Taking the Complexity out of Credit Union Web Design for Alltru
Banking can be complex. That’s why the Alltru Credit Union web design is simple.
It’s true. Making things easy – particularly something as detailed and multi-layered as banking – can be hard.
But that’s exactly what 1st Financial Credit Union asked us to do.
Based in Wentzville, Missouri, the credit union was in the midst of a rebrand. They already had a new name – Alltru Credit Union – but needed new colors, messaging and a website to bring the name to life.
Sounds relatively simple, right?
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
Simplicity is more than a mantra. It’s the mission.
Alltru’s mission is to make banking services more accessible. They’re a Community Development Financial Institution, meaning they exist to serve lower-income residents and create development opportunities throughout the St. Louis region.
From our initial meetings, they told us how important this was to their identity. Unlike traditional banks, their primary goal is not to make income. As a not-for-profit banking institution, they on providing accessible banking products and financial education for people, whether or not they have prior experience with banking or personal finance.
They’re here to help people improve their financial lives.
This thought was in the back of our minds at every step.
Credit union web design—simple from the start.
We started with the building blocks of the brand. This is always a critical step for us as we kick off a branding or website design project. We ask: What are the core messages? What are the visual elements we can use to build a compelling experience? What do we want people to do?
There’s a fine line to walk with financial services branding, particularly in consumer-facing applications like this: How far can you push conventions before you lose trust?
That’s why we chose teal and slate as primary brand colors. They’re appropriate for the industry and make the site feel grounded, which is exactly what people want from a bank. At the same time, pops of fuchsia and tangerine, used sparingly, add elements of surprise and delight.
For photography, the easy answer would’ve been to use stock images. Instead, we used photos of real members and employees. That’s a direct nod to their community focus, but also a celebration of all they’ve helped their members achieve.
It gives the site an authentic, accessible, personal feel that’s missing from so much of today’s typical credit union web designs.
Creating a simple path.
Think about the last bank or credit union website you visited. If it’s like most, there are so many products, so many messages, so many calls to action. It can be hard to find a specific product or service, and even harder to get there in just a click or two.
Since Alltru’s audience members may not have a lot of experience with banks, we wanted to change this experience, while still offering access to a wide range of banking products and services like checking and savings accounts, loans, credit cards and more.
We also wanted to make it easy to access a host of other pages, including stories of their community development efforts, financial education and more.
As the list grew, so did our doubt that simplification was possible.
There’s no way we can make this simple. It’s just inherently complex. After all, look how everyone else does it!
But then we rearranged some things. We clarified some labels and language. We rearranged them again.
We debated about what was too much, and what wasn’t quite enough.
Collaborating with the client.
Thankfully, we weren’t alone in pushing for simplicity. Our client was right there with us, sometimes nudging us to make things even simpler.
While our typical approach to web design involves giving visitors options, we (and the Alltru team) wanted to lead people down prescribed paths: toward opening an account or applying for a loan. Or, to put it in more consumer-friendly terms: to help them improve their financial lives.
It all sounds well and good – but how do you streamline the process of helping people choose between so many options? How to we lead people to open an account, even if it’s their first?
The answer: helping, not selling. Clarifying, not confusing.
We used bite-size pieces of helpful information and bold buttons with calls to action near the top of every page.
This helpful tone is evident on the homepage, of course, but also in the ever-present (though not obtrusive, even on mobile) “Chat now” button. Visitors are never more than a couple clicks away from answers to their questions.
Much like a traditional banking site, we organized the site into predictable categories, with overview pages that show the key differences between the products, and individual product pages that explain the benefits even more.
The goal of these pages, and the whole site, really, is to break down the barriers that keep people from wanting to use a bank. It’s not something to be feared. It’s something that can improve your life and put goals within reach.
Most big-bank sites seem to have the opposite message, pushing barely differentiated products and never stopping to ask what’s right.
“Don’t make the process harder than it is.”- Jack Welch, former Chairman/CEO of GE
We also worked with Alltru’s team to build an extensive Learning Center with tutorials about using their services and general financial advice.
Best of all? It’s all free and open to the public. It’s a community service, not a gated, lead-generating device. Help, don’t sell. Mission accomplished.
Simplifying a sizable site.
Even as we made things as concise as possible, the sheer size of the site was, in and of itself, a development challenge. With over 100 pages, plus a host of existing blog posts and news articles, there was a lot of content to balance and manage.
Using Gutenburg, the latest WordPress editor, each page is broken into blocks populated with content. As Alltru adds new products, they can rearrange these blocks in any order to build new pages, all without having to write a single line of code.
How about this for one more element that was far from simple: The brand was set to launch on November 16, 2020. The fast-approaching deadline didn’t leave us any wiggle room. If people landed on the new site, we had to be certain that features like online banking or new member signups would work flawlessly.
One factor working in our favor: we kept their old domain live after launching alltrucu.org. to avoid visitors getting abruptly redirected to an unknown brand. Instead, we built a reassuring splash page on the old site to introduce Alltru and explain the change before sending visitors to the new site.
Simplicity wins every time.
The most exciting part of any website project is always launch day—or in this case, launch night. We launched the site at 10 p.m. to avoid interrupting the site’s rush hour.
The clients were beyond excited about the brand and credit union website design. Their employees love it, too. They’re even starting to use the new brand, including colors and messaging, in TV commercials in St. Louis.
Through it all, we are reminded of one of the most important lessons in marketing: keep it simple.
It’s not the easiest thing to do, but the results are worth it.