Hi, I'm Tyler Willis and I've been helping businesses optimize their digital marketing and web development efforts for over 10 years. I excel at teaching and helping companies understand complex digital solutions, and applying them to their businesses.
An effective website must enable users to quickly and easily navigate and find the products or services that will resolve their specific needs. Sometimes, the user already knows what they're looking for, but a negative experience can cause them to abandon the site and look for an alternative business.
Is your website gaining or losing customers due to its user experience? Do the page layouts keep the user focused? Is the page copy clear?
In this blind case study video, we're going to look at Bellwether Community Credit Union of Manchester, New Hampshire and what we think they could do to improve the design and user experience of their website.
Today we're going to record another one of these live website review case studies. We're on ZeroToDigital's New Hampshire Business Ranking page. We'll sort it by industry here and select "banking".
You can see we have 12 results currently. We'll go with Bellwether Community Credit Union today. You can see they're ranked top 189,000 globally with 5,000 pages indexed in search engines. That's pretty good exposure when you consider all websites globally.
Let's go ahead and click on their website and check it out. The first thing I noticed, of course, was the big member notice at the top - their branch hours, etc. That's helpful for members. I understand that they desire to get this information in front of their members. They're obviously important - you want to have customer retention.
I think that you could make an argument that it kind of deflects from a new user/new website visitor to see this before anything else. We'll go ahead and close that and take a look at the page.
They have a standard scrolling banner across the top - home buying, earning rewards, making money when you use your debit card, and saving money on mortgage closing costs.
Scrolling down - I see a lot of typical things - a lot of standard icons, long lists of links in the footer, this little mid-section here which almost doesn't look like it's part of the site. Maybe it's an image or something ... I'm not sure how it works. Clicking on any section opens up the same information. Anyway, that might just be a bug there.
We see the rates which is helpful. You might not have the information in front of you as far as how their rates compare. Actually, it looks like they have a New Hampshire average rate comparison listed so that's great.
I guess there's some helpful information here for sure. There's a lot of standard stuff which - icons, of course, I'm not against them. They can be a good accent to any text or graphics on a website.
Generally, for a banking website or credit union, I've seen sites that are a lot busier than this so this site is pretty clean. Especially the top navigation bar. There are a lot of links and it looks like they don't open sub-links on hover. I can see this visually and not get too overwhelmed.
It's good that the user is able to understand one thing at a time. Be able to take and digest or interpret it in a simple way, so this is good.
Let me see if this is a search functionality here - I'll type "loan", for example. I can see some search options here and I see a preview of my results under the search input. That's cool.
A lot of websites have search pages but a lot of them aren't very helpful. This looks like it has some good information. "How can I apply", "How do I automate", etc. If I'm not a member of Bellwether and I'm just visiting this site, you probably have a specific reason why you're visiting a site like this.
For example, you're trying to learn something about their services to see if they're a fit for what you're looking for. So, doing a search for something specific is helpful.
One thing I would say, quickly, is that I've navigated back and forth now and previously I closed out of the member notice at the top and it keeps reappearing. You probably want to keep this hidden.
So, I'll just click on "Bank" here and now I can see some sub-links. Let's take a look at a basic page - checking, and something else I've noticed with banks is there are a lot of branded names of different things. Here, you can see "MyMoney" account or "Live Free Checking". Now, I don't understand all that goes into it - some of those might be 3rd party with certain partnership agreements or contracts that require they call them certain things.
But when I'm just a regular, non-banking person, I don't know what "MyMoney" account means or "Live Free Checking". I just want to open up a checking account. Which one do I click on? It's a bit confusing.
We'll go ahead and click on the first one and maybe that's what I'm looking for. Now, if "MyMoney" does have extra benefits more than just a regular checking account, then maybe explain what that means. But reiterate that it's a standard checking account as far as "hey, you're looking to open a checking account? This is a checking account with some additional benefits".
Maybe that's just me. Maybe I'm nitpicking there, but that's just my first thought when I saw that and have seen it in the past.
