Size Doesn’t Matter – Tiny eBank Beats Big Banks in Website Usability

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When it comes to online banking, a new study shows that small banks can be every bit as effective as the biggies in attracting new business. eBank, with only $145 million in assets scored ahead of 12 other banks ranging in size from Bank of America’s $1.38 trillion to $3 billion Intrust when users tested the websites for ease of researching and applying for bank accounts online.

When it comes to online banking, a new study shows that small banks can be every bit as effective as the biggies in attracting new business. eBank, with only $145 million in assets scored ahead of 12 other banks ranging in size from Bank of America’s $1.38 trillion to $3 billion Intrust when users tested the websites for ease of researching and applying for bank accounts online.

“Since eBank relies on the Web it’s not surprising that they’ve put a lot of effort into good usability and design,” says Web Mystery Shoppers International president Tema Frank. “In some ways it is easier for a small bank, since their offerings are more limited than those at huge companies like Bank of America. They don’t have to figure out how to cram in a ton of information. For a big bank, Bank of America does exceptionally well.”

The study found no correlation, positive or negative, between bank size and website effectiveness. “That means even banks with small budgets can compete effectively online if they focus on website usability,” said Ms. Frank.

Other key findings:

1. People use the Internet to decide where to bank. 77% of the testers had previously visited other bank websites, and 68% had previously researched opening an account in the Internet. 51% are willing to open a bank account online. Banks that neglect their online channel will lose business.

2. Great home pages are necessary, but not sufficient, for winning business. While 100% of the testers at Bank of America and Citizen’s Bank said they would continue past the home page if they were looking for a new bank, results at other banks ranged as low as 69%. The top sites may benefit from overall brand familiarity, but the research shows that the initial willingness to continue does not always translate into the top overall satisfaction scores.

3. Don’t get too creative. People expect, for instance, the word “search” beside a search box. Using other words to describe it prevents many users from realizing that there is a search function.

4. Too many errors. The number of people getting errors while they used the sites ranged from 0 to 76%, with an average of 27%. Not surprisingly, sites that did not take online applications typically had fewer errors, but Intrust, which does take online applications, only had 3% reporting errors.

287 Web Mystery Shoppers® residing in the U.S. participated in this study (average of 22/site). They tested the following sites between February 8 – 15, 2006: associatedbank.com, bankofamerica.com, bbandt.com, citizensbank.com, comerica.com, ebank.com, firstcitizens.com, intrustbank.com, key.com, lasallebank.com, peoples.com, suntrust.com and wachovia.com.

The Executive Summary of the report is available free at http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com/pages/040rese.html.

Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. helps companies Convert Clickers into Customers™. It pays testers who match the client’s target market to test the web site from their own computers, thus providing insight not only about the web site, but about differences in user perception based on variables like computer and browser systems and Internet experience. http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com

Contact:

Tema Frank

President, Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc.

Toll-free: 1-866-211-7027

Tel: (780) 444-5645

Cell: (780) 945-7345

http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com

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