Low online prices and special offers are great, but do they actually help you build credibility with your credit union members or bank customers? The latest research might surprise you!
First impressions continue to be most important to respondents of a recent research study conducted by the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, Consumer WebWatch and Sliced Bread Design, LLC. 46% of overall respondents ranked web site design as their number one indication of credibility.
The research indicated that typical web users "relied heavily on the surface quality of web sites to make credibility judgments." Most bank web site visitors spend very little time on a page, moving rapidly to the next. The research concluded that web users have developed very fast methods for determining whether a web site is worthwhile, and overall design appearance is the most obvious indicator.
Comments such as these, quoted from the research report, about the first impression of poorly designed web sites were common:
The design is sloppy and looks like some adolescent boys in a garage threw this together. — F, 48, California
Looks childish and like it was put together in 5 minutes. — F, 25, Maryland
"Slick" design isn't necessarily the key to success either; instead people feel most comfortable with a look that is professional and polished, especially dealing with a bank or credit union website.
According to the research, web users "make judgments about the people behind the site based on the design look." Many sites that were designed to be "slick" or "glitzy" yielded comments like this:"It looks like it's designed by a marketing team, and not by people who want to get you the information that you need."
The study indicated that people seek a professional, clean appearance that includes proper use of layout, typography, white space, graphics and color schemes. Good design not only includes graphical elements, but also takes into consideration the site's information architecture.
The Art of Information Architecture
While much deliberation concerns database architecture, it's information structure that helps determine how usable and credible a site really is. Sites that were easiest to navigate were seen as being more credible.
Credible web sites communicate this quietly via organization and a well-executed strategy to place information within two clicks of the visitors mouse, which runs counter to a site that purposely confuses and misleads a user toward advertisements and other promotions.
Ultimately, a bank or credit union web site must communicate information to visitors, and needs to do so quickly without causing confusion or frustration. The information pathways must be clear and easy to use, and if they're not, any credibility gained through pleasing graphic design will be swiftly destroyed.
Striking a Balance: Easier than You Think
A progressive and forward-thinking development partner can manage graphic design and information architecture planning simultaneously, thus reducing time to market, adding value and reducing overall cost of the engagement.
Crafting a design that begins to instill credibility within the first few seconds is an interactive and collaborative process. We bring our design expertise to the table and combine it with our clients' intimate knowledge of their customers needs and expectations.
The end result is a web site that demonstrates the credibility of the organization behind it through professional, aesthetically pleasing graphic design coupled with clear pathways to concise, relevant information.
Increase Credibility, Earn New Business Leads
If your site isn't turning visitors into new customers like you think it should, it's time to consider redesigning the site. With minimal investment, sometimes less than $1000, you can create a fresh new look for your site that will impress visitors and draw them deeper into your site.
Talking Points: Design Deliberately
- Build on your corporate brand identity with colors, tag lines, mission statements.
- Don't "overdesign." Use restraint when it comes to flash introductions or other animations.
- Let your audience be your guide. Involve them in design review and hold their feedback in high-esteem.
- Utilize professional designers with strong web site and interactive development skills. Ask to see a portfolio. If you get quizzical stares, look elsewhere.
- Talking Points: Place Information with Logic and Clarity.
- Review all of the things you want your web site to communicate. Then weight it against what your web site needs to communicate.
- Segment this information by importance, and plan moving the crucial content front and center.
- Lesser utilized information should still remain accessible, albeit not the focal point.
- "White-board" the activities your web site visitor will conduct. If the flows are complex and drawn out, your visitor will most likely find only confusion and not the information they're seeking.
Top 10 Credibility Factors
- Design Look
- Information Structure
- Information Focus
- Company Motive
- Information Usefulness
- Information Accuracy
- Name Recognition
- Information Bias
- Writing Tone