The Financial Brand recently conducted a study on bank websites and how successful the sites are communicating messages to customers. (Specifically, they reviewed 5,000 pages from various financial institutions).

The results were not so good. Overall, most banks failed to communicate clearly to customers—sales messages, instructions, products. Here are a few ways you can make sure your bank website is easy to understand.

  • Back off complex terms and jargon.

Keep your audience in mind! It’s easy, when you work in a certain industry, to pick up that language. From technical terms to work culture slang, the outside world doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

  • 8th grade reading.

Did you know the typical U.S. consumer reads at an eighth grade level? Many bank sites in the study had high school reading levels, up to 12th grade!

Even if you think an 8th grade reading level seems terribly simplistic, keep in mind how busy and distracted even the most educated consumers are today. The easier your content is to read, the faster they can digest it and get what it means.

  • Keep it short.

The study found that many sentences were just too long! Again, long complex sentences go against the simple, 8th grade reading level goal.

  • Use active voice.

Sometimes people hear this phrase, “active voice” but don’t know exactly what it means. It means action! So you’d write something like, “Our travel credit card gives you extra points when you get out of town!” instead of “Our travel credit card is going to give you extra points.” Using “is going” makes the sentence passive, less engaging, and more wordy—and harder to read.

  • Make it easy to move around your site.

This can be a challenge for really large financial institutions. The more sections you have, and the more pages within those sections, the harder it can be to navigate your site. Make it easy for consumers to find what they need quickly, and drop some breadcrumbs to help them get back to where they started.

Why is this important? Readability is always important. Consumers need to understand a product before they apply for it or add it to their account—or before they even sign up as a customer at your bank! No understanding means a lack of transparency, and a lack of trust. And that means a lack of commitment on the part of your customer, and a lack of business for you.

If you think your financial website needs updating, or your want to work on your direct mail program, get in touch with us today. EdgeMark has worked with banks for almost thirty years, from simple customer updates to managing complex merger acquisitions. We’re here to help.