Rethink Your Homepage

By Andrew Zeller

Websites are continually evolving and new best practices are constantly rising to the surface. There are so many facets that need to come together in a site, making finding the right cohesion and balance between pages a challenge—though crucial.

But despite all the behind-the-scenes intricacies and detail, and no matter how great the interior of your site is, your homepage is the star. It’s not only the first page anyone visits (for the most part), it’s also the launch point for online banking and your products, services and promotions.

Your homepage is invaluable in its role as a guide to drive visitors to where they want to go, and it should do so with ease. While design practices are always in flux, a few parts of the homepage specifically have been undergoing changes over the past few years and we’re going to dig into one of those right here, right now!

The homepage slider is not getting the job done

A staple of most bank websites is the feature slideshow (carousel or slider), large and in charge, right in the middle of your homepage. It’s where your brand receives its first opportunity to shine. Its main purpose is to act as an attention grabber and direct users to specific areas within your site, working as an essential component that demands user’s focus.

You may have noticed fewer and fewer slideshows on homepages in the past few years, as they’ve been replaced by a simple but strong static feature promotion, animated illustration or video that bolsters your bank’s brand. But why are slideshows slowly going the way of the dodo when they are perceived as the best way to let someone know about multiple big events and promotions at your bank? Because the numbers show people are not sticking around for even the second slide, let alone the third or fourth.

The slideshow was, at one time, the easiest solution to meeting the needs of all departments on your site’s prime real estate. Just put together a few slides and upload them to an auto-playing slideshow and everyone is happy. The problem arises, however, when comparing analytics of the slides. Typically we will see the first slide generate an average click-through-rate (CTR) of 90 percent. Then the second slide drops to a CTR of less than 10 percent. The third slide will come in even lower, and the rates continue to go down for each subsequent slide.

With so many users accessing the web through their mobile devices, they are unable to receive a responsive online experience when visiting the homepage and are unable to view all pieces of the slideshow. This tells us that the first slide should include the information that is of the most importance to ensure it will be seen.

The challenge to all of this is that there is not always a clear reason why someone is visiting your site or what led them there at that point in time. Visitors are not interested in waiting for the next image to show, and even providing the user slideshow controls does not promise an increase in engagement. Chances are that most existing customers will go straight to online banking, allowing only a few quick seconds to grab their attention, making it all that more important that the content displayed is highly relevant to each user.

AI delivers a better solution

So how do we show the right content to the right person at the right time? That’s where personalization, or the thoughtful use of artificial intelligence, comes in handy.

Many content management systems have developed personalization tools that can show different content based upon a visitor’s online behavior. For instance, Person A visited your website and checked out the mortgage rates. Upon their return visit, they would be prompted with a slide that shows them current mortgage promotions. When Person B visited your website, location services identified that they were near a branch where a special event was taking place, resulting in the exposure of content promoting this event with a call to action for directions. Person C landed on your homepage as a first-time visitor. They were presented with a slide welcoming them and guiding them to pages where they can learn more about your institution.

These are just a few examples of how AI can be used to ensure you are displaying relevant content to every visitor. The complexity and types of personalization you can incorporate will depend on the capabilities within your CMS. And of course, these personalization tools aren’t limited to the homepage slider either, but can be used throughout the entire site creating a customized experience for each user.

Although homepage sliders might seem like the best solution to satisfying every departments’ desire to have their own messaging front and center on your website—they won’t result in the conversions your bank deserves. Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about the opportunities available through your website’s homepage feature and you can now start to look at homepages in a whole new light.

Andrew Zeller is a senior web designer at Pannos Marketing based in Manchester, NH. Pannos Marketing is an award-winning, full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: azeller@pannosmarketing.com.

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