BID® Daily Newsletter
Nov 4, 2022

BID® Daily Newsletter

Nov 4, 2022

Is a Hard-to-Navigate Website Costing You Opportunities?

Summary: Continuous reviews of your website’s user-friendliness can be the difference between a positive customer experience and a lost opportunity. A study by Forrester concludes that a well-designed and easily navigated website can increase your conversion rate — the rate at which visitors take actions, like submitting a contact form, that directly solicit your services on your site — by up to 400%.

Season four of the US version of “The Office” finds Michael Scott, the regional manager of paper company Dunder Mifflin, and Dwight Schrute, his self-proclaimed “assistant to the regional manager,” driving a gift basket to a country club to win back a lost client. As many of us do in our daily lives, Michael relies on GPS to guide him to his destination. But Michael’s blind loyalty to his GPS proves problematic when he ignores Dwight’s warning that the directions don’t make sense, and drives straight into a lake.
Michael’s experience is funny because of its relatability. After all, who hasn’t had their GPS try to send them the wrong direction at some point? While most people will persist and look for alternate routes, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to navigating a website. If getting around your community financial institution’s (CFI’s) website is not easy to do, there is a good chance people will simply move along to a competitor’s site.
Navigation Best Practices

Having great content on your CFI’s website is important, but only if users are able to find what they are looking for quickly and without the need to click back and forth through multiple links. According to Forrester, websites that have a well-designed user interface can yield up to a 200% increase in conversion rates, with that number rising to as much as 400% for sites that feature great designs. Well-organized website navigation can also help boost your organization’s search engine optimization (SEO), meaning it will rank higher in search engine results.
Since people typically visit your website with a specific reason in mind, the navigation bar on your site should be in an obvious location — typically across the top of the page or down the right or left side — with simple categories that clearly state what type of content each category offers. Navigation tabs should be specific, as labels that are too general such as “tools” or “resources” are ambiguous and may frustrate users. Essentially, people should be able to navigate your site intuitively. Research has found that the average person will only spend 15 seconds searching for something on a web page before they lose patience and move on. Enable existing or potential customers to find what they are looking for with as few clicks as possible.
Consistency is also key. The primary menu featured on your homepage should be located in the same place, with the same appearance and functions on every page of your site. The general rule of thumb is to feature no more than seven main categories on your navigation bar, with fewer being best. Consistency and navigability are also key across the different devices that people use to access your website. The navigation bar may work well on a desktop or laptop, but if that ease of use doesn’t translate to tablets or cell phones, it could mean lost opportunities for your CFI.
The navigation and organization of your website should also have a user-friendly design for disabled people so that everything is just as accessible for this group. Not only does implementing user-friendly capabilities for disabled users enhance their customer experience, it can also help boost your site’s SEO.
The Importance of Frequent Reviews

Even if your CFI recently updated or re-launched its website, it is important to have multiple people dedicated to continuously monitoring your content, its overall navigability, and its user-friendliness. When reviewing your website’s content, consider the following areas:
  • A robust site search tool. If your site features a search function, your team will want to build it with standard web heuristics in mind, to ensure it functions well enough for a site visitor to find it helpful, rather than frustrating. Also, place the search box in a tried-and-true spot in the site’s header where most visitors will instinctively look for it anyway.
  • Easy customer service access. Customer service contact details should not be buried at the bottom of the page or difficult to use but should be prominently featured on every page of your site. People are accustomed to live chat functions and real-time access to help, and this is something they expect from financial institutions.
  • Clear & simple calls to action. Any call to action on your site should be equally easy to engage with, such as an “Apply Now” button for submitting a loan application.
Beyond looking at what already exists on your own website, your CFI’s navigability and user-friendliness reviews should include taking a look at what your competitors are doing and how they are organizing their sites. Features such as banking dashboards have become popular because of the quick summary they can provide customers of all their accounts and services. Data visualization has also become a popular way of providing information in a quick and clean way that is easy for customers to digest, from charts to infographics and graphs.
Your CFI’s website is a customer’s virtual window to your business. No matter how appealing the products and services you offer, a website that is poorly laid out and difficult to navigate is comparable to drawing the shades and hiding your business from the world. It also increases the chance that visitors will move on to competitors with more user-friendly sites. As long as your team stays up to date on best practices for usability and regularly assesses your website’s effectiveness, it will be easier and more manageable to keep your website par with the competition.
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