Bank homepages in New Zealand – a review

Westpac NZ has launched a new website. They are using Silverstripe, so that means they can more rapidly make changes going forward.

That’s good, because the site itself is a mess:

There is far too much going on. If you want to, say, calculate how much a home loan would cost, then on mouse-over a huge sub-menu appears, and while you are pondering where to go next the scrolling display keeps flickering in the background. It’s all very frustrating.

But banks are marketing to younger people, looking for new accounts, mortgages and other financial products to take people in for life. Is this the required new norm perhaps?

I would argue no — and that this moveable clutter appeals to very few people, regardless of age. Perhaps the clutter is there to satisfy the needs of a large committee, each member of which wanted to make sure their favoured piece was on the home page. Perhaps each piece has been micro-analysed and user tested in the labs, in Edsel like fashion, missing the overall impression. In the real world the website (which is flickering in the background as I write this) is simply a mess.

I give Westpac’s homepage a 3/10.

What appeals to everybody is something like this:

Let’s not kid ourselves, a website like Apple’s for a large bank is almost impossible to produce. There are so many conflicting internal demands and politics.

So let’s be fair and quickly rate the other NZ bank site home pages.

BNZ’s homepage is good. I can see that that are wanting me to switch mortgage providers, and they provide a handy calculator right on the front page. I don’t care about the notebook competition, but the other links and menus seem to be obvious starting points for various actions. The menus do not thankfully, explode across the page when moused over. It feels professional, a little dated perhaps, but utilitarian and fairly safe. The login screen is lovely.

If they were really smart then they would remember that I’m a customer (albeit unlogged in), and tailor the home page to my needs.

Overall I give BNZ 7/10.

ANZ’s homepage looks good, better even than BNZ’s due to less clutter and more focus on the key desired action — checking out the home loans. It feels professional and crisp, fast and safe.

However with one sweep of the mouse it all falls apart in a screaming mess of menu expansion hell:

Wretchedly unusable. 4/10, but with strong potential to change as burying the appalling mouseover menus would transform the experience.

Kiwibank performs well. They clearly want me to learn more about their business accounts, and they clearly want me to check out their interest rates. The menus work as they should. Logging in is still somewhere else and ugly and despite the home page call to action, there is no way to sign up to a business account without talking to a human. That hasn’t worked well for them or me in the past.

It feels dated and non-transactional, competent but a webpage advertisement rather than a functional site for a bank. It feels more up to date than BNZ, say, but not as rigorous or trusted.

Overall it’s pretty bland, feeling static aside from the call to action itself, which is excellent. I give it a 6/10.

National Bank, which is getting ever closer to absorption by ANZ, has a competent website. The menus on the top are not from the ANZ expanding menu hell playbook, and the site is uncluttered and clear on the call to action.

Their login screen is stark, but had a little more design love than some others, albeit from back in 2003 or so. And that’s the feel of the homepage to me – dated, static and pretty boring. I’m not excited about joining up, and the reminder that switching home loans is not without cost isn’t a positive one.

5/10.

Wow. ASB is the only bank that understands that most people visiting the site are already customers. The login screen is front and center, and the call to action (the security alert) is obvious. Delete the alert and the login piece moves up, making for even less clutter.

For non customers ASB seems to recognise that they arrive at the site already motivated to check ASB out, and they guide these people down an “Experience ASB” path. Within 2 clicks I was reading a “how to switch” page which emphasizes that ASB does all of the hard work of switching. It’s fantastic, and they are not chasing low value customers who switch for lower rates, but are looking to form longer term relationships driven by better customer experiences.

To be fair the experience fell away a bit off the home page, but as this piece is only about the home pages I’m giving ASB a 9/10 and a “very well done”.

TSB’s site is not credible, and it needs to be a lot better than the others, as they start from a size and reputation disadvantage. They clearly want to lend or borrow money, but aside from the Facebook link offer the could be from 1998. There is no credibility, sense of trust or sense of depth of service. That’s a real shame as I’m sure they have a great story to tell.

2/10

The Co-operative Bank has some real issues. Their website looks still like the PSIS, their logo is in the wrong place and — well this just isn’t at all credible is it. This needs some serious decluttering and understanding of what their main purpose actually is. The CEO position is vacant (or it was a few weeks back), and fixing this should be high on her agenda.

1/10, but on the upside a huge opportunity for the new CEO to attack after she first walks in the customer and staff shoes for a bit.

Overall

It’s hard for banks, as they see that their customers and prospective customers have very different needs when they front up to the homepages. They have departments which are responsible for various parts of the business, and each wants the chance to reach customers from the home page.

