Australian banks 'fail' in online mission

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1 of 2 25/07/2006 8:18 AM
Australian banks 'fail' in online mission
Louisa Hearn
July 24, 2006 - 4:57PM
Four of Australia's largest banks have received the
thumbs down in a review of their online banking systems with the ANZ emerging as "the best of a bad
bunch".
The study, conducted by US research group Forrester, found that illegible text, poor layouts and missing
information were just some of the major design flaws that forced customers to turn to more expensive
call centres and branches, or even to seek out alternative offerings from competitors.
"Each of the major banks could save more than $7 million a year by making their sites easier to use,"
the researcher said.
To come up with its findings, Forrester applied a website review methodology to the ANZ, CBA, NAB and
Westpac websites.
The methodology has been created over seven years and is based on findings from two individual
analysts who independently test a number of criteria including content, page layout, navigation,
formatting, interactivity, help functions, security and overall performance.
Each of the banks needed to score a minimum of 25 out of 50 points to pass the review and meet best
practice ratings. Instead they achieved scores of between -4 and -12.
To test out the sites, reviewers acted on advice from each of the banks that researching home loans and
credit card deals were the top two reasons for visits to public areas on their websites. However when
they set about the task of finding out about these products on each of the sites, they encountered some
serious obstacles.
Presentation was cited in the report as being the most common shortcoming of the websites, all of
which were hampered either by illegible text, missing content or poor page layout.
Forrester said Westpac scored the lowest in this category with -9 out of a possible 18 points.
"To effectively use its [Westpac's] site, users need the dexterity of a 15-year-old to accurately use the
rollover menus, a magnifying glass to read the text, and a lot of patience to made through the
material," the report said.
The other banks scored an equal of -4 each in this area and the NAB site's layout was criticised for being
especially hard to scan.
Each of the banking websites was also marred by serious design flaws including buried content, site
errors and over-reliance on rollover menus, which can cause "misfires", said reviewers.
CBA scored the lowest at -4 in this category because its home page gave no indication that visitors
could actually research and apply for a credit card or home loan online, and it was also missing
important data such as key credit card fees.
Australian banks 'fail' in online mission - web - Technology - theage.com.au http://www.theage.com.au/news/web/australian-banks-fail-in-online-miss...
2 of 2 25/07/2006 8:18 AM
"Since people will only spend an average of eight seconds looking at a page, it's critical to make an
impact with the home page to convert prospects online," the report said.
ANZ on the other hand, made its customers click through five pages before they could even get started
on a home loan application after attempts to apply directly from the home loan page failed.
On a more positive note, providing feedback on users' actions and helping them recover from errors,
proved to be the strongest elements of the websites, and both CBA and NAB were praised for allowing
users to save some online applications for later completion.
Westpac was deemed the most robust of all the sites with no minor or major errors experienced and
swift page downloads, earning it a 7 out of 12 ranking that matched global best practise standards.
However the report concluded that it was ANZ's value-added calculators that set it ahead of its
competitors.
"Impressively, its site goes out of its way with user friendly calculators to help visitors understand and
choose the most appropriate ANZ Bank product for their needs," Forrester said.
It advised the banks to address their shortcomings by embracing a "design-centric culture" and learning
from international peers such as
http://www.bankofamerica.com
, which uses a tab system to present
rates and fees without clutter.
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