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Tablet-Friendly Websites a Must for Banks

A report from Corporate Insight finds that, slowly but surely, financial services firms are rolling out new websites with clear, tablet-friendly features in mind.

Financial services firms need to focus on creating tablet-friendly websites in addition to native tablet apps, finds a new report from Corporate Insight.

The report notes the exploding growth of tablet adoption since the iPad was released in 2010, with more than 100 million of that device having been sold since its inception. And while many companies have released native apps for the tablet in that time, the report notes that "a significant portion" of tablet traffic comes via a browser, highlighting the need for financial services firms to create tablet-friendly websites.

[Tablet Banking Demands Specialized User Experience]

To accomplish this, Corporate Insight recommends firms use responsive web design, a relatively new approach to building mobile-friendly websites that will detect what device is being used and fluidly adapt to a layout optimized for that screen size. According to the report, financial services firms are "beginning to experiment with responsive websites, although at the largest firms capabilities are limited at best."

Corporate Insight looked at several examples of financial services firms in the report, across banking, insurance and capital markets, and concluded that while financial services firms are "gradually" rolling out tablet-optimized websites, more work needs to be done. Among the recommendations the firm made for banks include the need to adopt a more spacious, image-centric website design.

"Users expect an image-centric –and even rich-media -- experience, and are frustrated by small, closely-packed text and hyperlinks," report reads. "Tablet-friendly pages should reflect this new usability standard. They should use more images and larger text that is easy to read and click. While promotional imagery is already ubiquitous on financial services websites, firms should be wary of cluttering homepages with too much varied content. Screen real estate is more precious on a tablet, whether it uses a smaller responsive layout or simply zooms out to fit the full page width on screen."

According to Corporate Insight, banks should also make their website interfaces friendly to touch controls. "Fingers are bigger and less precise than a mouse cursor, and do not have the benefit of hovering to reveal hidden navigation elements. However, they do offer some advantageous, intuitive controls. Users can swipe horizontally to advance image displays, use two fingers to zoom and rotate the device to change the screen length and width."

Finally, the firm suggests that banks creating responsive websites should do so in more than two sizes, adding that the best user experience on tablets comes through an optimized display that may be narrower or more compact than on a full monitor, but would not require users to zoom in to view any page elements. According to Corporate Insight, designers should even be conscious of the difference between tablets’ portrait and landscape modes and make sure key content is not cut off horizontally or vertically.

[Check out this case study: Major Online Brokerage Combines People, Process, and Technology to Improve End-User Experience, which will be discussed at the upcoming Interop event in NYC.]

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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Greg MacSweeney
Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
10/1/2013 | 2:07:34 PM
re: Tablet-Friendly Websites a Must for Banks
Good point. It seems that the smaller brokers are at a distinct disadvantage. Developing mobile apps is expensive, especially if they go with a third-party vendor. Even if a company builds its own app, it can be cost prohibitive (especially for a company with a small IT shop).
Becca L
Becca L,
User Rank: Author
10/1/2013 | 3:30:02 AM
re: Tablet-Friendly Websites a Must for Banks
Coming from a brokerage background, I have some experience on the ground floor of this debate. And it seems to come down to the fact that building speedy, pretty, functional, user friendly mobile applications is no walk in the park. It takes a ton of time, money, and a tedious approval process from regulatory powers.

Of course, given how important tablets are to business there really isn't much excuse for the big players to fall behind. Like Kathy said, it's odd financial institutions need to "realize" this bit of old news.
User Rank: Author
9/30/2013 | 10:14:32 PM
re: Tablet-Friendly Websites a Must for Banks
Many FIs are tablet savvy. I recall that as much as 2 years ago, Morgan Stanley redesigned its research apps to run on mobile devices when it realized that most clients were reading its reports on tablets while commuting to work.
User Rank: Author
9/30/2013 | 4:43:15 PM
re: Tablet-Friendly Websites a Must for Banks
It seems a bit odd that FIs would need to learn/realize some of these things, since a growing number of companies are making aggressive internal use of tablets, for use by sales/service personnel and other execs. For example, service reps in branches at a number of banks use tablets for evertying from account look-up to cross-selling. Insurance agents are using tablets in the field, as are claims adjusters. It seems a waste if companies don't learn from these implemenetations and leverage these findings and best practices.
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