But they should all, excluding ASB, take a big step back, and ask themselves why they exist as a bank, who visits the website, and what they want them to do.

Most visitors will be customers, so why not get them logged in and working as quickly as possible? Why not drop a cookie or two so that you know when a customer returns, and what products to put in front of them as they login? And why not concentrate on what prospective customers really want — an easy way to get out of their current awful banking experience.

Walking in the customer shoes is the first thing the new Co-operative Bank CEO needs to do, but it’s also something that every other bank executive should also constantly be doing. Come and visit people in their homes, at work and on the road, and understand how your customers use your service. Drive the required change from the top, and get everyone else out there experiencing how it is.

ASB seems to have done some of this — understanding that high switching costs are the main barrier to switching, not prices. They understand that the ASB website is primarily for customers, not prospective customers. They undersand that we don’t want to think and get lost in clutter when we head to a bank home page.

Banks largely have customers for life, and so it’s been a while since I saw many of these screens (I’m with BNZ). However while the front pages of the larger banks are full of glitz and glam, examining the login screens felt like a peek behind the curtain about what the customer experience is really like — and it wasn’t pretty.

Here are the personal login screens for each bank in order of my feeling for their quality. I’ve also shown the homepage scores from above. Check them out — which bank would you rather be with?

Coop bank scored 1/10 for their homepage

TSB scored 2/10 for their homepage

Westpac scored 3/10 for their homepage

Kiwibank scored 6/10 for their homepage

National Bank scored 5/10 for their homepage

ANZ scored 4/10 for their homepage

BNZ scored 7/10 for their homepage

ASB scored 9/10 for their homepage

This wasn’t preordained. I rated the bank homepages as I saw them, and separately sorted the login screens. It’s not at all surprising that the order is almost exactly the same though, as the ability to understand and meet customer needs is the underlying factor behind both efforts.

ASB is the only bank that demonstrates that they know what customers want, and their site really did genuinely surprise me on first visit. Some of the other banks seem trapped behind their own internal counters and systems, and really are missing the point as far as we customers are concerned.

However while there is plenty of room for improvement, the required change isn’t as simple as a website team project — it needs to come from the top, and it needs company-wide alignment around a customer cause.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
This entry was posted in NZ Business and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Bank homepages in New Zealand – a review

  1. Without wanting to stick up for some of the horrible design that is in bank websites, some of the rankings above seem pretty artificial. Just because the ASB page is aesthetically more pleasant to you doesnt mean it actually converts better. Just take a look at the feedback from actual users (some of who are rabid trolls and some of who are more useful) to see the difference: https://www.asb.co.nz/story24587.aspx?utm_source=Logout&utm_medium=Carousel&utm_campaign=NewLook

    I dont know if it is enough to use pop psychology and analytical approaches to understand which of the above websites (given the actual audiences and real usage) actually work to achieve the organisations objectives. I’d think that despite their confusion that the mega-menus actually convert ok.

  2. Wanjun says:

    I worked on one of the mobile banking app, I’d like to know what’s your view about those mobile banking apps, will you still give ASB the best rating for their mobile app. Thanks

  3. Having just today praised the Westpac redesign, I find my opinion lampooned… quel horreur!

    I do have to concede about the drawdown menus.

    But reverting to the ‘look at those terrible ones overseas, you don’t know how lucky you are reasoning’, benchmark against http://barclays.co.uk and https://www.wellsfargo.com/ in the global market and you might be a bit kinder in your conclusions.

    I think Westpac have done a good job, and Silverstripe should be proud of the effort.

    The other thing is that Westpac have an ongoing investment in their online banking service – ANZ haven’t upgraded their design or performance since I left the bank 8 years ago. You STILL can’t get bank statements beyond 90 days in a digital format!

  4. Jim says:

    I dislike those windows that pop out when the mouse pointer hovers over them.

    The NZ Herald website is a classic example. You’ll be moving the mouse to click a story, but a popout menu covers the story link if you mistakenly navigate over it.

    Rabobank are a fairly popular nz bank — but they use popouts also.

  5. stephbeath says:

    Hey Lance – who do you bank with?

  6. morbandit says:

    Have you guys been into ASB’s Lambton Quay branch? It’s horrible – and the stuff are rude and inefficient.

    My girlfriend was in there asking for some financial information in relation to her account, and the lady behind the counter started loudly asking her personal financial questions and expecting her to answer them – meanwhile there’s people queuing directly behind us and at counters left and right of us.

    What’s more, they don’t even let you talk to a real person – they force you to sit in front of a computer with a camera so you can have a Skype call with a “personal banker” who’s probably not even in New Zealand.

    I would never bank there – no matter how nice their website is (and it is pretty nice).

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