352 Inc. / Digital Marketing / January 20th, 2008

skim milk masquerades as cream

I logged on to my online banking this morning to pay my t-mobile bill I was surprised to see a new version of http://www.nationalcity.com/. To be honest, it looks amazing, I really like it even though they did most of it in flash, but I can over-look that because it does look clean and fresh.

But then I panicked as I couldn’t find the login button to pay my bill. It was way over on the far right and not where I expected it to be on the “top left” were it had always been.

So I logged in anyway and “shock horror” they had only gone and forgot to (or didn’t) update the inner pages, I went from nice shiny spanking new BMW to a dodgy car from theformer Soviet-bloc country Yugoslavia now (Bosnia-Herzegovina, / Croatia /Montenegro … blah blah blah the list goes on).

How hard would it have been to throw a style sheet around the “Enter your Password” page, this to be honest is the only part of the site I used – and I hated it because it looked so terrible. I had visions of a website that “National City” and their “Agency” had spent lots of time and dollars speaking to their users i.e. “people like me” about how they could make it better, how they could make it more usable, how they could make me a very happy online banking guy.

Why couldn’t they take a leaf out of SunTrust’s book ( http://www.suntrust.com/), they are based in Florida among other places, but I used them for banking when I lived in Gainesville. Now their online banking was amazing — Ajax style interface, bill reminders the list went on, (I cannot remember my login details to check out the rest – but is pretty impressive). I was so disappointed when I started using National City’s site when I moved here, then they spend all that money and time to leave the site half done after the redesign, why would National City you do this to me? Why I ask, if you could only feel my pain when I use your site you would understand how sad I felt.

If you’re going to do half a job why don’t you do the right half and to be honest, I’m not sure who your online audience is but if they’re like me you did the wrong half, however Im assuming that you’re not completely inept and you did pick the right half and you did a damn good job off it too, the colors, navigation, usability are all very good, actually I think this is the only time I have navigated the front end of this site and I was pleasantly surprised, I learned that I can quintuple my reward points and get bigger rewards. The 60,000 I have now could have been 300,000 which would have got me a Home Theater system or a Blu-Ray player phew …. Im lucky I got both very recently.

Go and have a look for yourself at the design and flash https://www.nationalcity.com/personal-banking/points/pages/home.asp also the https://www.nationalcity.com/personal-banking/points/pages/points-explorer.asp (point explorer) reminds me of BuyCasts and Tim’s handy work, this is a great site you can’t deny it.

Three Suggestions though- 1) move the login to the left side of the screen, that’s where users expect it to be, a redesign doesn’t have to be redesign it can be a freshen up i.e. leave all the stuff were it was and build a nice design around it, that way it gives users like me less to moan about then you throw a spanner in the works. 2) Build a non-flash version for your visually impaired clients as im sure they need to bank too, just because you cannot see money does not mean you cannot spend it like the rest of us. 3) Also for your busy, lazy or physically disabled users that won’t/can’t scoot down to the bank to deposit their checks the online banking area could be easier to use.

Here are a few interesting facts that will hopefully, make you think before starting a new website if you want to target a specific market that has a allot of money to spend online….

“People with Disabilities Have $220 Billion in Discretionary Spending Power”

  • Over one in five Americans, approximately 54 million, people have a disability making it the largest minority group in the nation.

  • 61% of people with disabilities are of working age, between 16 and 64 years old.
  • 72% of PWDs are likely to upgrade a product to the latest model.
  • 62% of PWDs say they are likely to do business with companies that have a commitment to diversity and equal treatment of employees.
  • Three-quarters (73%) of people with disabilities are heads of household.
  • 77% have no children in the household (boosting their discretionary income and free time for travel and leisure activities.)
  • Individuals with disabilities exhibit strong brand loyalty toward products affiliated with disability-related causes. In order to tap into this brand loyalty, there must be a logical relationship between the company, its values, customer, community, employee and the cause.
  • Between 2000 and 2030, the numbers of Americans over age 65 will more than double, from 34.8 million to more than 70.3 million.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau

Think about it the next time you enter a restaurant, and there is a wider entrance and a ramp for people with wheelchairs, think about the next time you are doing your shopping and you see the person scooting up and down the aisles, think about the next time you’re in a foreign country and you see native and English directions, these in some-way or another are to help people with problems, whether it be walking, understanding foreign languages when traveling, or whatever. Imagine how much easier it would make your life because someone went the extra mile to help you!

Now you can achieve this to by spending extra time planning your site and speaking to your clients, customers, staff, or even family members, on how to improve your website for the better. It may be little things as such making sure the content can be read by non technical people or adding a video explanation instead of text because some people with attention problems respond better to visuals.

This is a huge business opportunity for you as a website owner and a little extra thought and TLC, can go a long way to helping others and your reward will be your bottom line and increased sales, and a warm fuzzy feeling knowing you did something good.

Note: Title means — Things are seldom what they seem.