Don’t get lost in error messages

Problems are bound to happen with any software application or website.  Count it.  Hopefully the vendor of said software or your internal staff has the mechanisms in place to catch any and all errors that may occur, log them, and notify the appropriate people to take action.  Occasionally, system maintenance of some variety will also take down a system for whatever reason.

Garmin, the GPS manufacturer, clearly has this figured out and has realized the importance of providing meaningful messages to their customers when something goes awry.  I use one of those fancy GPS watches to run and cycle with and recently when I went to upload my training info to their website, I received the messages below.  Every time you visited the site while it was undergoing maintenance, you would receive one of these messages.    Additionally, you’ll notice each message is tailor to their specific industry with captions and images that are meaningful to their customers.  If a bank or credit union had error messages like this for their website or online banking, I’d probably switch immediately because it demonstrates their commitment and thoroughness to customer satisfaction.

Simple and Clean

Imagine if you could make a credit union web site as simple (and gorgeous) as Snooth.  A real simple home banking login in the top right corner, and the massive search box in the middle.  Some CU’s are using virtual assistants (like Julie at Coast Capital) and some CU’s are using voice recognition for telephone banking.  Why not take that concept to your website with a search box?  Your members could search for locations or open new account or history or CEO and hopefully find what they are looking for.  Snooth even has, "Can I see some examples" to help those out who would have a hard time using a search box to find what they are looking for.  I’m by no means a web design pro, but this seems like it would make a killer CU site!

CU Posts for Website Redesign on Blog

Here’s a CU that has posted for a website redesign on a blog with a budget of $500 to $1000 to do some basic modifications to their site!  Awesome way to use a blog to get the word out!  Looks like the bid actually came from an online firm called  If anyone knows which CU this is (they’re in Texas) I’d love to talk to them and see if I can get them up and running with a free WordPress site or at least get Trabian involved!

CU Homepage on WordPress!

Just stumbled onto Mutual Savings CU’s website and it is done with WordPress.  And, I don’t know if sadly is the right word here, but it looks a lot better than many CU sites I’ve seen!  Very easy to navigate and very clean!  It is a great example of how WordPress doesn’t just have to be a blogging engine, but works great as a CMS as well.

Flash, Flash, everywhere!


As of late, I’ve been seeing flash websites pop up everywhere.  The latest FI-related one is called Lose Your Lunch Hour.  We’ve seen Dump Your Bank and the Coop Crusader this year.  It seems that lots of FI’s and organizations are spending money on these great looking flash sites, but what exactly is it they do?  How are they getting monetized? (I doubt they are)

Two more examples outside of the FI industry: The Simpson’s Movie and Honda F1 Racing.  These are clearly great marketing tools, but how can CU’s best take advantage of this new trend?  Picking on bankers forever isn’t going to make any money, so how we incorporate great flash with a functional website?  Coast Capital has some cool use of flash, but again, it is not a key component of their functional website.  Maybe VanCity’s We All Profit?  Another great example of a flash marketing website, but how can we use these?




West Coast Bank goes custom

West Coast Bank’s new(er) homepage takes some cues for the likes of Yahoo, Google, and Live and let’s the users of the site customize their own homepage. It appears that the WCB site is actual hosted and managed by Digital Insight, their online banking provider. Look at the source code on the page, and nearly the whole page is redirected to DI.

While I love the idea of CU’s, err, financial institutions, letting their members/customers customize their homepage, I’m not sold on the way in which WCB has put it together. While I applaud their attempt of bringing some Web 2.0 stuff out, the page could simply look better. That being said, it’s still a step in the right direction!

Test Tube

YouTube has launched Test Tube, their new “Idea Incubator” site, similar to Google Labs. (Imagine that.)

CU’s so often put up their website and call the project finished, only making changes when they add products or promotions.

From Karl Long on his blog, Experience Curve:

“For many years web design was an unnatural paring of graphic design, software design and product design, all of these disciplines assumed that there was an endpoint that was “done”. We’re going to build the site, like we’re going to build a monolith, in some cases monument that would stand for long time and would work just as designed.”

See Karl’s full post here.

Some people have a hard time believing that the words beta and money can go together, but I think if a CU has a clear e-channel vision, providing “sneak peeks” in beta form to select web users would get our members excited. And it’d tell us early about expected adoption rates and gather valuable feedback from members.

America First CU & CU Give

I ran across America First CU today and they seem to know what’s going on. It is one of the better looking CU websites I’ve seen lately (although html and css don’t validate) and the navigation is super easy. They use flash excellently and their ads look amazing. (Check out their press release ads here.)

In addition to having a super site, they are participating with Filene and the CUGive project along with a local competitor here in Oregon, Selco Community CU. CUGive enables your credit union members to volunteer with local charities and other organizations by donating their time.

I love this idea from Filene because it gets to the heart of what credit unions should be about: helping members. Whether is the credit union itself or other members, CU’s exist to benefit all who belong. I applaud Filene, America First, and Selco for taking this wonderfully innovative approach to community service.