Online Banking: Optimizing for the “Anytime, Anywhere” Customer

It’s no secret that more people are banking online than ever before.  However, those online transactions are increasingly done through something other than a computer. The use of smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices is exploding across all industries, and banking is no exception. Unfortunately, many bank websites are not designed to easily handle mobile traffic, and that can seriously erode customer relationships. Today’s consumer expects to seamlessly interact with their bank from anywhere in the world at any time and with any mobile device – regardless of its screen size or technology. If they can’t do that, they may simply move to another bank where they can. Mobile optimization is a must.

There are two primary approaches for mobilizing a website, each of which has its pros and cons. Responsive web design (RWD) will fluidly change and respond to fit any screen or device size. It allows mobile users to view the bank’s website without being redirected to a mobile-specific site, creating a reliable customer experience across their desktop and mobile devices.  Since there is only one site (and thus one repository of data) it is preferable in terms of organic search (SEO) capabilities. Unfortunately, RWD is not a viable solution in many cases.  Responsive web designs are mobile-oriented from inception, and thus can be much more complex to apply retroactively to existing websites. Whereas RWD uses fluid grids to create a flexible site foundation that responds to the width of your screen, adaptive web design (AWD) identifies the user’s device and displays a version of the page that is adapted to that device. In essence, it creates multiple mobile-specific pages. AWD can also give your site a more app-like feel. For many financial institutions it is a more pragmatic approach to their customer’s usage patterns, including transactions like mobile deposits, which are becoming an expectation for many customers.

Regardless of which technology is the best fit, we strongly and actively counsel all our clients – particularly in the financial sector – to make their websites mobile-optimized.  According to Forbes, 60% of smart phone users will bank online by the end of 2014 – that’s nearly 100 million people. This trend is particularly pronounced among millennials, the highly sought-after customer base of the future.  If you haven’t already undertaken an optimization initiative, get started on this process by mapping out a strategy.  From a development standpoint, you should review your existing site and identify the non-essential elements, as any superfluous clutter not only interferes with your call to action, it adds to programming time.

Whichever route you take, the optimization of your website will mean more (and stickier) mobile traffic and ultimately more (and happier) customers.