial institutions.

Banks, building societies and other financial institutions need to cater for the needs of just about every type of customer. These discerning customers access their savings, mortgages and financial well-being via the online branch of their favourite financial firms. A misplaced decimal point or misunderstanding of a calculator can cause angst for thousands of customers.

To succeed in this competitive landscape. Institutions need to ensure they exceed the 7 pillars of great financial services website design

What are the 7 pillars of great financial services website design?

1. Gain the trust of customers

An organisation’s identity online and offline should be consistent and reflect the same brand messaging to create a streamlined experience for clients. Financial websites need to look authoritative and official, so customers can differentiate from the deluge of spam emails and fraudulent messaging that exists in the modern digital landscape.

How your brand is perceived can be impacted if this isn’t taken into account. The typefaces, tone of voice and colour palette should reflect offline experience and marketing. The website should feel familiar for existing clients and accurately emulate offline services.

2. Security at every step

Security in the financial sector is crucial. In recent years cyber risks have evolved significantly and customers are more aware of data breaches. Building a website with a robust infrastructure is fundamental for financial services companies to gain their customers’ trust.

If the design of a website doesn’t look secure customers simply won’t have the confidence to use it.

To establish the trust and loyalty of customers, the design needs to include subtle reminders of security. There’s a few ways to achieve this:

  1. Set-up Https Encryption to securely transport customer data. This quickly tells customers and Google that you’re following best practice to protect their sensitive user information e.g. credit card details. Communicate this across every page in the site.
  2. Transparency with legal compliance signals to customers that your business is professional in handling their data and well-informed of data privacy regulations. Taking the lead to remind customers to regularly change their password for instance builds trust that not only does your brand care, but are knowledgeable about being safe online.
  3. Allow for flexible customer experience in the website structure. Navigation that allows customers to change their minds, or go back to a previous page during a form completion, can help build trust through empowerment. Nobody likes to feel trapped.
  4. People trust authenticity. Design a website that reflects the human side of a brand. Gives a true insight in to the people behind the business. Provide opportunities for customers to share experiences. This all builds trust and a feeling of security.
  5. Flaunt your security badges. If your business takes steps to improve website security e.g. protect customers’ data, updating firewalls or training staff on security then display these accreditations. It’s reassuring to customers that your business has their finger on the pulse and they’re in good hands.

2020 Building Societies Digital Census Kagool

3. Ease of Use

Financial services companies are starting to prioritise ways to differentiate customer experience. 36% of businesses in the sector reported that they will aim to achieve this by making the experience easy, fun and valuable over the next five years. Using an experience management platform like Sitecore can help building societies, banks and other financial services businesses achieve this with a portfolio of tools in one place.

Financial services website design that is driven by user experience can help increase conversions, reduce costs and deliver a great ROI. There’s a number of aspects to consider to create a great user experience, these include:

  • Navigation on the website should be clear and signpost users to travel around the site easily.
  • Content focused design that accommodates different devices and languages. Using features like Sitecore personalisation can show the most relevant content to the user, keeping them engaged with the brand and creating a positive UX.
  • Consistency across all devices. User experience design should underpin the whole customer journey.
  • Customer centric design will consider personas. What the user wants from the site and how the design can meet those needs. Don’t be afraid to get feedback, listening to users can only assist in improving the UX even further.
  • Help the customer at every stage by making it easy for them to access other means of support. This could be a form to submit an enquiry, access to a real-time human web chat or a telephone line that can talk customers through difficult stages of a financial transaction.

Read our UX guide to learn more about how to offer a great user experience on your website.

4. Accessibility across devices

We’ve moved progressively into a digital world with instant gratification for services that are always switched on. Whether it’s booking a room through an app or streaming music, services and products are increasingly only a click away.

The expectations of financial services customers are no different.

Innovation in this sector has been rapid. Fintech companies have changed how payments are carried out and the growing popularity of financial services apps has raised client expectations. Financial services website design can’t afford to ignore being mobile first when users are expecting them to be seamless, accessible and intuitive.

The website needs to be accessible to Google. 98% of all mobile phone users search for information on their device. Google facilitates over 3 billion searches per day. That’s a lot of potential website traffic for financial services organisations to miss out on if their website isn’t designed to be indexed for mobile on Google.

Mobile first design will also prioritise website speed. It’s no use having a beautifully designed website if users can’t find it on Google and when they do it takes too long to load. Those prospects will simply leave your slow website and find a competitor’s site that loads quickly on their device.

5. Evolution not revolution

Great websites change with emerging devices, product development and in response to customer feedback. The demographics of customers that use financial services are hugely varied, from 14-year olds opening a new account to 80-year old’s collecting in their pensions. They all rely on the website to service their finances and this innovation must be carefully measured as it continues to grow.

The financial services sector is in the midst of digital transformation and whilst it’s encouraging to see some organisations embracing new technologies, the evolution of their websites and wider digital estates must be gradual. Financial services website design that changes suddenly risks alienating audiences. Each change must be measured and tested to take existing audiences on the evolution journey with you, rather than leaving them lost or confused about how to use and access their preferred services.

Website design that evolves too quickly can have negative impacts on both customers and the business. The sudden changes and unfamiliarity can cause frustration and uncertainty, resulting in unhappy customers and an increase in support requests. Not only does this cause an increase in workload for the organisation, it might end in losing customers.

Digital giants like eBay, Google and Facebook are frequently evolving their websites to improve their user experience and generate business. They achieve this through incremental changes, each time rolling out the new UX features or designs with a tested audience first before bringing the wider audience on board through transformation.

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6. Subtle selling

When a user logs on to a financial services website it’s a great opportunity for marketers to create a personalised user experience for their customers. Organisations that use an enterprise level platform like Sitecore can use Sitecore personalisation to drive conversions through an improved user experience.

When a customer accesses the website, financial services marketers have a snapshot of this person’s financial information. By segmenting customer bases into personas marketers can show the user content that is relevant to them and signpost them clearly to services that might benefit them whilst aiding conversions.

For instance, a customer might be in a strong financial position so steering the customer journey towards investment opportunities could be relevant. The profile of the customer can also aid with cross and up-selling.

7. Make content useful

A recent Econsultancy report found that only 7% of financial services organisations have prioritised creating compelling content. This is more than 50% less than the average for other industries, leaving the sector falling significantly behind for its content marketing performance.

Content is vital to financial services website design for several reasons. The first being its impact on Google’s search results. Google is responsible for 74.5% of all search queries and so optimising content for Google should be paramount to marketers that want to be visible to their target audience.

Not only does content help to get your brand in front of relevant audiences that are searching for the financial services and products you have available, it also is great at driving conversions. Businesses that use content marketing are seeing a conversion rate of 2.9%, which is 1.4% higher than those that aren’t utilising content as part of their digital strategy.

To get the most from those conversions, financial services like building societies need to regularly post content to attract high volumes of traffic. Organisations that publish a minimum of 16 posts per month gain 3.5 times more website traffic than those that only publish four per month or less.

How to put this in to practice?

This can be difficult when compared to other industry sectors. Its more sophisticated than simply creating a great brochure with good SEO and a contact form that’s easy for visitors to use.

You need an experienced digital partner with years of experience. We’ve worked in the sector with the likes of Principality and Skipton Building Society for years. Our experienced teams are here to help you. Contact our award winning team of Sitecore specialists that includes 6 globally recognised MVPs to plan your next financial services website project.