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Global Economics

Bad Bank Web Sites Deter Customers

Analysts say poorly designed sites, including when it comes to educating about security, are discouraging customers from setting up accounts online

Banks are still scaring away customers with poorly designed websites, which bamboozle users with 'bank speak' or distract from the content and functionality by using flashy graphics, according to analysts.

Despite a 57 per cent increase in customers researching financial products online over the last four years, the online application process for getting a bank account is far from smooth, research from Forrester Research found.

Brad Strothkamp, Forrester Research senior analyst, said "The [online] experience doesn't match expectations." Only eight per cent of those surveyed actually bought a current account online in the past year, despite 25 per cent using the internet to research possible current accounts.

The first hurdle most banks stumble over is website navigation. Research conducted by Forrester into nine European banking websites found web-wanderers have to fight through unwanted corporate info, gratuitous graphics and 'bank speak' jargon.

Strothkamp said: "You might have the right content but it's no use if it's difficult to use," adding: "Think about graphics and how much they lead the consumer to what they want."

The next obstacle banking websites fail to overcome is presentation with tiny fonts, conflicting link colours and poor use of space making it difficult for users to pick out the useful content.

Banks are also failing to provide easy access to information necessary for decision-making.

Strothkamp added: "Most of the content we saw didn't answer the questions we asked, or answered the wrong questions."

And the final hurdle sites are falling at is completing the sale by failing to educated customers about security.

He said: "When we ask customers why they haven't applied online, they say 'I was concerned about security or privacy of my information'."

Branch locators, clear and visibly secure online application forms, and confirming the sale via summaries and follow-up emails will help users feel more comfortable about using a bank's website to set up an account, Forrester's report stated.


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