Website Redesign: Modernity, Authenticity, Functionality & Performance
Unitus Community Credit Union
Unitus Community Credit Union needed a more robust website to remain competitive, connect with their members, authentically reflect their diverse field of membership, and help them grow brand affinity in the marketplace. In addition, Unitus required a complete translation of the website and customer support tools to provide full service to Spanish speakers.
- Online offerings must be competitive for banks and credit unions, large or small. Credit Union websites have become a digital branch.
- In order to compete, credit unions have opened up their membership requirements and are now available to more people. This has diluted the sense of membership and association, while removing some exclusivity and community feel from credit unions.
- To welcome and serve people of all abilities, every aspect of the website must meet ADA requirements.
Enhancing member experience, providing accessibility for all members and demonstrating authenticity with visuals were paramount. To do this, we focused acutely on the navigation experience, applied our years of ADA compliance expertise and side-stepped the use of stock imagery.
“The clean, modern look, simple navigation, and enhanced content offerings provide a first-class experience for website visitors.”Scott Bell, VP and Chief Experience Officer at Unitus Community Credit Union
El Banco Amarillo
Keeping the Spanish-speaking audience front-of-mind was an essential part of this website redesign. As Unitus’ work to reach the hispanic community in their field of membership continues to go deeper, Unitus has become known fondly as El Banco Amarillo, The Yellow Bank. Yellow is a key color in Unitus’ branding.
What it takes to build a website that distinguishes your brand
Award winning website design begins with heart, proceeds with focus and wraps with celebration.
Unitus Community Credit Union needed a more robust website to connect with their members, authentically reflect their diverse field of membership and help them grow brand affinity in the marketplace.
Connecting with members
- Make messaging between branches and members easy online
- Update navigation to be simple and fast
- Provide quick access to online resources
Reflecting a diverse community
- Display original, authentic images that represent the local community
- Provide a full translation of the website into Spanish backed by onsite staff with full-service to Spanish-speakers
- Build in website accessibility for those with disabilities
Growing brand affinity
- Modernize the look and feel, adding color and visual interest
- Include storytelling elements like video and great copy
- Create content that provides value to visitors and supports the brands intrinsic value proposition
To remain competitive within their field of membership, protect their community feel and grow brand affinity, a thoughtfully crafted new website was essential.
The Rise of the Challenger Bank
Challenger banks like Chime and Marcus are chipping away market share from traditional brick and mortar banks and credit unions. These entities have no physical locations and have opened up exclusively online. They are small, nimble, modern, tech-forward, mobile-first and intend to compete with the old school establishment. Hence the term “challenger bank”.
Challenger Banks attract the desirable, up and coming Gen Z and Millennial audiences like bees to honey.
The Loss of Exclusive Appeal
In order to compete with big banks, credit unions have continued to open up their fields of membership to be available to more people. This combination of circumstances has created a lot of nuance in FinTech-land and watered down the meaningfulness of membership and association, removing some exclusivity and community feel from credit unions, which was once a big part of their appeal.
For example, you can live in Washington and join a credit union in Chicago if you want to. Credit unions used to be tied tightly to a workplace or where you live – Like Portland Teachers Credit Union (now OnPoint and not limited to teachers or Portland) or Boeing Employees Credit Union (now BECU and not limited to Boeing employees).
The Formation of the Digital Branch
Everything has gone digital, so online offerings must be competitive regardless if you are a bank or credit union, large or small. Credit Union websites have become a digital branch. We’d like to say Edge coined that term about 10 years ago, but we have no proof (maybe someday we’ll go digging through some old emails and proposals).
However, we’re glad to see the term Digital Branch being used regularly now, because that sets the mind toward the importance of allocating the appropriate amount of resources to your digital branch – your website, which receives more traffic than any brick and mortar branch in your portfolio.
Throughout this website redesign project, enhancing member experience, providing accessibility for all members and demonstrating authenticity with visuals were paramount. To do this, we focused acutely on the navigation experience, applied our years of ADA compliance expertise and side stepped the use of stock imagery.
- Enhancing the credit union’s Virtual Branch offerings
- Improving navigation, featuring one-click site navigation to virtually any page
- Opening communication avenues between members and staff via both the desktop and mobile versions of the site
Diversity Equity & Inclusion
- Designing to be inclusive: reflecting a diverse field-of-membership
- Dual-language offering in Spanish and English
- Conforming to ADA Compliance
- Showcasing the updated brand
- Including authentic, original visual imagery
- Incorporating original graphics
In addition to designing and programming the website, some of the key milestones Edge partnered with Unitus to achieve were:
- Research and Competitor Analysis
- Enhancing Website Content
- Crafting Great Copy
- Curating Custom Photography
- Designing Custom Visuals
- Mapping Superior Navigation
- Programming in the WordPress Gutenberg Editor
When a picture is more than a picture…
As part of Unitus’ commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the Edge team collaborated with Unitus to reflect the credit union’s membership, staff, and local community with custom photography on the site.
