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Tinker, tweak, and try | CU website best practices

What can you do right now to start getting more out of your CU website?

It’s simple: tinker, tweak, and try.

Try stuff. Experiment. Maybe even twiddle. Make some tweaks and see what happens. Poke around for things you can fix or improve.

A credit union website is sort of a living thing. It’s never static, and it evolves. That’s why websites require daily care to stay healthy and prevent link rot. They also require regular pruning and doses of fresh content to stay relevant.

Make time to tinker

This is the hardest step: every day for the next week, do something to improve your website. (And then keep doing that. Every day, every week…)

Yes, it’s that important. Really. Your website is the 24/7 glowing global outpost of your brand in action. Every potential member will visit to see what you’re like. Every existing member drops by regularly, even if it’s just to log in to their account. You simply can’t afford to let it get shabby.

It’s a two-way street – by using your website Content Management System (CMS) more often, you’ll improve your own skills. You’ll get faster and everything will feel more natural and easier.

Proof to improve

If you haven’t paid a lot of attention to your website lately, I can guarantee you’ll find errors, broken links, missing info, missing ALT text, enormous images, and other content and technical “oopsies.”

Start spending an hour a day just proofing and correcting a batch of five or ten pages. After a week or two, you should have everything working correctly and all your content correct.

(By the way, if updating is difficult or slow using your current website Content Management System, please get in touch…)

Tweak the basics

Once you’ve got the basics bashed into shape, the next thing to do is to take things out. What can you remove, simplify, or speed up in order to get your members exactly what they need even faster?

Ask your phone center folks and front-line staff what the most common questions are and what they’d like to see on the website to make their lives better. They WILL have valuable opinions.

Remember, a credit union website is a tool, not a destination. About 75% to 80% of your visitors are only there to log in to online banking. At best, they might see one slider or banner, so make sure it has a simple, clear message. Consider getting rid of extra sliders or banners entirely; hardly anyone ever sees them, and they make your page slower to load.

Get feedback

Need some feedback, or just want to get members used to interacting with your site? Try a simple anonymous survey form on your home page. See what happens if you try something silly that fits your brand personality. Or try something serious or social instead of financial.

Check your Google Analytics, of course. Look for oddities and figure out what they’re telling you. Ponder the search terms used to find your site on Google and used when people are searching within your site. Are you using the wording real people use to describe your products and solve their problems?

Keep an eye on external feedback, like Google Maps, Yelp, and social media, and have a process for responding.

And of course, invite feedback through your website. Try adding a “feedback” link on every page with a form people can use to let you know what they think.

Try new things

The great thing about websites is that you can change your mind any time, instantly. Experimenting is easy. You can try changing things around manually, or you might ask your website gurus about adding a plugin to let you automatically test different ideas.

For example, maybe you’d like to see if your members would engage with a friendly chatbot on your website. It’ll take some work to set up and keep updated, but maybe it’s worth a try.

Or maybe you’d like to try something more complex, like switching up content in response to user behavior, location, device, or time of day. Work with your website developers to see what’s possible.

Consider A/B testing

Maybe you’re not sure whether the red truck or the blue convertible will get more car loan clicks. Try ’em both, and see what happens. You might be surprised. Try different copy or layouts for Facebook or email promotion landing pages.

Keep your eyes open

As a modern human, you visit a lot of other websites besides your own. Keep your eyes open to things you love and things you hate about all the other websites you encounter. How could you adapt a cool idea from a shoe seller for your website? What’s something annoying you saw, that you also need to stop doing?

Evolve fearlessly

A CU website needs to adapt continuously to stay ahead of the changing needs of your members. It’s a constant process where you need a “tinker and try” mindset, not “set and forget”.

And that means mistakes and dead ends are inevitable. Not every idea or experiment will pan out, and results are often inconclusive. That’s all perfectly OK and expected.

You hereby have our permission to fail frequently and fearlessly, as long as you keep trying, tweaking, and tinkering.

Brian Wringer

Former watermelon farmer Brian Wringer wears several hats for iDiz Incorporated, including Web Projects Manager, Wordsmith, and Big Idea Guy. He builds better credit unions by day and weird old motorcycles by night.

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