So, back to the overall layout and design of the site. We have a call-to-action at the top - actually 2. The first takes you to a subdomain where it looks like you fill out an application form. The second looks to be another form here to schedule a meeting to learn more information.
I like how there are a couple of options there. It looks like the image is stretched a bit. The call to action across the type is fine, then we get more into what it is. It looks like we have some links to some other types of checking accounts here underneath the CTA. I might put those further down the page because they might be distracting since I clicked on the "MyMoney" account page. We don't want to distract the user.
Then we have some information, some benefits, some disclosures. Then "refer a friend", but I'm not a customer yet so maybe don't try to get me to refer someone yet. Try to convert me first and then follow up in an email or something afterwards and ask.
Then it looks like they have this little other thing - "Sign Up, Swipe, Save" which I think we saw on the home page. But this is something else that's different. And ClickSwitch, Live Free Checking, etc.
The chart looks helpful - allowing us to compare the different checking accounts. This is great. This is what we want to see since we don't understand the differences between the checking accounts. We can review and see which account makes the most sense for us.
This chart, honestly, should be at the top. In the navigation, I would just put a general link for checking accounts and then compare the different types. In the navigation, I didn't have a choice but had to click on one of the options.
Then there's some additional services or benefits, another call to action, maybe a few more benefits and then frequently asked questions, and then we're down to the footer.
I mentioned making this more of a generic checking account page, moving the comparison up. I would remove all of this stuff in the middle because they're other things if I understand them correctly. Let's just focus on checking accounts.
Let's click on this "Live Free" and see if it's the same thing. Call to action at the top, then content, but this one doesn't actually have the comparison. There is less content even though it's another checking account. But overall the design/layout is the same.
Let's go somewhere else - mortgages, first-time homebuyer. This page should be direct, right?
Another call to action at the top so that must be the standard template. The call to action is good but what's not that seems to be standard is all of the links beneath it that go to different pages. Some of them are still relevant - "Meet the Home Team" that'd probably be who you're working with. But they're still sending me to other places.
If the links are part of the sales funnel - if I might want to navigate through them before making a purchasing decision, then let me get there but don't throw them all at me at the same time.
Maybe have a CTA or even move it down. Maybe start with something like this message directed at first time homebuyers. Let's get right to that where they're relating to you. They understand the concerns, the pauses and questions. Then they promote their experience and why you should choose Bellwether. That's great.
Then it looks like we have maybe different mortgage options? This might be nice to have some sort of table comparison.
Let's check out one other page - community and then blog. Let's check out their blog section.
They have a list of content previews and categories. It looks like it could use some design tweaks - one image is too big and another is too small. Honestly, I would rather you focus on pushing out content then worry about making it perfect from a design standpoint, so that's fine.
This post is from today. I'll just scan the content real quick. Budget-friendly vacations - looks like they're trying to create content that relates to their typical members. Families, people with kids, people trying to be smart with their money or don't have much but are still trying to travel and vacation.
And then I see sort of a call-to-action at the end which is great at the end of the content. This "GreenPath" thing that they're trying to promote at the end of their post. For the most part it's relevant to the post. I wanted to check because a lot of times you can create blog posts and have a CTA at the bottom which is the default at the bottom, but it can sometimes be extremely irrelevant to the post. But this one seems to still be pretty relevant.
So, I'll stop there since I'm over a bit on time. Overall, I think there are some design things that I would tweak for sure, and some things from a usability standpoint. There are a lot of parts of the site that are pretty clean (without the notice here) and won't make you too overwhelmed.
I think there could be some modernizing that's done with the design. The home page is good - it's like a jumping-off point, but the interior pages where we're focused on specific pages - those are really where the money is made. Where you're selling a specific service or product to someone.
This is where I'd do a lot of reordering of the content, removing some sections that are sending the users away so that we can keep the users focused on one thing at a time. And then we can move the users through a sales funnel until they sign up for an account.
So, some cleanup, reordering of this comparison chart, usability improvements. But the content for the most part is good, the design is fine. That's just a quick preview of how I might look to make some improvements!