"Photography is what adds warmth and invites others to become a part of your story. By featuring real businesses and members of the community, you capture authenticity that you can’t find in stock images.”Ashley Burson, Project Manager at Edge
This was a significant side project that dovetailed the website redesign and fed the website visuals, which included real members and staff, local businesses, and Unitus’ community partners.
“Oftentimes custom photography can seem like a feat, but our clients have always trusted us to guide the process. From finding photographers, to drafting shot lists, to being on set and ensuring their vision comes to life, we’re a partner from start to finish."Ashley Burson, Project Manager at Edge
We build websites in WordPress and use the Gutenberg editor. Here are a few reasons why we find this approach is advantageous to our clients:
Mature, open source codebase
Distributed for free as open source software, WordPress has been around for 20 years.
Robust security infrastructure
Regular updates from a mature community of developers, with a reward system for finding vulnerabilities.
Flexible and built for SEO
Both site structure and content are prioritized, helping you optimize your site for search.
Great for both design and content
With the introduction of Gutenberg, not only are there more options for customizing content, just about anyone can do it.
As part of our longstanding partnership with a specialty organization focused on website accessibility, the website design went through a rigorous review and remediation process to ensure it met the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, level AA.
And, as part of our routine work each year, Edge works alongside Unitus to review and remediate in order to maintain this high standard of accessibility compliance. We believe it’s just good customer service and makes for an outstanding customer experience.
The Results Are In!
The new blog layout has improved organic channel performance as users browse engaging, relevant, and helpful content. Enhanced on-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has led to higher ranking within Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
+52% Overall Blog Traffic
+7% Goal Conversion Rate
-5% Page Load Times
-3% Bounce Rate
El Banco Amarillo
You rebrand. But sometimes, you get rebranded.
Keeping the Spanish-speaking audience front-of-mind as we did our work was an essential part of this website redesign. As their work to reach the hispanic community in their field of membership continues to go deeper, Unitus has become known as El Banco Amarillo, The Yellow Bank. It is beautiful and rewarding to see the community respond to our client with this moniker of fondness. Yellow is a key color in Unitus’ branding.
In addition to rolling out a version of the website in both Spanish and English, Edge has been producing marketing creative in both languages for a large variety of formats, including digital, landing pages, video and more. This supports Unitus’ increased capabilities to offer appointment scheduling in both English and Spanish for each branch, at Unitus Mortgage, and with Unitus Financial Advisors.
Envelope please! Edge wins a Standard of Excellence WebAward for the 2022 Unitus Community Credit Union website redesign project (in collaboration with our client of course!)
Specific acknowledgements from the judges included:
- Excellent content and copywriting
- High scores for design and ease of use
A WebAwards judge also noted, “Great progress on this initiative. Clearly DEI is represented on your site.”
Building trust and demonstrating authenticity were two core values that were taken very seriously throughout this process.
A modern website is extremely visual, simple to navigate on mobile and user friendly.
The Edge Difference
We truly act as partners in every way. This means for some milestone projects, it’s necessary to pull in multiple partners to get the work done within time constraints. At Edge we play well with others. In this case, our third-party partners included a Spanish-focused firm, a branding focused agency and a firm focused on accessibility.
We recognize that there is a lot of hard work being done out there by people that are too overwhelmed to throw their proverbial hat in the ring when it comes to earning formal recognition. So, we take strides to help with this.
With a project of this magnitude – one that takes depth of experience rolled out over many months, with a myriad of moving parts, we make the extra effort to come alongside our client-partners and encourage award submissions. Getting the work done, and done with excellence is one thing – but taking the time to gather materials, fill out paperwork and submit for awards is sometimes just too much. So, we make it easy and provide stats, assets and support to ensure that our clients are recognized.
Edge is a full-stack ad agency that has worked with Unitus Community Credit Union since 2008. We approach client needs and goals holistically and empathetically – considering first the human beings that we hope to see at the end of the sales funnel and how we can consult and partner with our clients to connect and engage with them in a meaningful way.
When a website project wraps, we provide our clients with world class hosting and maintenance to keep things secure and up to date.
We’ll be tackling some ongoing projects and continue to add features and enhancements to the Unitus website. We’ll also be remediating any accessibility changes that need to be made to ensure compliance.
With every website project we undertake, we continue to refine our process and improve our craft. Technology continues to change, and users expect more from their interactions with organizations online. They want digital privacy plus personalization, they want an excellent user experience plus accessibility. They demand authenticity.
We’ll be looking for our next website challenge to tackle. We grow from every single one.
The satisfaction of a job well done
And so it goes that Unitus adds yet another award to their trophy case! We are grateful for our partnership since 2008 and the many projects we’ve collaborated on over the years. We eagerly anticipate what we’ll no doubt accomplish together in 2023 and beyond.
At Edge, we pour ourselves into our work – holding ourselves to the highest standards in quality, user experience, accessibility, functionality, beauty and authentic brand representation.
“Receiving recognition from WebAwards is edifying, but having a happy client (that won an award!) and the satisfaction of a job well done is its own, best kind of reward,” said Stephanie Chadwick, CEO of Edge.